Under Mike Ashley, Newcastle have ramped up their investment in youth and this looks set to continue and possibly even accelerate in the near future. Bringing through home-grown players leads to them to become fan favourites more often than not and saves the club money, but Newcastle need to be attracting youth players from around the country and across Europe. With the new Premier League rules set to come in and Newcastle to pump in £2.8 million of investment then the Magpies should be able to do just that.
According to the Journal, that is the figure that Ashley is looking to spend up to per year on the Newcastle United Academy. He has already bumped it up by £800,000 to the £1.8m that is spent currently, but it’s thought that more financial outlay is needed on the Academy for Newcastle to compete with the Premier League’s top clubs. This is all part of making the Magpies self-sustainable and a high number of young players coming through the ranks is essential if Newcastle are going to turn over a profit in years to come.
This extra money will be spent on scouting, staffing and facilities, and the man who will ultimately be responsible for turning that money into a conveyor belt of talented young players is Academy director Joe Joyce. Joyce states that “We need to make sure as a club we have our local area tied up – that we do not lose players”. He further says: “That the attraction of Newcastle to a boy from the North East is the biggest attraction”, but the new rules mean that Newcastle’s attraction needs to spread much wider.
The Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) will allow top-flight clubs to now recruit players under the age of 16 who live further than 60 minutes’ travelling time from their city. This means that Newcastle can now recruit youngsters from outside of the north-east and Joyce is fully aware of this. “With this opening of the recruitment network we now will operate on a much bigger scale. If there is a boy in another part of the country who we have identified as a potential first-team player, we have enough to attract him to the North East” Joyce concludes.
That’s what this £2.8m will go towards and while a successful first team squad will help achieve that, you do need the money to ensure that Newcastle can spread their scouting net as far and wide as possible. With academies also being audited next month, Newcastle need to do everything they can to be awarded ‘Category One’ Academy status. The criteria includes a £2.3m budget, which Ashley is set to smash, a full-time staff of 18 and five hours of contact time with players per week. Category One status would then allow Joyce to then bring in players from outside of that 60-minute radius.
Newcastle’s scouting of Europe through Graham Carr and co. has proved to be excellent in recent years with the purchases of Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye. If they can achieve similar success with their recruitment of youngsters then the future should be bright for Newcastle United Football Club and Mike Ashley clearly realises that spending a little more now could save him a lot more in the long run.