A football club on its knees, shackled, soulless and stripped of identity. That was Newcastle United for fourteen tumultuous years under Mike Ashley’s ownership. A year has passed since the takeover, and Newcastle United is beginning to feel like a functioning football club once again.
Newcastle’s newly appointed CEO Darren Eales described the club as “a 130 year old startup.” Newcastle’s owners effectively walked in to a club that they needed to build from the ground up. A club that had four employees in the commercial department, compared with Manchester United’s 250-plus. A club that had one director in Lee Charnley.
Everywhere you looked the club was a shell of what was needed to be successful.
There have been easy wins for Newcastle’s owners such as renaming the stadium bar “Shearer’s.” Moving the very own Alan Shearer’s statue onto stadium grounds, too.
There have also been more intelligent decisions, having the women’s team under the Newcastle United umbrella was one. It’s in the name, Newcastle UNITED, and officially having the women’s team part of that was a smart move. It also showed that the owners are prepared to invest in the wider entities of the club.
For supporters who’ve been around for a long time, October 7, 2021, was the day Newcastle United returned.
No longer banished in the footballing wilderness but a club with hope and ambition again, Newcastle was back. Supporters never wished for the earth, all that was required was commitment and effort to at least try and elevate the club. Ashley never bothered, and the club suffered as a result. The club was stuck in 2007, as no improvements had been made during his ownership.
Newcastle United represents the region and when the club is doing well you can feel it in the city. Dark clouds hovered over the club for those 14 years, but those clouds lifted the second the takeover was confirmed.
The club could be likened to purchasing a derelict property; the charm was still there if you looked close enough. Though a mountain of work would be needed to restore it to its former glory.
Were anyone to show the same level of passion and commitment to the club as the supporters, they’d be adored. Newcastle’s owners have done just that in a short space of time. The aim now is to grow the club, with investments in the academy and training ground already taking place. There will be more to come too. This is no longer a football club doing the bare minimum to keep the operations going, but one striving for excellence in every department.
The club not only has owners who “Get It” but they also have a manager who does too. Eddie Howe may have been second fiddle to Unai Emery's first option but he’s certainly shown the owners that he was the correct appointment. He’s meticulous, driven, and never ever stops working. Howe is not only a manager for stage one of the rebuild but can help the club flourish beyond that. A modern-day Sir Alex Ferguson in terms of longevity, everyone connected to the club would be delighted if he achieves half of the success of the Scotsman while at the Tyneside club.
Newcastle United means something again.
It is no longer a chore to attend games, there’s no zombie-like atmosphere, St James' Park is that cathedral of noise once again. A stadium full of passion and an undying support of their side. No passengers, nobody in it for themselves. Everyone pulling in the same direction to make Newcastle United successful across the board.
The foundations have been set during this first year. It’s time for the owners to continue to build the skyscraper.