Friday, 23 January 2009
Seeing as the Toon won't be troubling any statisticians on the pitch this weekend, I've been giving the latest NUFC accounts some thought. Some of the 'highlights' include
Total wage bill: £62.3 m - up from £52.1m in 2007
Monies owed to Allardyce: £4.6m
Amount Ashley paid for club: £134.4m
Extra cash Ashley has poured into club: £110m
Total loss for year ending June 2008: £20m
One of the most concerning things for Ashley must be the size of the wage bill. The turnover is about £100m and the wage bill is at about 65% of that. Apparently the accepted safe limit in terms of percentage is around 50%. Therefore, the natural assumption is (as the Times Online says)
"This may explain why the club have been eager to cut the salaries of senior professionals such as Michael Owen, Nicky Butt and Steve Harper, all of whom are out of contract this summer, provoking disaffection in the dressing-room. "
I had to read the sentence several times, to understand what Caulkin is saying - not that EMO, Butt and Harper are causing the unrest but that the unrest is caused because of the need to cut salaries. I guess this makes sense in the face of declining revenue - when was the last time SJP sold out? There are still tickets on sale for the mackem game, which has to be a first. Financially there is a conundrum, is it more important to shift EMO off the wage bill or hope his goals keep the Toon in the Premiership? It's a tough call, but ultimately it boils down to either a long or short term strategy. I'd guess it will be the latter as Ashley isn't showing signs of moving on, but its going to require a large amount of holding of nerve, which we haven't seen thus far from the current management team. Also these figures sound a large claxon-like Family Fortunes electronic farting noise to the prospect of any new signings in the January transfer window.
As for the pay-off for Allardyce, yes, its obscene amount of money for the seven months of purgatory that he inflicted on the club, but the pay off will (I'd assume) been dictated by the contract that was negotiated prior to the Ashley regime. What will be interesting to see is how much the Keegan pay off will be? No doubt we'll have to wait another 12 months before we can find out, but it will be interesting to see if its a similar amount. I wonder which enhancements could have been made to the playing staff for that amount of money? Allardyce's pay-off alone would have bought either Bullard or Heskey... Now there's a thought.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that Allardyce should have stayed, nor even that I feel any sympathy for the current incumbent of the SJP boardroom. I just feel that its been so much waste and instability that shows no signs of stopping. Stability is what this club is crying out for, on the pitch, in the dug-out and finally in the directors box. But that's not how the roller-coaster ride plays out, is it?
Anyway, hopefully the players will have been making good use of the free time this weekend, especially Barton/Enrique and Carroll/N'Zogbia. It would be great to see a team performing at Man City on Wednesday - but, seeing as I'm going and the scars of the Blackburn game haven't faded from my memory as yet; I'd be surprised.