There’s an interesting report in the Telegraph today in an exclusive today that Mike Ashley seems determined to keep Rafa Benitez on Tyneside if we take the drop this season and the new manager cannot save us.
The report suggests that Rafa will be given a free hand at the club – be in charge of all transfers – and he can identify those current players he wants to keep at the club – assuming they want to stay at a Championship club.
So if that’s all true that would mean in the disaster scenario of relegation – if Rafa stays – then Newcastle fans would still have some hope.
That’s all we seem to have these days.
Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley
But the big problem Newcastle face is the huge loss of revenues if we are relegated and the need to somehow cut the running costs of the club – or to increase our income somehow.
Aston Villa have already announced they will lay of 500 non-playing staff because of relegation.
The most interesting thing in the Telegraph report is that Mike Ashley is thinking of paying Newcastle for the massive advertising he gets for his Sports Direct company.
That was mentioned in Newcastle’s latest financial reports and it’s a way for the club to generate extra income.
If Ashley really wanted to help Newcastle in the Championship (and in the PL if we stay up) he could pay millions for the right to advertise at St. James’ Park and the Benton training grounds.
That would be legitimate income that could keep Newcastle within the financial rules of the Championship if we go down.
It would also help our commercial revenue which is an area of the club we have not been successful in from a financial viewpoint.
The fact the club is in decent shape financially would also allow us – but it would last for just one season down below – we would have to get immediately promoted.
The possible extra income would allow Rafa to have a really good side so we can get straight back up – but it’s always a risk – since you never really know what will happen.
We shouldn’t forget what happened to Leeds United when they were relegated from the Premier League in 2004 and are still trying to get back and the club have had huge money problems.
As one example of advertising income Manchester City were getting £40M a year over ten years from Etihad Airlines for the naming right to the stadium.
And while there’s no way St. Jame’s Park would be renamed Sport Direct Arena or anything like that – Ashley’s company could still pay big fees for the advertising – nowhere near £40M but sizable nevertheless.
That agreement at City is being renegotiated to be £80M a year and it’s supposed to be legitimate income to allow City to meet the FFP rules.
But the truth is Etihad Airlines are overpaying for those naming rights and it should therefore not be allowed by UEFA.
But we also said that four years ago.
There needs to be some significant planning done in case Newcastle are relegated and we assume Lee Charnley has done none of that – but it looks as though Mike Ashley is thinking of what would need to happen if we do go down.
If we are relegated then those running the club – Ashley and the Board – will be under severe pressure from the fans for messing up so badly this season.
So the owner would need to do something big to persuade the fans he wants Newcastle to be successful – that could be a hard sell if we are relegated.
The best thing is for us to win some games before the end of the season so we stay up and be absolutely sure that Rafa Benitez will be the Newcastle manager next season.
That’s what we need to do.