Most Newcastle fans thought it would take many seasons to build Newcastle into a good side again, with the way owner Mike Ashley was unwilling to spend money in the transfer market.
Hall signed Alan Shearer for £15M in the summer of 1996
But we are now sitting pretty in 3rd place in the league, and not only that but the side is performing very well of late, and playing attacking and attractive football to boot.
In an interview with Goal, Sir John Hall, who ran the club during the first Kevin Keegan management era at Newcastle, has come out and applauded Ashley’s strategy of adopting a thrifty approach to running the club.
Ashley has been successful in getting some significant bargains in the transfer market, like Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote, who Newcastle signed for around £8M for the two of them. How much would they worth now in the transfer market?
Ashley’s strategy is also to bring the very best youngsters to the club, and that is working well too, as the Reserves, like the first team, are still unbeaten in their league this season, and the average age of the side is around 20.
Mike has invested heavily in the Scouting network at Newcastle, and the club now have over 20 scouts each weekend checking on potential targets, and of course he has heavily invested in the Youth Academy.
This is what John Hall said to GOAL:
“The only thing fans wanted is for you to keep throwing your money into a club but you can’t keep doing that when you are competing with the likes of Chelsea because it is a recipe for bankruptcy unless you have a bottomless pit of money,”
“Ashley runs his business by keeping a very tight rein on things and he is doing very, very well. Sports Direct has done exceptionally well since he founded the company and he has brought his business principles to St James’ Park.”
“I don’t have as much money as Mike but I would probably be doing the same as him. In my day we were local millionaires such as Jack Walker at Blackburn, Dave Whelan at Wigan and Bill Kenwright at Everton and we put our money into our clubs because we were fans.”
“But now the game is being run by billionaires and for me it is wrong and stupid if any English businessman tries to compete with these billionaires who are coming in and I don’t think are coming in for the right reasons.”
“Ashley has a formula that is working and long may it continue.” “In my view when Roman Abramovich came in, the game in England changed forever and basically people threw money at it for reasons other than football.”
“It is a global business but I don’t think the right thing is happening for the fans.”
“Mike Ashley has had a lot of unjustifiable criticism,” “With some of the headlines he has got in the local press, I would have walked away if I had got them. But probably he came in not knowing football.”
“He took a lot of advice from friends of his in the south of England which wasn’t the sort of advice that Newcastle United needed and he suffered the consequences of it. He came into the club to use Newcastle United as a brand to bolster his Sports Direct business and I still think that will happen.”
“But he has got to be applauded for the position of the club at the moment. He spent money and he has bought players but he has bought the players he wants to buy and he is running the club in a manner which he wants to run it.”
“He is a very astute businessman and he has got the team playing well and the club functioning well as a whole. He deserves credit and we should all be saying well done and carry on.”
It even seems that whatever Mike was trying to do when he first arrived at Newcastle is starting to pay off, and certainly Newcastle have made giant strides forward since they were sadly relegated from the Premier League just over two years ago.
Newcastle won the Championship with a massive 102 points in May of 2010, and then finished 12th in the Premier League last season, and unless the lads have a terrible collapse this season, we should do better than 12th place this season, as the club continues on an upward spiral.
Things are certainly looking up at Newcastle at the moment, as Mike’s strategies for the Tyneside club seem now to be working like a charm.
And as Sir John says – long may that continue.