An excellent interview in the Newcastle Journal this morning with Luke Edwards getting a long and valuable interview with new Newcastle Chairman Chris Mort.
With all the turmoil going on at the moment with seemingly limited investment in in the club and bringing players in and the like â€“ let’s take a very close look at what Chris actually says and try to make it what’s really going on.
Newcastle Chairman Chris Mort – revealing interview
Chris Mort told Luke Edwards today:
â€œIt is not a short-term project for Mike Ashley or myself and I want to put that to bed straight away,â€â€œIf you look at the companies Mike has bought, like Dunlop and Slazenger, he has developed them over a period of 20 years.â€
â€œHe does small investments like he did in Adidas, which he then sells on, but that is not a whole business, itâ€™s a minority stake. He has bought an entire asset here and the plan is to develop it over a lengthy period of time, not turn things around quickly and sell it on again.â€
â€œWe are here for the long term, this is a long-term project. We are looking at how to take the club forward over various timescales. We are looking at the short term, which is making sure the team is a strong as possible for the start of the Premier League season, which means getting the squad and staff right.â€
We think that’s a good start. Obviously Chris must have been hounded in the press with all sorts of accusation and innuendo. We often wonder if he even bothers reading the popular press because there seems disaster happening every day â€“ but we know that’s just to sell their newspapers.
Chris is responding above to some recent reports that Ashley is looking for a buyer because the debts at Newcastle are higher than they first thought. There is no way he’s going to sell the club â€“ so let’s put that to bed right now â€“ even though it may mean cutting down the sale of newspapers in NewcastleÂ
What’s more important â€“ selling more papers based on sensationalism – or letting Newcastle fans know truth? We are all for the latter.
â€œThen there is the longer time frame, like property development, which we havenâ€™t really looked at yet at all. We have to get the foundations right here to sustain long-term goals.â€
â€œThe caliber of player we want to bring in is someone with a lot of Premiership experience or Champions League experience and they are in short supply. We are at a stage where we donâ€™t want to just bring players in to add to the squad, we want players who are going to be in the first team.â€
â€œWe are not just trying to add numbers, we are trying to add quality. I think Sam and I are not that focused on the money side of things, we are just trying to bring in the right people. We are conscious we donâ€™t want to overpay, or panic buy and so we are managing our funds properly.â€
â€œBut we both know we are going to have to pay decent money to bring decent players in. We are certainly willing to spend the money we have to strengthen the squad and we are close to bringing in two or three players before the start of the season.â€
Does that sound like funds are restricted at Newcastle? We don’t think so and are starting to believe this whole panic about lack of funds is pure paper talk. We are pleased about that but at the same time it has to be annoying to Chairmen Mort â€“ if he reads the papers at all.
â€œThe debt was certainly higher than we thought. The clubâ€™s finances were not in as strong a position as we first thought when we arrived, but thatâ€™s something we will work with over a period of time.â€
â€œIt obviously wasnâ€™t a positive thing to find out that the business isnâ€™t in as good a financial health as we believed. Itâ€™s not a criticism of the previous regime, their heart was in the right place to do what they could to bring success to the club, but weâ€™ll look at the debt and get it to a level which is suitable for the size of the club and its revenue.â€
Very good points and understandable from Chris Mort’s viewpoint who is responsible for running the club financially.
â€œIt has not been a hindrance to what we are doing in the transfer market and for me the two are separate. We are doing lots of things on the financial side and buying players is just one of those, the debt is another. The debt has not stopped us from trying to buy the players we want to improve the squad.â€
So thisÂ has not been a problem in the transfer market and thereforeÂ we assume funds have not been restricted â€“ at least not to â‚¤10M.
â€œThe aim is to win that first trophy, of course, but we are not setting Sam any specific goals for this season or beyond. We appreciate there is lots of work to do with the squad and behind the scenes in terms of backroom staff support.â€
â€œWe want to be heading in the right direction in the Premiership, but we havenâ€™t said we want this finish or that finish. We want to have a team which is tough to beat and who other teams are wary of, but this is going to be a gradual process.â€ “Our ambitions are to take the club back into Europe, but this is just the first step forward. We are getting the foundations in place in the first team, but also across the whole of the club. We are not focusing too much on what happens in the first few weeks and months.â€
If that last sentence means the management is not going to panic with whatever happens before say November this year – we think that’s fine.Â Obviously â€“ like Sam â€“ MortÂ is trying to keep expectations for next season as low as possible.
We know Sam is too but secretly think one reason Sam is so adamant about getting the right players in before the season starts is Sam wants to make next season a big surprise at Newcastle â€“ on the upside – and get Newcastle as high as possible. That’s the character of the man â€“ and we like it.
While trying not to get too positive and optimistic about this we think what Chris says is very sensible and see nothing at all to justify the press releases about transfer limitations at Newcastle that started last Sunday.
A couple of transfers of good players worth a little money within a few days hopefully will bury the story â€“ but don’t bet on it.
Comments very welcome.