Clues as to why Mike Ashley is reluctant to authorise the sacking of Newcastle manager Steve Bruce may lie in the club’s financial accounts.
What’s the story?
According to analysis by the Chronicle’s Mark Douglas, the release of the club’s accounts might elucidate why Bruce still remains in the dugout.
A previous report has confirmed that the club’s supporters’ trust is formally ramping up the pressure on the Newcastle boss, who sees his side languishing just two points clear of the drop zone and firmly within reach of 18th-placed Fulham.
Indeed, Douglas claims that keeping Bruce in charge is part of a wider gamble-like strategy by Mike Ashley.
He is acutely aware that results are disappointing, but his plan – in Douglas’ view – ‘is that the manager retains enough support in the dressing room and has the personal determination to keep Newcastle’s collective heads above water’.
That would mean that Newcastle would have the benefit of being able to collect all-important TV revenue from the Premier League, secure league status for next season and all whilst avoiding a reported multi-million compensation package that Bruce would be due if his contract is terminated prematurely.
It is understood that Newcastle could have lost as much as £40 million from having empty stadiums in ‘ghost games’, and as is the reported case for most Premier League sides, keeping afloat is a financial priority amid systemic losses.
There is an element of sense to Ashley’s thinking, but one cannot help but note that his master plan rests precariously on the premise that Fulham simply will not be good enough to pip Newcastle.
A few more wins will be needed to ensure the gulf remains, else Newcastle’s status as a Premier League side could go down to the final day.