NEWCASTLE UNITED’s board have confirmed Alan Pardew will still be the club’s manager next season, and reaffirmed their view that a prolonged cup run could potentially damage their primary ambition of remaining in the Premier League.
Pardew’s position came under increased pressure in the closing stages of last season, as a run of seven defeats from the final eight matches led to supporter demonstrations demanding his dismissal.
However, removing Pardew from his post has never been a realistic consideration, with the Newcastle boss having achieved his pre-season target of finishing in the top half of the table.
Last night’s release of the minutes from a fans’ forum held at St James’ Park on Monday confirmed that Pardew will remain in his role, with board members Lee Charnley and John Irving effectively speaking on behalf of Ashley.
The minutes said: “The board stated that Alan Pardew will remain the club’s manager. The board stated that incorrect media reports which claimed Newcastle United had contacted other individuals about the manager position were in the hands of the club’s legal team.”
Pardew will now be given the opportunity to step up his pursuit of potential signings in conjunction with the rest of a recruitment team that also relies heavily on chief scout Graham Carr, with the board confirming that “money is available to spend on players”.
Remy Cabella and Alexandre Lacazette remain leading targets from abroad, although Pardew will push for the recruitment of more domestic players, with Jack Colback, Andros Townsend and Jonjo Shelvey all being assessed as realistic options.
With Loic Remy and Luuk de Jong having left at the end of their loan spells, and Shola Ameobi and Dan Gosling having been released as free agents, there is a need for up to seven or eight new arrivals this summer, even though Charnley has previously spoken of making “one or two” signings in each financial year.
A lack of depth in the Newcastle squad is a controversial issue, as it has previously been cited as one of the reasons why the board does not believe it is possible to pursue cup success at the same time as guaranteeing Premier League survival.
The stance has angered supporters who bemoaned Newcastle’s failure to progress beyond the fourth round of either the FA Cup or Capital One Cup last season, but there remains a feeling at board level that the financial importance of being in the top-flight has to override ambitions of silverware.
The forum minutes said: “The board reiterated that the Premier League will remain the club’s priority.
“The board outlined research into Premier League clubs in relation to domestic cup competitions in the last five years, with Swansea City the only club outside the traditional top six to win a domestic cup and not be relegated in the same season (Birmingham and Wigan Athletic were both relegated).
“Independent research into the cost of relegation over the past ten years showed there is a 50 per cent chance of not gaining promotion back to the top-flight and a 30 per cent chance of being relegated to League One or further.”
The implication is that a cup run is actually seen as undesirable rather than simply not a priority, despite the obvious satisfaction that supporters of Sunderland and Hull City derived from their respective club’s progress to a Wembley final.
Given neither of those clubs dropped out of the Premier League, the Newcastle board’s argument is unlikely to appease supporters who have repeatedly questioned a lack of ambition within the corridors of power at St James’ Park.
A number of those supporters have threatened to stop attending matches, but the figures for season-ticket renewals suggest there will not be a significant decrease in attendances next season.
The minutes said: “Approximately six per cent of season ticket holders have not renewed to date – similar levels to previous seasons.”