There was some really good news last week. Newcastle United’s board of directors appointed Darren Eales as Chief Executive.

Eales is currently Chief Executive of Atlanta United in the US MLS and has been in post since 2014 and the formation of the club. He is widely credited with building the club from scratch after a spell working in an executive position with Spurs. He’s from Cambridge, UK and reports suggest he’ll take up his post at SJP at the start of August. He’s 49.

He is roundly credited with establishing Atlanta as the most profitable club in the MLS and amongst the best supported clubs in the world. Interviews available on You Tube suggest an affable and approachable demeanour with a commitment to supporter engagement which he’ll say has underpinned Atlanta’s growth and success.

I’m not here to do a testimonial for the bloke but from what I’ve seen and heard, he’s a great addition to the club’s management and joins Dan Ashworth, our Director of Football who he’s previously worked with.

There is lots of work to be done of course but a board and management of Yasir Al-Rumayyan as Chair, directors Amanda Staveley, Mehrdad Ghodoussi, Jamie Reuben and Majed Al Sorour with Darren Eales as Chief Executive, Dan Ashworth as Director of Football and Eddie Howe as Head Coach has a heavyweight look to it.

It is certainly a big improvement on Lee Charnley and Steve Bruce muddling their way through running United with Jason Barnes and Mike Ashley ready to capsize the club on a whim.

For what it’s worth I think of Eales as the best corporate hire the club has made since John Hall brought Freddie Fletcher from Rangers. Fletcher, should we say divided opinion with his voracious desire for money but to be fair to him, the turbo-charging of those revenue streams in the 90s helped revolutionalise the club in that period. Without Freddie Fletcher there’d have been no KK and no Entertainers era I’d suggest.

But on the surface Eales appears a lot less abrasive than Fletcher and I look forward to seeing how he develops the team underneath him to take the club forward.

Obviously, we’ll all be looking at how far and how quickly the club’s commercial income can be grown after it tanked under Ashley. That will be the platform for how we see the club built in the next few years in every possible way.

It’s not just building the club’s revenue though. The entire corporate infrastructure of United needs a root and branch reform from how it markets itself to become the global force Amanda Staveley talks about. That will need a strategy and I suspect the whole media operation at SJP will be getting some attention too.

One of the items sitting in Eales’ in-tray will be supporter engagement. Regular readers know how much I value and support the Newcastle United Supporters Trust and I’d hope that when Eales gets behind his desk at SJP one of the early calls he’ll make will be to NUST to talk through how supporters can be harnessed to build the club we all want it to be.

Item number one is the thorny question of match tickets and the challenge of demand and supply to get into SJP to see the team play and support it.

There is no easy way of squaring that circle but I’ll confess to regarding the recent sale of 1,000 season tickets as well as memberships as difficult to get my head around. Many of us are really unhappy about tickets for the Forest game appearing on secondary ticket sale sites and that has to be stopped. We can’t have Mags having their eyes pulled out by online touts.

This is a new problem for us but if the conversations I have with Mags is any litmus test, there is a real appetite for United to jump on top of this, issue bans to those who are exploiting supporters and implement measures to stop the resale of tickets at exorbitant profits in this way.

But the bottom line is, welcome to Newcastle United and we all hope, I’m sure, that Darren has a long and successful career with us.


United have been away to Austria as part of the pre-season preparations and have played two friendlies, one won and the other lost. No-one needs to get wound up about friendlies because they don’t mean much. Well, until they do.

I recall being on the Gallowgate calling for Jack Charlton to go in ’85 as we played Sheffield United and we all have memories of a Chris Hughton side being murdered 6-0 by Orient and of course last season’s Steve Bruce inspired (sic) defeat at York.

Pre-season friendlies are all about context and the positivity around the club provides that. No-one should be losing their shit over a 1-0 defeat in the red hot sunshine out in Austria to a decent Bundesliga side. I’m not suggesting anyone is by the way.

Clearly, our focus is on player recruitment. In essence and this might be a glass half empty perspective we have added one out-field player to the side that beat Burnley on the last game of 2021/22. Everyone knows our priorities are in attack as cover to Callum Wilson who has a well-known injury record as well as a right sided player down the flank.

It is my view if we get those two players and they are sufficient quality then we can really attack the current season and think about top eight. If we don’t then we will have to rein in our expectations because we struggled for goals last season and that would be our well-known flaw going into 202/23 without quality additions.

Howe spoke honestly to the media of the difficulties of the transfer market (the Ekitike episode illustrating that perfectly) and his hopes whilst out in Austria.

Howe is treating us like adults, explaining the situation and keeping us up to speed with what’s happening. I always prefer the ugly truth to a beautiful lie so Howe’s candour appeals to me.

I understand this isn’t what some supporters want to hear. I don’t think the atmosphere is hysterical on social media but let’s face it, twitter isn’t the best place for cool, reflection is it? I do hope the club aren’t using what they are reading on social media as the barometer of how our supporters are wired up because it is completely unrepresentative. All clubs are the same.

It’s just my perspective but I think it is understandable fans get a bit worked up about transfers. We’re just off the back of fourteen years of Ashley with all of the attendant lack of ambition and non-communications that entailed. If people get jumpy, it is understandable.

At the other end of the scale there is the zeal of the true believers for whom the new ownership can do no wrong. I’m not in that camp because despite the undoubted expertise there is now on Barrack Road, I don’t regard anyone as being infallible and appreciate that now we are looking at a higher calibre player than we have been for some time then that is going to be more challenging because of the options those players have and the complexities of agreeing deals – and of course the costs, then that whole world is well, far more difficult.

Apologies for the lack of drama, we’re just going to have to wait and see. Stay positive, ask questions, believe things when they happen – you know the boring, obvious stuff.

Keep On, Keepin’ On …

Michael Martin @TFMick1892