Thursday, May 28, 2009

Newcastle's chopping block

The dawn of Day 5 of the post-relegation world is still a few short hours away, yet a greater nightmare is on the horizon for Newcastle. The first course of action is trimming the fat from the bloated payroll whilst bringing in some needed funds.

That is easier said then done and will not simply require a stern series hatchet man decisions but a number of concessions. Looking quickly at the salary budget, with asterisks marking free-agents the following list represents a stunning £875k per week salary line item:

Michael Owen, £115k*
Mark Viduka, £80k*
Joey Barton, £65k
Oba Martin, £65k
Fabricio Coloccini, £60k
Geremi, £60k*
Alan Smith, £60k
Habib Beye, £50k
Nicky Butt, £50k
Damien Duff, £50*
José Enrique, £50k
Jonás Gutiérrez, £50k
Xisco, £40k
Ignacio González, £40k
Kevin Nolan £40k

There is no bailout in this business world and with owner Mike Ashley's fortune plummeting the liklihood of a further capital investment seems to be a trying decision. While it is entirely possible that he may choose to make a limited investment, partially financed by his recent £4.7m sale JJB Sports shares, the bigger problem is off-loading many of these. Excluding Kevin Nolan, Nicky Butt and Damien Duff, the balance will be shopped for the best price possible or in the worst case scenario loaned-out. This of-course assumes that other clubs are willing to accepts over-paid players into their squad and undoubtedly Newcastle will need to make a series of concessions. Naturally standing out in the group is Oba Martins who was by far the most dependable striker during the campaign and the club will consider whether it can retain him outright in the promotion fight, need to sell off to bring in funds or loan out.

All this leaves a devilish mix because even assuming they can cleanup wage expenses and that is a very big assumption, they still haven't raised sufficient funds and made need to sell talented younger players such as Sébastien Bassong to finance purchases.