The Good Shepherd has made Newcastle United rich and famous

I know most Newcastle fans (at least the ones we hear from) may not be too fond of Freddy Shepherd and the job he has done for nearly 10 years – come December 1st – as chairman of Newcastle United. But from a bigger perspective Shepherd has actually some major achievements in getting the Newcastle United brand well established around the world.

In the next few years football in general – and the Premiership league in particular – is going to be bigger than ever. It’s already started with the new global TV deal.

Here in the USA they put some 4-5 Premiership games a week on the Fox Soccer Channel — which is dedicated to soccer over here (it’s called soccer here so as not to get confused with American Football). The Premiership games are becoming very popular — particularly with the American youngsters – who play soccer over here as an organized sport at weekends.

One of the major jobs of any chairman is to raise the profile of their football club — globally – and while we would all like the profile raising at Newcastle United being by winning major trophies — which continues our major goal — nevertheless there have been other ways in which Newcastle’s profile has been raised – over the last few years – to make the club one of the top clubs in the world.

In the latest Deloitte Football Money League for the 2005-2006 season (released in February of this year) the total revenue of the world’s Top 20 clubs is now over €3.3 billion — and Newcastle are 13th in terms of total annual revenue (85.9M pounds) and also 13th in actual capital value (how much the club would cost to buy) — not bad for a club that hasn’t won anything for close to forty years.

Here’s the Deloitte Football Money League. :

There are a number of things that Shepherd has achieved that have significantly added to the value of the Newcastle United brand worldwide.

  1. Helped to get St. James’ Park stadium expanded from 36,000 capacity to 52,000 while making it one of the best football stadiums in Europe.
  2. Created one of the most outstanding training facilities anywhere in the world at Little Benton
  3. Placed Newcastle as the central team in the film Goal! The Dream Begins (2006) — beating out both Manchester United and Liverpool.

    The film was successful and seen throughout the world (also shown here in the USA — my wife (a Geordie) thought it was great) and it added positively to Newcastle’s image around the world.

  4. Always backed his managers with money for transfers — even when it wasn’t available.

    It’s not Freddie’s fault that money has been spent on players who should never have been bought in the first place. Also attracts the best players to the club by paying the going wages (even when some of them don’t earn it — like this season).

  5. Bought Michael Owen with a coup from under the noses of his former team, Liverpool — when everyone was almost laughing at Newcastle’s bid to capture Owen.

    The Newcastle group (that included Shepherd, Shearer and Souness) took Michael to a country home and wowed him with the potential greatness of Newcastle United and the fact that living in Newcastle is a great place to raise a family (not always an easy sell to be truthful).

    Owen is the biggest signing by United since Alan Shearer and while obviously it hasn’t paid off yet – we are all waiting to watch Michael drive Newcastle forward in the next couple of years.

  6. Recently announced a 300M pounds ground expansion that will roll out in a three-stage plan to include a major conference room, a hotel and luxury apartments. This will be paid by the Newcastle Council and private business and no money will be paid out by the club — what a deal for both the club and the city of Newcastle!

    The ground capacity will rise from 52,000 to at least 60,000 thereby keeping St James’ Park amongst the finest stadiums in Europe.

  7. Finally we have got the youth program going — under the initial watchful eye of Glenn Roeder — so we can capture the great players that emanate from the north-east.

    Hopefully we will no longer have to watch locally raised talent play for other teams — as in the past. Players like the Charlton Bothers, Alan Shearer, Brian Robson, Michael Carrick and the like will now be captured (and retained by the club — potentially saving a fortune in transfer fees.

    The youth team has reached the semi-finals of the youth cup two years running now — with the other three teams in the semi-finals this year being Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal (not bad company to be in).

A report on Newcastle’s youth policy is posted on the Newcastle United blog.

While there is obvious and justified frustration and anger about the playing side of the club – Freddie Shepherd should be complimented on running the business side of Newcastle United Football Club with some notable successes.

That fact is supported by Newcastle United being one of the best known clubs world-wide.

Just think what it will be like when we actually starting winning things.

Read other Newcastle United stories on Ed Harrison’s blog dedicated to Newcastle United.

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