It feels unfair that Newcastle should be sensitive and cunning while living a dream.


Newcastle United’s January business to date has been impressively pragmatic.

Bringing in Kieran Trippier is a shrewd move, especially at a fee thought to be in the region of £12m. The England international recently won La Liga with Atletico Madrid and his intelligence and caliber are desperately needed to improve a defense that has shipped more than two goals per game this season.

taking advantage of a £25m release clause recruiting Chris Wood from Burnley meanwhile makes sense across the board. The Magpies have not only obtained a striker who has reached double figures in each of their previous four first league campaigns for the Clarets, but have significantly weakened a direct relegation rival. With Callum Wilson out for a good time, Newcastle needed a centre-forward and they have bought one proven at this level for far less than what most nine of his stature are likely to pay.

So far so sensible, with no scintillating South American bet or expensive household name past its sell-by date to be seen.

However, if that’s to the club’s credit, it comes with an important caveat, one that some people will think is correct and fair, and others won’t.

frankly, newcastle they have been relatively cautious up to this point, and this despite having untold wealth following its takeover last October by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. But maybe they have no choice but to be cautious?

With financial fair play restrictions in place, it was revealed at the time of the takeover that the planet’s richest football club, whose owners are said to be worth £320bn, may spend up to £200m this window. transfer and next summer. . If they do by the way, that figure drops dramatically for later windows.

It’s a figure that at first glance seems substantial – that is, of course, until you acknowledge that the average top-tier club outlay last summer was £55m, with £150m wasted on the day alone. of the deadline. The going rate for a first-class player these days is more than a quarter of Newcastle’s total budget for the next financial year and beyond. The going rate for a first-class striker and playmaker is roughly what they have left to invest after frugally buying a right-back and striker, both in their 30s.

All of which is a direct consequence of FFP, a construction that was introduced primarily to protect clubs from overextending but also – an admitted charge, but one that’s hard to deny – by design of the established elite, to ensure that they never return. to be a club quickly transformed into a couple of them through heavy investment.

Or, to put it another way, that the remarkable metamorphosis in manchester city it would not be repeated.

When City won the proverbial lottery in 2008, they were immediately blessed with unprecedented funds and, aware of a watered-down version of financial fair play in the breeze, embarked on a fast-paced buying spree to drastically upgrade their team before the regulations will come into force. This they did in spectacular fashion, immediately attracting Brazilian superstar Robinho from Real Madrid with Wayne Bridge, Nigel De Jong and Craig Bellamy arriving soon after.

In his first full transfer window, during the summer of 2009, City significantly upgraded all facets of their squad, signing eight new players at a cost of £120 million. This included two freedoms and to put that in the proper context, manchester united he spent £24.6m that particular summer.

Is spending more than others to such an extent an unpleasant thing? Many found it distasteful then and still do now. And yet, a counter-argument can be made, that FFP goes against the most basic principles of commercial law. Would it be fair or legal to impose a limit on what Tesco spends on advertising? Would construction industry regulators be allowed to impose spending restrictions on a builder who had won the Euromillions and decided to boost his business, buying a fleet of vans and employing highly skilled tradesmen? They absolutely would not.

In football, however, this tyrannical responsibility exists and more is seen as the norm, and more is seen as necessary.

This brings us back to Newcastle, a proverbial lottery winner who is only allowed to buy a nice second-hand car and take his family to Tenerife instead of the Bahamas.

When the inauguration was confirmed, supporters frantically celebrated their good fortune. They finally broke free of Mike Ashley and were finally able to seriously compete in the market, which translated into possible on-court success in the not-too-distant future.

How strange, therefore, that they have to be frugal at present, immersed in a relegation fight, with a team that badly needs to improve. How strange they must be sensitive and cunning when trying to live a dream.

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