Newcastle United must beware the blight of good fortune

Newcastle Fans, Rejoice! Mike Ashley’s reign of tight purse strings, shifting of club assets and furloughed payments has come to an end.

With the incoming Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) and a mouthwatering fortune of more than £210 billion to their name, the Toon are set to shoot to the top of the Premier League’s richest owners chart.

But, who are these mysterious benefactors I hear you ask?

The fund’s goals are to enhance the reputation of Saudi Arabia in pockets around the world, with the goal of building stronger business and cultural relations. Additionally, much in the current model of many up and coming sides in world football, Newcastle’s likely new owners come in the form of a conglomerate rather than a single investor or owner.

In more traditional form, many English clubs including the likes of Ed Woodward’s Manchester United and Roman Abramovic’s Chelsea have the majority of their stock tucked away in the pocket of a single proprietor. However, FSG’s Liverpool and City Football Group’s Manchester City serve as successful examples of a shift in power and preference. A company, fit with business models and an often deeper pool of funds, oft allude to a greater investment for the future, both metaphorically and figuratively.

So, what does all this mean for Newcastle?

Well, a quick look at the club’s recent history suggests far, far greater expenditures are to come. Until Jose Almiron’s signing from MLS side Atlanta in 2018, Michael Owen was the Magpies’ record signing, with the injury-stricken striker commanding a fee of £16.8 million all the way back in 2005.

This means that, while other clubs were strengthening, Newcastle United didn’t purchase a player for a sum greater than Owen’s for 13 long years – despite the market’s inflation. Interestingly, Ashley’s takeover took place in 2007; making him owner for 11 of those.

You’d think that the JD Sports’ owner’s minimal investment meant that his club suffered greatly. However, Newcastle were only relegated twice during his tenure – in 08/09 and then again in 15/16.

Hires of master money managers and result grinders like Rafael Benitez were key in Newcastle’s low spending survival. Few additions to the quad, selling to buy and a deep-sitting, often defensive style of play, were typically enough to keep the team’s head just above water.

Now, with this proposed investment, Newcastle fans’ patience may just be rewarded. Years of negative football, poor results and accomplishing little may well be forgiven. That is, should the path of the blue half of Manchester’s rags to riches story be followed.

However, therein lies the rub.

The Geordie side can’t get carried away. They must review the errors of other sides who found themselves in a similar position and learn from their mistakes – namely Manchester City and Everton.

City’s continued investments have found themselves a subject of much disapproval.

The millions pumped into the club elevated them from a side languishing in the bottom half of the table, to forming one of the most formidable squads in world football; all in the space of a decade.

Following a UEFA investigation, it seems much of their criticism was warranted. The Citizens now face up to two years suspended from European competition, with the unlikely possibility of retrospective action being taken against their previous seasons. It’s clear  UEFA wanted to make an example in this instance, one that will likely prompt pause in owners’ future decision to put their hands in their pockets.

On the other side of the coin, we have Everton. In contrast to Manchester City, the Toffees haven’t enjoyed masses of success since an injection of funds from their new majority-shareholder, businessman Farhad Moshiri. The side are yet to even break into the limited spots for European football.

Though that’s not for lack of trying.

Due to the incessant demand and pressure on behalf of their fans to ‘catch up’ to neighbours Liverpool in tandem with their stiff competition from the tightly packed mid-section of the Premier League table, it’s widely believed that Everton rushed into many of their signings.

Where some have been deemed a poor fit, others have been ironically pulled up for poor fitness.

Acquisitions piling up into the hundreds of millions are all well and good, so long as that money is spent wisely.

With a definitive plan of action in place partnered by a clear footballing model and prudent spending, there’s no reason why Newcastle can’t enjoy once again enjoy their success of yore.

Their only obstacle – straying from the terraneous routes of others.

They already have an iconic stadium, passionate fans and worldwide renown. The only thing missing until now, is the cash to compete with the big boys.

Let’s see if they can.

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