Chat to a Newcastle fan, any Newcastle fan, and it is almost guaranteed that one question will be asked; ‘what has happened to that £35million?’
When this is put to the high-ups at the club, they respond, ever so patiently, that in this day and age, with agents and wages and signing on fees and everything else, that such an amount of money doesn’t go as far as you’d imagine. The Carroll money is being spent, it’s just that you can’t see it.
Of course, only the most naive fans had expected that every single penny would go on transfer fees for expensive superstars. The fanciful press rumours that saw us linked with the likes of Porto’s Hulk (who, according to his agent, has been the subject of £70m+ bids this month) and Dimitar Berbatov always seemed just that.
Even if we take the club’s consistent claims about the money being entirely reinvested in the ‘club’, (which has, since January, gradually replaced ‘team’ as the ambiguous term used to signify the alleged recipient) we are entitled to ask why the men in suits upstairs are taking this approach.
Is it usual practice to ask the Manager of a football team to find, from within his summer budget, wages for the entire duration of contracts on top of agent and transfer fees?
I somehow doubt it.
Even if I am wrong, and clubs up and down the country are conducting their summer business in this manner, it is still an odd fit for Newcastle. Alan Pardew’s entire summer plans are being funded from a small corner of the pot of money labelled “Carroll”. This begs the question, are we to assume that if Carroll hadn’t been sold, there would have been no money – new wages or fees of any kind – for summer investment whatsoever?
It wouldn’t be sensible to expect that a projected transfer budget of say, £10-£15m would have the Carroll money added to it to create a super-budget of some £50m, especially given our owner’s notorious reluctance to turn the tap on marked ‘cash’. But it made sense, even to the pessimist, back in the January frenzy, to suppose that at the very least, our whole summer transfer (fee) budget would be the entirety of that one-off windfall.
But we aren’t even getting that. Seemingly, the Cabaye transfer was funded by the Nolan deal, in terms of the respective fees and the gap the big man left on the wage bill. The deals for Sylvain Marveaux and Demba Ba most likely did involve moderate signing-on-fees. Mehdi Abeid is unlikely to have been a bank-breaker. If Melvut Erdinc does eventually arrive, this will be another sensibly priced addition. That, save for a replacement for Enrique funded by his own sale, is likely to be the totality of our transfer dealings between May and September.
In short, our summer business seems to have taken the exact form that I imagine it would have had we not sold Carroll for such an inordinate sum. But sell him we did. For better or worse, the deed is done.
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