by Michael Martin | 03/06/2020

The news that North Shields born, 20-year-old Matty Longstaff may have negotiated himself a 5-year £30K pw contract with Italian side Udinese doesn’t really come as any surprise. Our club has almost ceased to function and is in the hands of incompetents receiving little if any direction from above. That the business of agreeing a contract between Matty and the club is in the hands of Lee Charnley fills me with zero confidence. This is the man who ignored the advice of elite coach Rafa Benitez to sign Joelinton for £40m. In any other field of business Charnley would be dead-meat by now. I’d wager any executive in Ashley’s S****s D****t empire which displayed such mind-numbing incompetence so consistently would be down the road without ceremony.

His record in contract discussions is lamentable and this is another example. Joelinton? Steve McClaren? Our club just cannot afford the chimp Lee Charnley at the controls any longer.

Matty Longstaff has been in and around the first team squad for most of the season but is on a deal which would be common in L1 or L2. From the outside looking in it appears as if United is trying to take the piss out of the lad. Matty’s agent and parents would be negligent if they weren’t looking for alternatives.

There must have been people at United monitoring his progress and expecting him to break into the first team? With that in mind you’d have imagined a deal would have been agreed way before now. Whether it would be the same amount or for as long a duration is moot – the club would have been acting to protect its assets. But apparently not. They do not have a first team player, an academy graduate, an appreciating asset tied down. It is a study in incompetence.

The departure of Longstaff explodes any pretence that Steve Bruce counts for a hill of beans at St James’ Park. He has less authority than Lee Charnley, whose football knowledge could be written on the back of a postage stamp with a crayon. This is the jarring state of affairs at a club which finds itself in a worrying football limbo. But this is the scenario Steve Bruce willingly accepted despite being warned not least by Alan Shearer who counselled him against accepting a job he is grossly unqualified to hold. These were the scenarios predicted for him. That is what he willingly accepted against all sensible advice. I have no sympathy. He knew what snake-pit he was climbing into.

Ashley appears to have clocked off. By any measure United is little more than a shop soiled pair of trackie bottoms in a bargain-bin waiting to be shipped out. But with the sale of United less than certain, his wrecklessness again threatens to damage the club. God forbid the takeover doesn’t go through and the current regime has to pick the pieces up of what would be an utterly broken football club.

Despite recording substantial profits as revealed in the latest accounts (on the back of centrally agreed TV deals of which Ashley has had no role), United has decided to furlough its scouting staff which might hint at its plans this close season (whatever that will look like) were the takeover not to go through.

The savings likely to be made from furloughing a handful of staff is meagre but the potential damage potentially disastrous. Steve Bruce has expressed no opinion on the subject but nor has he been asked about it by a press pack who give him the easiest of rides. The friends of Steve Bruce #FoSB and then some.

But last but by no means least is Newcastle United’s current position on the ticket money that has continued to pile into SJP coffers from supporters’ bank accounts. That despite no chance of remaining league of cup games having any possibility of being played in front of supporters.

I think as reasonable people we understand in the early days of COVID-19 the situation was unclear, fluid and there was just not enough information for decisions to be made.

But we are way beyond that now. That United has decided to decline to even provide supporters with a courtesy of an explanation of what it is thinking about, its emerging options or when they will further furnish any update speaks volumes. This is a football club, a community institution completely at odds with every stakeholder it has but none moreso than the paying punters.

I have read the Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) efforts to open up a line of communication with the club and been completely rebuffed, ignored and dismissed.

When NUST is treated in this way it is not Alex as Chair that is being insulted or any of the board or even the 10,000+ within its membership. No, it is the wider support which has an interest in this – who have their money sitting in a Newcastle United bank account (that’s an assumption admittedly) paid over in good faith of gaining access and having seats at Newcastle United football matches.

I do not recall any other business which would behave in this way. Indeed I recently had the disappointment of not getting away on a week’s holiday (Pula, Croatia, saying you’re asking) and by the time the week of the holiday had come round, I’d been fully refunded by and Booking.Com. Items we’ve bought for the garden that couldn’t be delivered because of problems with shipping have been refunded. But there is nothing whatsoever from Newcastle United at all. Not one iota. It isn’t so much poor customer service as offensively insulting.

Where NUST can go with this I have no idea. I’d have little faith in the Premier League being in any way receptive or sympathetic. The Football Supporters Association you would hope could provide NUST with resources and advice about next steps which I would imagine might mean m’learned friends.

I have been strongly of the opinion that if/when this takeover happens then every current executive at United who carries the taint of Ashley are lashed down Barrack Road without ceremony. The first to go would obviously be Ashley’s number one bitch, Lee Charnley but he would not be the last by any measure.

We all have dreams about what the future might offer under new ownership at United but right here, where we are currently is living in the nightmare of the present tied to a club which is completely broken.

Pray this takeover goes through and the shower of shite running our club are made history and very quickly.


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