Freddy Shepherd, ousted last week as chairman of Newcastle United, has claimed his former close friends and boardroom colleagues Sir John Hall and his son Douglas Hall maliciously sold their shares to new owner Mike Ashley without telling him of their intentions.
We take a different view on this.
Let’s go through what Freddy has been saying and we’llÂ make our point.
This behavior (of the Halls selling their shares without telling Freddy) was synonomous with the way Shepherd and the Halls always ran the club. It was always aboutÂ their own interests – not Shepherd’s or the clubs. Don’t believe theÂ propaganda they put out about they only sold because it was in the best interests of the club – no – they sold because they finally got the 100p per share they had been seeking.
When it was the right time for the Halls to get out they did – and left Shepherd in the lurch – because it was always about self interests.
In fact the old board (basically Shepherd and the Halls) were too busy worrying about how they were doing – with huge dividends being paid to them as share holdersÂ whenÂ Newcastle profits were miniscule. We thinkÂ the club – in shortÂ - was being milked.
And why Shepherd wanted to put up a counter bid once Mike Ashley put in his bid belies belief.Â Did Shepherd think fans wanted him to stay on as owner – or that Newcastle would be in better hadns by him staying ?Â -Â no way.
Let’s look at what Freddie Shepherd said last week:
“I was lying there with tubes, drains and all sorts sticking out all over when my brother, Bruce, came in and told me that John had arranged to sell his 40 per cent shareholding,”
“From where I saw it, the whole thing had been done behind my back. John nor Douglas had been in touch to inform me of their intentions. I was not aware of Ashley’s interest in the club. His name had never been mentioned.â€
“There had been a few people expressing an interest in the club but he was never on my radar.â€
“I felt disappointed by what had happened, especially remembering our past relationship.”
It almost wants to make youÂ cry doesn’t it?Â All we need are a few violins playing in the background for effect.Â Anyway back to what Freddy was saying:Â
“I was too ill to put up a fight,” “Had I not been in the state I was, if I hadn’t have been in hospital, things might have been different.”I believe I could have found enough backing to make a counter-bid but it was more or less a fait accompli.â€
“If I had been fit I might have taken up the challenge but I was lying on my back without the strength to do anything.”
“My main priority was to get well again. I was told later that my condition was very serious and potentially fatal. They took four and a half liters of fluid off my lungs and I lost two and a half stone in weight.”
What challenge was he willing to take up? To keep the club in his hands when a perfectly good offer had come in for the club from an English Billionaire who would have far more funds toÂ invest inÂ Newcastle United. Mike could evenÂ run the club as a smooth business. That’s Shepherd’s selfishness coming through we think.
Freddy later sold hisÂ 29 per cent shareholding to Ashley for a handy Â£38M.
“I had no other option but to follow suit and sell my shares.”"We have a ground that would cost the thick end of Â£300m to build today, one of the best training establishments in the country and a brand new academy.”
“We also have some top-quality players. There is no doubt we’d have finished a lot higher in the table last season but for what everybody acknowledges was a horrendous run of injuries. have to accept criticism, although a lot of it was personal. But I just wonder what the supporters wanted from me.”
We all thought we had world class training facilities at Benton until Allardcye came in and described the facilities as nothing more than a converted squash club.
Shepherd went on:
“None of the managers who were at the club while I was chairman could say they didn’t get 100 per cent backing in the transfer market.”
“Looking back, I probably went too far to try to please the managers and the supporters.”
Shepherd now accepts the downward trend during the managerial reign of Graeme Souness and his successor, Glenn Roeder, began with the departure of Sir Bobby Robson. ShepherdÂ regrets the circumstances surrounding the sacking of the former England manager.
In truth Shepherd ruthlessly sacked one of the best loved managers in the game – Bobby Robson – and Bobby didn’t deserve that but his team had finsihed 5th that season so Shepherd immediately appointed a certain Graeme Souness who quickly took the club down to 14th position.
Shepherd went on:
“Bobby and I remain firm friends. He knows what happened and doesn’t hold anything against me”
Shepherd also insisted that speculation fanned by recent police raids in Newcastle is nothing but that – speculation. He has a clear conscience when it came to investigations into Premier League transfer dealings.
“I’ve co-operated fully with the investigations by Quest and anybody else. I have absolutely nothing to hide.” “Lord Stevens has said all of the clubs are in the clear, so that should be the end of it all as far as I am concerned.”
“At least I feel my last appointment could turn out to be the right one.â€
“Sam Allardyce will be successful as manager if he receives the kind of backing that I gave the people who were in the job before him. He’s exactly the right type for Newcastle â€” tall in stature; strong willed; an out-and-out football man.:
“Â That’s what the club needs right now.”
We all were aware that FreddyÂ seemed to beÂ on borrowed time once Ashley assumed complete control.
ShepherdÂ went on:
“Once the club was de-listed, my situation was redundant,” “Mike Ashley now owns the club lock, stock and barrel and is solely responsible for their future welfare. I wouldn’t presume to tell him how to run things but all I will say is that I don’t believe it can be done by proxy.â€
“We may live in an age of communication but I believe Newcastle are a club who need dedicated day-to-day handling.â€ “The competition for success in the Premier League is fearsome. “
“It doesn’t begin to resemble what the situation was like when we first moved into St James’ Park. Those who supported the club before then seem to forget the bad old days.â€
“I supported the club, starting from my days as a kid standing on the terraces at the Gallowgate End before I moved into the boardroom, and I’ll still be supporting the club now that I’ve left it.â€
“And I’m proud of what has been achieved during my time there. I’ve made mistakes but show me somebody who hasn’t. On the whole, I think I’ve done a good job.â€
“I want Newcastle to be successful and I hope Mike Ashley can do what, regrettably, I could not â€” that is, bring some major silverware into the trophy room.”
We think the Shepherd era will be remembered for the upper management bumbling and the poor publicity that always seemed to emanate from the club. We have never doubted Freddy Shepherd’s passion for the club. He is like any young lad born and raised in Newcastle (in his case Byker) – he’s a Newcastle United fanatic and will continue to be one.
This is not a personal attack on Freddy either. What we are criticial of is FreddyÂ never showing the managerial experience or maturityÂ necessary to run the club successfully as Chairman over the last 10 years.
We truly believe we have started a new regime under Big Sam Allardcye and Mike Ashley.Â New Chairman Chris Mort is the executive Ashley has put in place to run the club for him on a day to day basis.Â
We hope they can bring success to Newcastle – and we know that’s what FreddyÂ wants too.
Â Comments always welcome.