The biggest story in Newcastle at the weekend was the revelation from former manager Kevin Keegan’s Premier League tribunal case. The court ruled in favour of Keegan – awarding him £2m in damages for ‘constructive dismissal’. The report from the tribunal revealed a number of bad practices behind the scenes of the club by Mike Ashley and his ‘cockney mafia.’ It was yet another embarrassing day for Newcastle with the name of the proud club once more dragged through the gutter. On the pitch, Newcastle were held to a goalless draw by Bristol City at St James’ Park.
Kevin Keegan will no doubt feel that his decision to walk away from the club has been fully justified with the result of the hearing. It also shows how badly the club has been run by Ashley and the people he has chosen to employ such as Dennis Wise, Tony Jimenez and Jeff Vetere. There were many examples of bad practice given in the report. The main catalyst in Keegan resigning was the decision to bring in the likes of flop striker Xisco and loanee Nacho Gonzalez on transfer deadline day. They went against Keegan’s wishes as he wanted to strengthen other areas of the pitch with proven Premier League players. When Keegan attempted to find some information about Gonzalez, a player who had not even been scouted by the club, he was unable to find anything on the internet. He was then told by Wise to have a look at videos of the player on YouTube, and Keegan was unimpressed to say the least by the poor quality videos of a poor quality player. This sort of practice to ‘scout’ a player would not even be done in League Two or the Conference, let alone a then Premier League club. Witnesses at the tribunal also admitted that Gonzalez was only signed as a deal with two influential South American agents and would give Newcastle the first option on the hottest properties in South America. The panel agreed that the signing of Gonzalez was a breach of a term in Keegan’s contract.
Other points made in the report were that Keegan had every right to expect to have the final say in transfer dealings, as it is most managers’ right to do so. The tribunal also ruled that club officials had blatantly lied to the fans and the press in statements about Keegan’s position. These false statements were storing up trouble for the club in the future, which ultimately proved true. No one really comes out of this case in a good light. Ashley has again been shown to be a truly incompetent football club owner who seemingly cannot make the right decisions when running the club. His continental style management system was always doomed when he employed Wise as Executive Director (football). The vast majorities of his signings failed to shine and there was a tempestuous relationship between himself and Keegan. While Keegan probably did the right thing in standing down from an untenable position he was believed to be claiming up to £25m from the club – a sum that could quite easily have put Newcastle in deep financial trouble. Surely now Ashley can no longer remain at the club he has done so much harm to? Reports have suggested that Barry Moat can speed up his takeover bid now that the tribunal has been decided.
Saturday saw Newcastle held to a second draw in a week at home to Bristol City. In a match low on entertainment, with the Keegan tribunal overshadowing the build up to the game, a penalty decision was the main talking point after the game. Marlon Harewood was blatantly tripped in the penalty area which everybody seemed to notice except the referee. Newcastle had the better of the game but were denied by some fine saves by the Bristol City goalkeeper. Two draws against two good, but not great, Championship sides is slightly disappointing as on paper they were both very winnable games. With both second and third-placed West Brom and Preston drawing, there was little damage done but it was still an excellent opportunity to pull away from the chasing pack. At least an international break should allow Newcastle to freshen up after what has been a busy week on Tyneside.
Newcastle United Club Focus
Pre-season woe – July 29
Fans say goodbye to a hero – August 5
Bridge over troubled water? – August 12
Local boy steps up – August 18
Home-grown strike partnership takes effect – August 21
Geordie resurgence gains momentum – August 25
Takeover still talk of the Toon – August 28
St James’ Park Ranger keeps Magpies firing – September 1
Ex-Magpie returns just as window shuts – September 4
Want-away striker leaves already thin squad – September 8
Former striker aims to shoot down Magpies – September 11
Newcastle return to Championship summit – September 15
Magpies upset on trip to the seaside – September 18
Magpies return to winning ways – September 22
Early cup exit shows where priorities are this season – September 25
Emphatic win a fitting tribute to Sir Bobby – September 29
Harewood announces arrival – October 2
Keegan victorious in legal battle – October 6