Congratulations to Liverpool on winning the Premier League. And to do so with such a meagre budget, I sincerely doth my cap. Only spending £56 million on a goalkeeper, £75 million on a centre half and £96 million combined on a lethal front three – which, by the way, was excellent value. Five of their key, title winning players, costing in excess of £200 million, mega money in man-on-the-street terms. Put it into context, 5 Liverpool players are worth nearly the total valuation of Newcastle United Football Club – a fellow Premier League member. I have no problem with these facts, it’s the way of football.
Here, however, is where I do have a problem. It’s ok for Liverpool to spend that sort of money, win Champions Leagues, Premier Leagues and add to their already massive, worldwide reputation, gained from their equally big spending glory periods of the 1970’s and 1980’s but it’s not ok, according to them, for a fellow Premier League side to want to able to or have the chance to do the same. If reports are to be believed, it’s claimed that the main stumbling block of the failed Newcastle United takeover wasn’t the appalling human rights record of Saudi Arabia or the ongoing TV piracy debacle but objections to the Premier League from various top 6 sides, namely Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. If true, this stinks of the highest hypocrisy.
It appears to be a case of the Premier League’s elite throwing the toys out of the pram, saying they aren’t playing anymore and Premier League trying to pine to their every whim. Had this been a bid for Man United, one feels the takeover would have been pushed through months ago. Elitism in the elitist conservative state that is England.
Tottenham Hotspur, in fact, have went in the other direction. Not so much spending on players but forking out £850 million, yes, close to £1 billion on a new stadium. I say not so much on players, they could still afford £55 million on Tanguy Ndombele, who, incidentally, seems to be just a bit part player. Eye watering sums. But again, I reiterate, this isn’t the problem as long as other clubs in the Premier League, or any league for that matter, are allowed to be able to do the same.
Quite clearly, Newcastle United don’t have that sort of spending power. Under Mike Ashley, the club has been relegated from the Premier League twice in his 13 year tenure. Again to add some context, the club had only previously been relegated twice in the previous 115 years of it’s existence and have never been lower than now championship level. Newcastle have drifted along, happy with just maintaining Premier League status and the TV riches that come with it. Minimum investment in the team, no investment in the training ground or stadium (other than a lick of paint) and the ever increasing gulf in relations between supporters and those that control the club, widening by the day. The fans are ambitious, the owner is not. That is a poisonous concoction, especially when there’s nothing more important than the football club to the fans in Newcastle, many put through mental turmoil while the Premier League dithered on a decision, adding to the extreme pressures of the ongoing Covid crisis. Newcastle could have been the richest club in the world with a chance to compete with the best and that’s the important thing here, not trophies and winning everything, just a chance to compete and having a club to be proud of once again. This failed takeover feels like a real sliding doors moment.
Should another relegation occur in the coming seasons and it is quite likely, there may not be a return for one of the country’s great clubs but as long as status quo is maintained at the top end of the Premier League, who cares eh???