Forget for a moment all the hype and speculation about transfer spending and the game’s biggest stars now drawn to the club after their recent takeover as they attempt to take the same shortcut to success as Chelsea, Manchester city and Paris Saint Germain. The truth right now is that Newcastle are one of the weaker sides in the Premier League and the January transfer window could still bring as many problems as it does solutions.
The past 10 days have brought a flurry of excitement and anticipation among Newcastle supporters after the completion of a £ 305 million takeover which now sees 80% of the club owned by Saudi ArabiaThe Public Investment Fund (PIF), the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Premier League has received ‘legally binding assurances’ that the Saudi state will not control affairs in Newcastle, but one thing is now certain in St James’: the days of austerity and stagnation under former owner Mike Ashley are now over, with the new regime promising big investments on and off the pitch and declaring ambition to bring the silverware and Champions League football back to one of the Englandthe best supported teams of. But the return to Premier League action this weekend should bring a cold dose of reality to everyone connected with Newcastle, including their new owners.
Newcastle enter Sunday’s game against Spurs still awaiting their first win of the season in any competition, having already been knocked out of the Carabao Cup at the first hurdle by Burnley. Steve Bruce’s side – although it seems like a matter of time before Bruce is relieved of his managerial duties by the new regime – sit 19th out of 20 clubs in the Premier League table, having collected three points out of 21 possible so far (via three draws). They’ve only managed eight goals in seven games and conceded 16, with forwards Callum wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin at the top of the scorers standings with two goals each.
In short, Newcastle are where they deserve to be. Their squad is desperately lacking in quality, with only Saint-Maximin likely to be still good enough to grab the attention of a Champions League club. The opening of the winter transfer window on January 1 may not come quickly enough for Newcastle, but before that they have a 13-game run of the league that sees them face Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Everton. Based on this series of matches, Newcastle will likely still be in relegation difficulty by January and that will only make it more difficult to attract the players needed to keep them in the division.
The Premier League’s transfer rules for profitability and sustainability, a complex formula that attempts to prevent clubs from overspending beyond what they earn from traditional income streams, ensure Newcastle cannot launch a frenzy of unhindered spending in January without risk of sanction across the board.
Chelsea and City, following the respective buyouts of Roman Abramovich in 2003 and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan five years later, significantly increased their spending at the start under a new owner. The two spent over £ 250million on new players in the first two years and success quickly followed. Chelsea were already a Champions League team when Abramovich arrived and City were an established Premier League club in the middle of the table when Sheikh Mansour took over. So it was easy to attract players to these clubs at a time when no financial regulations were in place to limit transfer spending.
Newcastle have the double problem of being limited by spending limits at the same time as having to add to a relegation-struggling team, so it will be much more difficult to follow the same path as Chelsea and City. When they arrive in January, Newcastle will quickly find that already well-paid players elsewhere will not want to risk a relegation battle with a side that may take three to four transfer windows to become competitive. A move to Newcastle in January could bring the promise of regular football and a big pay rise, but there won’t be any Champions League football on the horizon until August 2023 at the earliest, and c ‘is an extremely optimistic scenario, so the best players will be choosing to sit down and wait for Newcastle to become a team capable of drawing them to St James’ Park.
If Newcastle employ the best scouts and advisers, they will find that January will be all about signing a certain type of player; those who have the experience, the quality and the thirst to help turn the tables. But they’ll also come across agents and clubs who want to get rid of players who will put financial motivation over playing ambition and end up with those they can’t rely on to deliver when it really matters.
After signing Robinho for a UK record £ 32.5million of real Madrid on the day of their takeover on September 1, 2008, the new owners of City in Abu Dhabi took more pragmatic steps in their first winter window in January 2009, spending £ 49million on players such as Craig Bellamy, Wayne Bridge , Shay Given and Nigel de Jong. These were signings designed to take City to the next level – sensible and smart acquisitions that improved the squad.
That’s what Newcastle have to do in January. Forget about the activities that make the headlines Erling Haaland Where Kylian Mbappé – come back in three years, maybe – and focus on the players who will make them better and save them from relegation.
They may not be a glamorous role model for a club with ambitious new owners, but if they get it wrong in January, Newcastle could be the richest club in the league around this time next year.