Chris Mort gives a long and excellent interview with the Sunday Sun today, and the London lawyer lays out how he works as Chairman of Newcastle United. Itâ€™s a very good and interesting interview and gives some good insight of his plans for the future of Newcastle United. It’s certainly worth it for every fan to read through what he says.
Chris Mort – Newcastle’s intelligent young Chairman
It looks like Chris is the businessman in charge of the Newcastle United club, and that Mike Ashley does not have anything to do with the running of the club, and thatâ€™s exactly the way Mike wants it to be.
Chris said today:
â€œIf people want to say Iâ€™m a puppet, fine. But it doesnâ€™t reflect the reality,â€ â€œIâ€™ve been consistent throughout, Mikeâ€™s been consistent throughout. He didnâ€™t want to get involved in the business side.â€
â€œHeâ€™s got his own massive, multi- national business. Thatâ€™s his day job and he doesnâ€™t want Newcastle United to become a day job as well.â€ â€œSo he wants me to run the club and he wants to come and support it, which he thoroughly enjoys doing.â€
â€œHe just wants me to get on with it. I understand what the financial spend of the club can be, but within those constraints itâ€™s for me to go and run the business, and that includes deciding to sign players.â€ â€œIn the summer, he didnâ€™t get involved in any of the signings. Thatâ€™s not the role he wants.â€
â€œWe travel to games together, we talk as mates do about the team and how itâ€™s going. But heâ€™s not out to influence whoâ€™s in the team.â€ â€œHe seems less involved day to day than, say, Roman Abramovich is at Chelsea. Mikeâ€™s a passionate supporter. In fact, my conversations with Mike in the context of Newcastle tend to be on matchdays and not often in between.â€
It turns out that once the club was bought back in the May-June time-frame, Mike and Chris had a decision to make whether they thought Sam was the right manager at the club. As we all know Sam had just been appointed by former Chairman Freddy Shepherd. But we also remember the first words uttered by Ashley, when he announced his bid for the club, was that they, as well as the fans, were excited about the new manager that had just been brought in.
â€œMike and I discussed at the start whether he (Allardyce) was the right person, because he wasnâ€™t our appointment,â€ â€œWe had to decide whether we were going to stay with Sam or not. We concluded then that we should.â€
â€œHeâ€™s an experienced manager â€“ and this club needs one because itâ€™s a big club to run and there are some significant demands here.â€ â€œSince then, weâ€™ve never sought to think about â€˜right, whoâ€™s next?â€™â€
â€œNothingâ€™s changed between Sam and me,â€ â€œWe sit down, go through business and talk about whatâ€™s happening with the team.â€ â€œWe are both very frustrated by the level of inaccurate Press comment thatâ€™s been around over recent weeks, particularly in the nationals.â€
â€œBut I assume Sam would say he feels that, in terms of a management and ownership team, we are stable and not going to do anything crazy.â€ â€œHe and I are making plans about whatâ€™s happening next summer in terms of signings and the like.â€
â€œWeâ€™ve talked about how weâ€™re planning to build this club up over a long period of time, and those are still our topics of conversation.â€ â€œHe has taken them under his wing and developed them over a period of years,â€ â€œThatâ€™s what we talk about doing with Newcastle.â€
Chris Mort seems determined to change the loose cannon way Shepherd hired and fired managers. Newcastle have had far too many managers in the Premier League, to give the club any sense of stability, or any way to plan properly for sustainable success. Their view is that Sam is a good manager, has some very good ideas on fitness and injuries, and knows players around the world probably as good as any manager in the business.
Asked about Newcastle’s January transfer plans, Mort responded:
â€œWe had nine new signings in the summer . . . I think part of the difficulty weâ€™ve had â€“ particularly in defence â€“ is getting those guys working together.â€ â€œIâ€™m not convinced adding another two names in defense is necessarily going to be the solution this season.â€
â€œIf I made any signings in January, theyâ€™d be young guys who I could see staying for a very long time, not immediate first-team regulars.â€
Well that seems to us that there will be some youngsters brought in, but not too many first team players. Certainly it doesn’t seem to make much sense to bring in any more defenders who don’t have Premiership experience. We are still getting our defenders from the summer used to the physical pressures of this league.
Of course during January we will lose a lot of our African players to the African Nations Cup for up to six weeks. Abdoulaye Faye, Habib Beye, Geremi and Obafemi Martins are the players in question and it may be we will be a bit short of players, if injuries set in. However, Chris says Sam hasn’t mentioned to him players we need to sign because of that particular tournament.
â€œSamâ€™s not pitched to me that we need to sign players because of that tournament.â€ â€œIf I was going to sign anyone it would be with a much longer-term view than January and February.â€
â€œYes, weâ€™re looking to build a first- team squad capable of competing at the top level, but we are also looking to improve at youth level and make signings there,â€
â€œThatâ€™s an area which Newcastle United, historically, hasnâ€™t worried too much about. But Arsenal are the classic club to look at and see the value of making very smart young signings and developing players.â€
Newcastle United Football Club are now in very good hands, we’re convinced of that. It also looks like Chris sees himself at the helm for quite a while, as the other good news today is that he’s looking for a house in the area. But he will still split his time between the north-east and London.
We don’t think it will be too long before we see some evidence that Newcastle United indeed is headed for the top. But getting a solid foundation built is what’s happening now, and that will sustain the club at the top, once we get there, for years to come. It also looks like we are building the club on similarities with Arsenal, who have a terrific operation in London.
We’ve always been impressed with Chris Mort, and to us he’s doing everything right and has put a very professional public face on the club, in a very short 5 months.Â Add to that the passion that is Sam Allardyce, and we think we are in very good hands for the future.
From what Chris says in this interview – it all sounds like good, solid planning, that we’ve never ever had at the club. It’s exactly what the club needs.Â We’re very pleased with the running of the club – now we need to stack up more of those victories – like we had yesterday – however we can get them. 😀