NEWCASTLE UNITED will continue to operate within tight financial constraints after new managing director Lee Charnley revealed the club's policy was to limit their spending to “one or two” signings each financial year.
Charnley, who has been a director at St James' Park since 2008, was confirmed as managing director yesterday, replacing Derek Llambias, who resigned from the position when Joe Kinnear was installed as director of football last June.
Charnley will sit on the board alongside owner Mike Ashley and finance director John Irving, and wield a great deal of influence over both incomings and outgoings.
There is a need for significant investment this summer, with Yohan Cabaye not having been replaced following his departure for Paris St Germain in January, Loic Remy expected to leave Tyneside once his loan spell expires at the end of the current campaign and question marks over the futures of a number of senior players.
Charnley has confirmed that the recruitment process is already under way, but has warned supporters not to expect a sudden departure from the prudent financial model Ashley has followed in the last few years.
“We will continue to operate in a financially responsible manner and live within our means,” said Charnley. “The club is financially strong and there is money to spend if the deal is right and we are confident a player can add quality to the squad. That said, we will not pay over the odds or make knee-jerk decisions.
“Our transfer policy and strategy is very clear and will remain unchanged. We will focus on identifying and recruiting young players whose best years are ahead of them, which in nearly all cases means players in their early to mid 20s and not beyond.
“We don't look at transfer windows in isolation, but rather as a full trading year, and our intention for the first team is to sign one or two players per year to strengthen the squad.
“In addition, we aim to strengthen the squad underneath the first team in order to make sure we have a strong group of players pushing our regular first team for a starting place each week.”
Whether that is sufficient to enable Newcastle to compete in the upper echelons of the Premier League remains to be seen, but in a lengthy statement, Charnley also pledged a continued investment into the club's academy, which recently attained full Category One status.
The 36-year-old, who promised the Magpies would remain “one of the most affordable (clubs) in the Premier League”, also admitted he and his fellow board members had to do more to increase commercial revenues, which continue to lag well behind those of the leading clubs in the league.
“Whilst at the moment we can't compete with the commercial strength of the top six, whose income from sponsorship and advertising dwarfs other clubs in the Premier League, we will work hard to drive up our commercial income to give ourselves the best possible chance of competing on the field with those wealthier clubs,” he said.
By paying tribute to the work of Alan Pardew and the rest of his backroom staff, Charnley effectively ruled out dismissing the manager before the end of the season despite a dreadful run that has seen Newcastle take just 13 points from their last 15 league games.
That sequence has jeopardised a top-ten finish, but rather than Newcastle's players switching off for the summer, Charnley claims the existence of an incentive scheme for a top-half finish should guarantee optimum effort in the final five games.
“Our immediate priority of course is to finish this season as strongly as possible,” he said. “Our minimum target for this campaign was a top-ten finish, but I can assure our supporters that everyone at Newcastle United will do their utmost to ensure the club finishes in the highest league position it can.
“At the beginning of the season, all our staff and players were incentivised should we finish in tenth position and above, and our commitment to achieving this will continue right up until the final whistle on May 11.”
In a rebuttal to those supporters who claim Newcastle should give greater priority to the cup competitions, Charnley added: “Looking ahead to future seasons, our primary focus will remain the Premier League.”