IN most spheres of business, the accounts posted by Newcastle United this morning would have been met with universal praise.

Post-tax profits almost doubled, rising from £9.9m to £18.7m, with the 12 months ending in June 2014 representing the fourth successive year in which the club finished in the black. The vast sums involved in the new raft of television deals makes it much easier for clubs to avoid the kind of financial meltdown that ripped apart the likes of Leeds United and Portsmouth in the past, but in an era of Financial Fair Play, the Magpies remain ahead of the curve in terms of living within their means.

Turnover rose from £95.9m to £129.7m, largely as a result of the increased revenue from media rights, but also because of a 49.7 per cent increase in commercial revenue. The sponsorship deal with payday loans lender, Wonga, might remain hugely controversial, but it is clearly making the club money.

Newcastle are still in debt to the tune of £129m, but the entirety of that debt is in the form of an interest-free loan from owner Mike Ashley, who continues to show no desire to call it in. The sportswear magnate clearly derives considerable benefits from his ownership of the Magpies – tellingly, the accounts continue to say nothing about the details of the arrangement that sees Sports Direct branding and advertising plastered all around St James’ Park – but in terms of a direct personal financial benefit, the statement that accompanied the accounts was quick to stress that the owner had not “taken any other monies from the club”.

Sunderland’s accounts, on the other hand, revealed that an unnamed board member had been awarded a £130,000 pay rise, taking their annual income to £663,000.

The £20m sale of Yohan Cabaye has clearly played a key role in the balancing of the books, and the minutiae of Newcastle’s finances will not become completely clear until the full accounts are accessible at Companies House, but the overall picture remains one of stability and cautious financial control.

Yet rather than being lauded for their careful control of the purse strings, Ashley and managing director, Lee Charnley, find themselves facing even greater dissatisfaction as a result of this morning’s update.

In the hours after the results were revealed, social media crackled with supporters commenting on the state of their club, and Ashley’s role as owner. Suffice to say, precious few of the comments were praising the 50-year-old’s good housekeeping.

The nature of football fandom is that you invariably want what you cannot have. There are precious few fans in the country that, when pressed, would not want their club to spend an extra few million on a new centre-forward or refuse to sell one of their leading lights when a perceived bigger club came calling.

Financial security is hardly an alluring lure when season-ticket renewal forms are lying on the kitchen table and prices remain extremely high despite the influx of yet more money from the television companies.

A more balanced view of Newcastle’s financial state would have to conclude that it is unfair to portray Ashley as a pantomime villain without any positive attributes. But for all that financial stability has to be preferable to the increasingly unsustainable level of debt that was being racked up under previous regimes, there is something profoundly unsettling about profit sheets being presented as an irrefutable proof of success.

For all the numbers that were revealed on Newcastle’s official club website today, one continues to trump them all. None – the number of major trophies won under Ashley’s control.

If a football club does not aspire to achieve success on the field, then any perceived achievements within the boardroom are irrelevant to all but those who stand to benefit from them personally.

Fifty thousand fans do not turn up to St James’ Park each week wanting to witness another period of gradual financial growth; they want to see players who will excite them, victories that will give them a warm feeling in their stomach and successes that make their financial and emotional investment worthwhile.

In the last two or three years, with key players having been sold and opportunities to invest in a number of transfer windows having been spurned, it is impossible to claim that Newcastle’s overarching financial policy has increased the club’s chances of achieving meaningful success on the field. And that’s before we even get to the hugely controversial decision to effectively abandon the two domestic cup competitions.

The current mood music at St James’ Park suggests there is an acknowledgment that the squad should have been strengthened in January. Graham Carr, who has developed into a de facto director of football, has identified some key weaknesses within the current playing group, and there is a shared determination to invest in the summer transfer window.

“The club benefits from a supportive owner and is financially stable,” said Charnley. “This gives us a strong platform from which to grow, both on and off the pitch, a result of which means, as we move forward, we are able to net spend on the playing squad and invest in other areas of the business.”

That seems like a fairly clear-cut mission statement, but the problem is that we have heard similar things before, only for the investment to turn out to be piecemeal while the stripping of the club’s prize assets continued apace.

Bolstered by four years of profitable growth, there is simply no excuse for Newcastle not to be major players in the transfer market this summer. That does not mean blindly throwing money at aging performers wanting one last pay day, but it should result in a much greater level of investment than has been the case in recent transfer windows.

Some ambition in the choice of a permanent head coach would be desirable, and while it would be naive to suggest that no one should be sold with potential bids in the offing for Cheick Tiote and Moussa Sissoko amongst others, the era of selling without adequately replacing must surely be at an end.

In football, as with any other business, it is healthy to have money in the bank. Ultimately, though, the old adage continues to ring true. You cannot play 11 pound notes on the pitch and expect to be successful.