Mort Building Solid Foundations at Newcastle United

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. It’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 that’s exactly the way Mike wants it to be.

Chris said today:

“If people want to say I’m a puppet, fine. But it doesn’t reflect the reality,” “I’ve been consistent throughout, Mike’s been consistent throughout. He didn’t want to get involved in the business side.”

“He’s got his own massive, multi- national business. That’s his day job and he doesn’t want Newcastle United to become a day job as well.” “So he wants me to run the club and he wants to come and support it, which he thoroughly enjoys doing.”

“He just wants me to get on with it. I understand what the financial spend of the club can be, but within those constraints it’s for me to go and run the business, and that includes deciding to sign players.” “In the summer, he didn’t get involved in any of the signings. That’s not the role he wants.”

“We travel to games together, we talk as mates do about the team and how it’s going. But he’s not out to influence who’s in the team.” “He seems less involved day to day than, say, Roman Abramovich is at Chelsea. Mike’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.”

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.

Chris continued:

“Mike and I discussed at the start whether he (Allardyce) was the right person, because he wasn’t our appointment,” “We had to decide whether we were going to stay with Sam or not. We concluded then that we should.”

“He’s an experienced manager – and this club needs one because it’s a big club to run and there are some significant demands here.” “Since then, we’ve never sought to think about ‘right, who’s next?’”

“Nothing’s changed between Sam and me,” “We sit down, go through business and talk about what’s happening with the team.” “We are both very frustrated by the level of inaccurate Press comment that’s been around over recent weeks, particularly in the nationals.”

“But 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.” “He and I are making plans about what’s happening next summer in terms of signings and the like.”

“We’ve talked about how we’re planning to build this club up over a long period of time, and those are still our topics of conversation.” “He has taken them under his wing and developed them over a period of years,” “That’s what we talk about doing with Newcastle.”

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:

“We had nine new signings in the summer . . . I think part of the difficulty we’ve had – particularly in defence – is getting those guys working together.” “I’m not convinced adding another two names in defense is necessarily going to be the solution this season.”

“If I made any signings in January, they’d be young guys who I could see staying for a very long time, not immediate first-team regulars.”

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.

“Sam’s not pitched to me that we need to sign players because of that tournament.” “If I was going to sign anyone it would be with a much longer-term view than January and February.”

“Yes, we’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,”

“That’s an area which Newcastle United, historically, hasn’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.”

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.  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.  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. 😀

Comments welcome.

15 comments so far

  • Leo

    Dec 9, 2007 at 8:10 PM

    Comment #1

    good that he is going to be making young signings for the long term future of the club…

    but in january we loose beye and faye, our best defenders, we should bring a defender in at least.

    which young players could we get?

    baheng altidore johnson etc… what about defenders?

  • Longshanks

    Dec 9, 2007 at 8:45 PM

    Comment #2

    I think with losing very important players in january we need cover.Ben haim is not happy at chelsea and would be cheap,if not at least try a loan deal till the summer.I think it is about time someone decided to start a search for upcoming talent.We are linked with a young hungarian,few french and u.s. youngsters and we need to uncover as many as we can in january,if not for us but for bolton who seem to be following our scouts everywhere.Nzogbia is an absloute bargain and im glad he is staying put.

    Come on the toon,we look like gonna in right direction.Cmon big sam do us proud!

  • Bruce Henderson

    Dec 9, 2007 at 9:04 PM

    Comment #3

    Yes its all sounds good for the future and that has to be welcome. Unfortunately I’ve read this report on the same day as I’ve read reports of a Far Eastern Consortium considering a buy out of the club, which according to the rumours Mr. Ashley is likely to accept. I know he is a business man so making a financial killing has to be in his blood. I just hope that making money isn’t his priority on this occasion and that his newly discovered geordie passion keeps him from ditching the club at the first sign of trouble. I would hate to think that his wearing the Club’s colours etc. was just a cynical attempt to con the great geordie public. I don’t think this is the case because he did invest an awful lot in the Club in the first case. So what are we supposed to believe ?

  • Gareth

    Dec 9, 2007 at 10:22 PM

    Comment #4

    Don’t worry Bruce, the story is utter tosh.

  • Dave

    Dec 9, 2007 at 10:26 PM

    Comment #5

    Bruce – Don’t believe the press. Anyway if Ashley did sell he’d have wasted £30 on a shirt 🙂

  • Magjp

    Dec 10, 2007 at 12:12 AM

    Comment #6

    Guys, dont you think we need a HOLDING midfielder? Somehow Butt doesnt sound right for me. we need a Makelele type who can hold the ball and allow the likes of Milner, Emre Smith and Viduka to play further and further upfront.

  • Len

    Dec 10, 2007 at 1:53 AM

    Comment #7

    I like Chris Mort a lot. He will get it right.

  • hanzemre

    Dec 10, 2007 at 2:30 AM

    Comment #8

    yea sure we need one or couple of tall & creative yet combative CMs to hold the ball efficiently. Go get them Mr. Mort.

  • Sparkey

    Dec 10, 2007 at 2:40 AM

    Comment #9

    We had a good young defender in Paul Huntington i still cant understand why he was sold

  • Brisbane Mag

    Dec 10, 2007 at 3:20 AM

    Comment #10

    We need more than youngsters during the January transfer window if we’re looking to qualify for Europe next season. Let’s get real, BSA has spent GBP11M on 9 players while other clubs looking for Europe have spent 2 to 3 times this amount.

    We need cover for Martins, Geremi, Beye and Faye as a minimum during January and February, not forgetting routine injuries to other squad players.

  • SGToon

    Dec 10, 2007 at 7:10 AM

    Comment #11

    I’ve noticed a pattern here…..if you notice the other ‘Big 4’ seems not to have a lot of African players…

    I have nothing against African players…I love them especially ours hahaha…..That could be the reason why these teams breakaway from the rest after christmas…cos they are not losing quality players.

    If we buy players just to cover the missing ones we’ll have…what happens if they return, we’ll have excess…not a good business prop up.

    Putting this into our daily lives…Imagine you are away for a business attachment for like 6 weeks, does your boss find a permanent replacement? How’d you feel if that is the case? Would’nt it be ideal if your boss have taken an that he can learn the trade while you were gone..and once you’re back, your boss would have the competent you and a promising back up in the intern?

    Chris Mort is doing the right thing. Signing up young players…why don we have something like the MUCup which were held just to scout for promising players…Pique is one of them. We’re a huge club I belive we can have those kinds of competitions…they could be our ‘interns’ for our missing star players…

    Agree?? I’d love to hear comments from you guys.

  • Cyprus Mag

    Dec 10, 2007 at 7:42 AM

    Comment #12

    Hey Ed, what happened to the stats you used to produce? You know cf with past 2 years and a 60 point target? They were interesting, are they still available?

  • Jeff from Malaysia

    Dec 10, 2007 at 8:18 AM

    Comment #13

    I hate African Nation Cup…

  • aaron d

    Dec 10, 2007 at 8:20 AM

    Comment #14

    Apparently according to tribal football we are making a bid for Diego of Werder Bremen in January, wish it was true but who can believe tribal football? Unless Owen gets back to fitness and form will definitely need cover for Martins who looks to be going for upto 6 weeks, along with Beye and Faye, Cacapa can cover for Faye but dont think Carr is the answer for Beye, who has looked great in his last 3 games.

  • Steve

    Dec 10, 2007 at 8:58 AM

    Comment #15

    I would love to see us sign youngsters as mentioned above. I do also believe we need to strengthen with experinced players. A DM, AM and a CB. Our strikeforce is very good and our Keepers are class (although I must say, it is my opinion that harper should be getting the nod at the moment).

    I think our wingers are very exciting, although we could do with signing a young RM (I know Milner is 20, but we should have 2, and there’s no point signing an old hack unless its beckham on loan – since we’re turning into a very dangerous set piece team)

    In terms of CM’s, we just don’t have top 4 quality. Butt is too inconsistent, too early on Barton or Geremi to call, but these players aren’t going to get us top 4. Emre is the one who I really rate highly.

    We should give our defence time to adjust to the premiership. I believe they’ll come good. They have all had bad days, but have had some very good ones too, and we musn’t forget that. As they become more experienced in the prem, their consistency will improve.

    My experienced signings for Jan:

    CB – Ben Haim
    DM – Edmilson
    AM – Arshavin/Gudjonson/Modric or maybe Harry Kewell if he costs us minimal amounts (problematic signing I know, but on his day there are few better)

    Then some young players for the following positions:

    LB, RB, DM, AM, RW, ST (Realistically, not all in Jan, but maybe in the next 12 months)

    SGToon – I like your call on that cup. Only problem is that scouts from other big clubs may watch and simply poach. Maybe we could do it off shore, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America.. I like the idea very much though, good call mate

    ps. Apologies for the essay length comment


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