Whilst all of the current narrative quite rightly focuses on Steve Bruce and the fact he should be binned as ‘Head Coach’ of Newcastle United immediately, there is another individual who needs to pack his bags: Mr Lee Charnley. Far too often he escapes the scrutiny of blame at everything that is wrong with the football club. He has been consistently present throughout the Ashley years and has been part of the problem.

His track record speaks volumes. He was over-promoted and under any other competent ownership would have been long gone given his performance. A few examples to demonstrate this:

  • Relegations: overseeing 2 disastrous relegations with his famous ‘devastated’ statement following our relegation in 2016. When I read it I thought he had finally done the honourable thing and resigned but to no avail. Charnley consistently spouted the line about ‘collective achievements’ to undermine achievements under Rafa (particularly following promotion back to the Premier League in 2017). Collective failure the other way clearly didn’t apply. In any other private company he would have been out the exit door.
  • Managerial appointments: this is the man who gave John Carver the manager’s job following Pardew’s departure in January 2015. He consistently defended Carver for the remainder of that season with us only surviving relegation on the final day. The next season he made the disastrous appointment of McLaren, sticking with him for too long and almost being saved from relegation number 2 by Rafa. He didn’t approach Rafa. Rafa approached them. Following Rafa’s departure he then undertook a tour of Europe to scout managerial talent and came up with the uninspiring appointment of Steve Bruce. Another Championship quality manager. If you are a normal football club with ambition you do not replace a multi-European winning manager with a Championship one. Charnley has done more than most to dampen expectations and ambitions at Newcastle United.
  • Player recruitment: the hollowing out of Newcastle United under Ashley has effectively meant Charnley has become the ‘board’. Not only MD but also a de-facto Director of Football. His notable achievement being the supposed £40m we paid for Joelinton despite Rafa not wanting him and believing he was worth around half that amount. His constant mantra about getting “the maximum benefit for every pound we invest in the squad” again not applying to him. A negligent waste of resources.
  • Infrastructure & wider engagements: Charnley has consistently down-played the importance of investment into the wider infrastructure of the club, particularly the training ground. Charnley is famously quoted as saying “In my experience, has a player turned round and said I’m not signing for Newcastle United because of your training facilities? No”. Once again continuing to dampen expectations. Ashley’s stewardship has resulted in Charnley and Bruce coming up with the idea of giving 10,000 free half-season tickets away. Unthinkable in Charnley’s time with NUFC and is the absolute epitome of what the club has become. His engagement with fans has been non-existent at times. Promising regular communication and then failing to deliver on it, and viewing fans groups with utter contempt.

How did Lee Charnley ever become Managing Director of Newcastle United? The protests over the Ashley years has quite rightly focused on the man himself and his Sports Direct cronies (Barnes, Bishop et al) who have criminally mismanaged Newcastle United over the past 13 years and reduced it to the shell of the club it once was and stood for. 

Charnley rose through the ranks at the club to become Club Secretary and then Managing Director under Ashley following the departure of Derek Llambias. Impressive enough for any employee to rise up the ranks at the age of 36.

Nonetheless, given this I’d argue his time as MD is even worse because of his longevity at the club – being part of the experience pre-Ashley when the club actually tried, seeing what it ought to be within the local community and allowing Ashley to reduce it to the rubble it has become. His loyalty to Ashley and effectively trying to save his own skin by doing anything in his desperation to keep his position means he is part of the problem and needs clearing out.

What is he actually doing at this moment in time on a day-to-day basis? Most of the club staff are still furloughed from what I understand so not much there. If he’s not on the phone to Ashley talking about how he can best protect his crumbling asset then what is he doing in a position of leadership at the club – after all he’s the one steering the ship as Ashley keeps saying. 

Then again, if Ashley does decide to bin Bruce (hopefully) then I wouldn’t trust Charnley to bring in the right man based on his recent record. The longer they leave it the pool of available (free) British managers (Ashley loves a British manager) becomes smaller and smaller – think Hughes, Pearson, Pulis or the classic Ashley-out-of-nowhere (Aka Kinnear) Tim Sherwood! God forbid. It’ll be left to Charnley to advise and bring in. Far better to bin him too and get someone in who can actually act as a Managing Director of the football club.