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Opinion - Mihir Bose, Sports Writer

First appeared in the Daily Telegraph Sat 24.02.01


COULD Newcastle United do with a rich benefactor? 

The City seems to think so, but David Stonehouse, Newcastle's chief executive says they are doing fine in their ambition to attain mid-table stability in the Premiership.

The club, Premiership runners-up in 1996 and 1997, made losses of 19 million last year and have hardly spent any money on players, balancing purchases with sales this season.

Stonehouse says: "We do not have the spare cash of Manchester United, and if we had the resources of some of the Continental clubs we might splash out in the transfer market. Every year we have a budget for net expenditure on players and that is largely intact. But we have made mistakes in the transfer market in the past and Bobby Robson and the board are not keen to spend."

Newcastle borrowed 55 million to enlarge and renovate their stadium and with interest at 7.45 per cent that means annual repayments of nearly 4.5 million. Last August they borrowed 4 million to improve catering facilities.

Last month they received a welcome 15 million, the final tranche of a 25 million interest-fee loan from NTL, the cable company but the drop in the club's value has been significant. NTL bought their last set of shares in the club in December 1999, when shares were valued at 1.20. They are now worth 34p each.

One City analyst told me: "The club is treading water and it needs somebody to come and put in money to take it forward. Since Cameron Hall Development own 48 per cent, that could only come if Sir John Hall and his family decide to sell."

Stonehouse admitted that the interest payments were a drain but insisted: "I'm not worried about the cash flow, what I'm concerned about is that we maintain our mid-table position.

"We have long-term commitments and we need long-term stability. We are not Manchester United, but a lot better placed than other Premiership clubs having done a lot of the development of our ground.

"I'm not sitting here worried about getting fresh capital. My concern is the transfer system, players' wages and performance. We do not have to get into the Champions League, mid-table stability is more important and we will cut our cloth accordingly."


However, if supporters want to cut more fashionable cloth then new money, perhaps a new owner, may be the only way forward.

Mihir Bose


Page last updated 24 June, 2009