Newcastle United announced on their official site yesterday that Lee Charnley, who has been with the club "for almost 15 years," has been named the new Managing Director. Usually, these announcements are accompanied by the standard boilerplate quotes, but this one had some pretty startling honesty - the kind that will distress those who are dissatisfied with the current state of the club. Here are the lowlights:
The Club has never been in such a stable and healthy financial position, which gives us the best possible platform from which to grow.
Congratulations, the balance sheet is in good shape. We all know what a bad balance sheet can do to a club, but it's pretty clear here that Charnley has been appointed based on where his priorities are.
Our immediate priority of course is to finish this season as strongly as possible.
We don't believe you.
Our minimum target for this campaign was a top ten finish, but I can assure our supporters that everyone at Newcastle United will do their utmost to ensure the Club finishes in the highest league position it can.
Mission accomplished! Great season, everybody.
At the beginning of the season all our staff and players were incentivised should we finish in tenth position and above, and our commitment to achieving this will continue right up until the final whistle on 11th May. To their credit, the players, led by the captain, agreed to this incentive scheme despite our 16th place finish last season.
Now we see where the motivation comes from. I'm so impressed by the players' ambition. They didn't think 16th place was good enough! What a club.
Looking ahead to future seasons, our primary focus will remain the Premier League.
Getting serious for a moment here: This is by far the most depressing quote for me. The incoming Managing Director believes that staying in the Premier League is a lofty goal. Before this, he was the Football Secretary. He's looked at Newcastle's position from a football perspective (not even a financial one!) and concluded that mid-table mediocrity is the primary focus in future seasons. But hey, our players agreed to the incentive scheme!
(I'm skipping the part about Financial Fair Play. It's nice that they're worried about that, and I encourage responsible spending. It's just that our conclusions following all of that differ.)
We don't look at transfer windows in isolation, but rather as a full trading year, and our intention for the first team is to sign one or two players per year to strengthen the squad.
Again, this man works on the football side of the operations - and he thinks Newcastle only need one or two players per year. By his own math, that's 1/2 to 1 player per window. Depressing.
The rest of the article is the boilerplate stuff I mentioned earlier: commitment to academy, fans, and making money. All nice things, but overshadowed by the inside look at the ugly truth behind the club's leadership. The more things change, the more they stay the same.