Although he was one of the main drivers of the winter transfer window, Newcastle United did not indulge in a frenzy in their investment strategy. Despite the takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Magpies’ new management appears to want to take their time, rolling out their roadmap step by step to orchestrate the club’s rise. A strategy contrary to the recipes that have so far been used by the “new rich” of European football. Lighting.
While star showers were expected on the banks of the Tyne last January, no major player in international football moved to Newcastle United during the latest winter transfer window. Magpies supporters have had to settle for a “British” set to remedy the immediate shortcomings of a struggling workforce, however, as the icing on the cake, the signing of Brazilian player Bruno Guimarães in the final days of the transfer window. from Olympique Lyonnais against an investment of €42.1 million plus €8 million in bonuses.
If the power of its new majority shareholder, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, allowed Newcastle United to raise £100m to attract new players; there were no compulsive purchases to satisfy the (premature) desire for greatness. The new management team did not engage in the over-investment policies that clubs called the “new rich” usually pursue to attract their first stars.
“Selling clubs tend to raise prices when approached by teams led by a powerful shareholder. Clubs like Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City have faced this situation. In the latest winter transfer window, Newcastle United managed to avoid that reality. The club pays new players very well at the market price. The club did not seek to put itself in the position of over-investing in order to attract stars. Obviously, the sports situation did not contribute to this, ”analyzes Me Badu Sambage, sports prosecutor. “Over the past few months, Newcastle United management has undoubtedly received hundreds of offers from agents and other intermediaries. Instead of throwing themselves into the lion’s mouth right away, the club chose to go through the market surveillance phase without putting pressure on itself,” agrees Olivier Yaroche, board member of LTT Sports, a professional football strategy and management consulting firm. .
Economic rationality and staying in the Premier League
Newcastle United have also been able to take advantage of an investor-friendly economic environment to make purchases without suffering from the traditional price “inflation” attributed to the new rich man in European football. Due to the Covid-19 crisis and some economic and political turmoil, European clubs have been less competitive in the key talent market. “During this period of recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, the price of players on the transfer market even tended to fall for the first time in decades. Then it became a good investment opportunity,” says Olivier Yaroche.
If the relatively cautious approach taken by Newcastle United during the latest transfer window was due to the economic context, it is nonetheless in line with the plan laid out by its new decision makers to meet the current challenges. “In the way Newcastle United are operating, we are seeing a kind of convergence between short-term sporting ambition and the political will to not immediately resort to a ostentatious investment strategy. The new management is looking to stay in the background in order to gain recognition in the English and European football ecosystem. Let’s not forget that negotiations lasted more than 18 months before the sale was completed. There have been many reservations about the identity of the buyer in English football,” says Renault Regner, managing director of Kroll. “In addition, Newcastle United wanted to bring in new recruits to achieve their number one short-term goal of keeping the club in the Premier League. In fact, Newcastle United have made a bet on players who know the English league very well, ”continues our expert, accustomed to transactions within European football.
A policy that is not limited to players. In terms of sports coaching, the first decisions made by Amanda Stavely, the club’s new operating boss, were also unexpected. While observers awaited the appointment of a world-class coach to the bench of the Magpies; management chose to bring in… Eddie Howe, former Bournemouth manager, last November. As for the position of sporting director, the choice should also be made by an expert in English football, as Dan Ashworth, former technical director of Brighton & Hove Albion FC, is expected to fill the position.
On the other hand, some key employees who were already employed prior to the Newcastle United PIF takeover have remained in their positions despite the change in shareholder composition. This is the case, for example, with Steve Nixon, head of recruiting at the Magpies, who retained his prerogatives. “Steve Nixon knows the Newcastle United job and environment very well. Amanda Stavely needs to rely on these profiles to create her project. Everything from then on will depend on whether it is urgent to achieve results in line with the new ambitions of the club,” explains Me Badu Sambage.