Yes, its true, Mike Ashley has renamed St. James’s Park again. Another period of calm on Tyneside shattered by the fat man’s greed. Tonight in a midnight released press statement, the club announced that St. James’ Park will become the “Sports Direct Arena”. Just a matter of days over 2 years to the date since the awful “Sportsdirect.com @ St. James’ Park” rebranding was announced, yet again we have another change.
According to the words via Ashley’s Arse Lips (Llambias):
“When we initially launched our plans at the end of 2009, we invited sponsors to attach their brand to that of St James’ Park.
“However it has become clear that in order to make the proposition as commercially attractive as possible, a potential sponsor must be given the opportunity to fully rebrand the stadium.
“Naming the stadium the Sports Direct Arena helps us to showcase the opportunity to interested parties. We are now actively seeking a long-term sponsor wishing to acquire full naming rights for the stadium.”
However, this came after promises in November 2009 that there would be no way that the “St. James’ Park” bit would be dropped:
Newcastle United have renamed their ground the sportsdirect.com @ St James’ Park Stadium for the immediate future
“We will showcase Sports Direct until the end of the season,” chief executive Derek Llambias told BBC Newcastle.
“I’m sure we’re going to get a sponsor in for next season.”
Asked if the name “St James’ Park” would always remain amid an angry response from fans, Llambias said: “Absolutely. In our reign, absolutely.
“It’s adding to it, and if it brings in a good chunk of money to the club, that goes straight to the team, then do you know what, it’s a revenue we should look at.”
So the major questions to ask right now (THAT MEANS YOU MEMBERS OF THE PRESS), are:
First things first though, does this company have much money?:
I’ll start this by saying I know less about football than Alan Pardew (slightly more than Colin though). The rest of the article is a testament to that fact. This is my first full season coming up tweeting and writing without a doubt the usual shite, nonsense and photoshopping, anyone reading more than 1 post, will come to know.
As of tomorrow, the season starts and we’re a few weeks away from the transfer window closing firmly shut on the metaphorical fingers of Newcastle United. We’ve had some of our key players escape out the window and a shit load of cash thrown through it too. So what now? Are we better or worse off? Is the club now on financially sound footing so it can “wipe its own nose”? Is Mike Ashley a fat bastard? Only one of those questions we really know the answer too.
Lets start by looking at the squad that started the season last year vs the one we have for Arsenal:
The squad looks smaller and we’ve lost Enrique, Nolan, Carroll, Routledge, Campbell and Xisco.
We’ve brought in Cabaye, Ba, Marveaux, Obertan and Abeid.
The total net cost of these transfers are a negative ~35-40 million. It is now clear that Mike Ashley does not intend to inject anymore of his own money into the club, and we are a self-sustaining operation. That means money from player sales are not going directly for replacements and instead used to fund players wages and club costs. Also, it looks like the maximum transfer fee we’re prepared to pay is 5 million and if we can get a player on a free then even better (although apparently “on a free” is very expensive).
On the youth front, we have players coming through / showing development from last season including: Krul, Ferguson, Vuckic, Kadar, Forster and Sammi Ameobi.
The return from a season long injury of James Perch and Ben Arfa look very promising pre-season (although Ben Arfa is out for a month still).
We also have the “100%” promise from Pardew that we’ll get a left-back and striker before Sept 1st. We all know about Pardew’s 100%s though…
So overall, we’ve lost 3 of our best players of last season and still uncertainty over our player of the season from last year (Barton). In their replacement Cabaye seems to be the standout player so far. The question now is how the new squad will fit together and what our first 11 is going to be this season. Like last season, I guess we’re in for quite a ride of emotions, with anyone up for sale, and if results don’t go the right way, Pardew’s head on the block. Afterall, this is Newcastle and anything is possible.
So, where will we finish? On a completely unscientific poll of Newcastle fans, the predictions suggest the majority of you think we’ll finish between and optimistic 9th and a sadly less than last season 15th. Taking the average of the votes and that would put us in a respectable 12th.
Note: a few lunatics (yes, 9 of you) voted 1st. I hope for your sake that was a joke.
THE NEGATIVES: as most assumed, we have not built on the squad of last season and their successful return to the Premier League by injecting much needed funds into the transfer coffers. Instead, the club has continued to sell a number of our best players, pocketing the profits from this and bringing in out of contract, free/French bargain trades. How much more do we need to sell to be self-sustaining? We have a smaller squad and a complete new backbone to the team. We are seriously lacking a proven goal scorer up front since the loss of Andy Carroll 7 months ago. The sale of Enrique has left us vulnerable at LB (and our RB is not much better). How these will play together is anyone’s guess and hence pundit predictions for the season have us anywhere from 9th-18th.
THE POSITIVES: the wage bill of the club has been considerably reduced which means more money available for a self-sustaining model for new players ultimately. We have the injection of new talent for a steal from France including the highly rated Cabaye. Our youth development of players continues to be successful with a number of players coming through the ranks since the beginning of last season. Graham Carr is a scouting genius.
CONCLUSION: I’m more baffled than I was last season trying to guess what happens this season, and second guess the Lord of Pork. We’re definitely not looking like we’ve developed in the way the drivel coming out of SJP was suggesting we would back in February / early summer. However, on the plus side we have seem real talent in the ranks and a number of very creative players making for entertaining football. Where the goals are going to come from is anyones guess. As ever though, we’ll always back the team and hope for the spirit that drove us on last season to continue (plus some luck in the bargain). After all of the talk, its time to see whether Pardew has the substance to back up his yap. Howay the lads!