“Welcome to Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United: a club where senseless transfers can be conducted as a ‘favour’ to South American agents; where directors tell a baffled manager to look up his new signing on YouTube” – George Caulkin

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “I resigned because I was being asked to sanction the signing of a player in order to do a favour for two South American agents. No one at the club had seen the player play and I was asked to sign him on the basis of some clip on YouTube. This is something I was not prepared to be associated with in any way.” – Kevin Keegan. (The full statement can be read here.)

Runner-up: “Mr Wise telephoned Mr Keegan and told him that he had a great player for the club to sign, namely Ignacio González, and that he should look him up. Mr Keegan tried to locate him on the internet but could find no reference to him. Mr Wise told him that he had been on loan at Monaco but having checked out the details, Mr Keegan was unimpressed and told Mr Wise that he did not think the player was good enough. Mr Wise then told him that the player was on YouTube and that Mr Keegan could look him up there, but he found that the clips were of poor quality and provided no proper basis for signing a player to a Premier League club. Moreover, no one at the club had ever seen him play. However, notwithstanding that he made it clear not only to Mr Wise but also to Mr Jimenez and to Mr Ashley that he very strongly objected to the signing of Mr González [he was to be signed on loan with an option to purchase], the club proceeded with the deal and the transfer was concluded the following day, on 31 August 2008.” – a statement from the arbitration panel.


Today’s overview: Newcastle bashing is top billing this Saturday. On Friday it was announced that Kevin Keegan had won his case against Newcastle for constructive dismissal, and today the backpages try to work out the ramifications from that judgment.

Diving straight in Louise Taylor identifies that for “particularly those clubs which employ a director of football, the panel declared that although it was not spelt out in Keegan’s contract, managers have the right to have a final say on transfers.”

Looking for the principles to have been established from the case, Henry Winter toots “the former manager of Newcastle has now shown that it can be wrong legally, let alone ethically, for directors to meddle in team affairs… Managers cannot be saddled with unwanted players simply because the club want to keep some middle-men happy.”

David Conn then begins to tear into the Toon. “Some interpreted Keegan’s exit as another walkout by a man with a tendency to flounce, but the judgment vindicates him as a man of pride and principle. As the manager he was not prepared to sanction that signing, which was being urged on him by Dennis Wise, the man Ashley appointed as executive director (football).” Next up to stick the boot in is George Caulkin. “Welcome to Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United: a club where senseless transfers can be conducted as a ‘favour’ to South American agents; where directors tell a baffled manager to look up his new signing on YouTube; where officials consistently mislead supporters ‘as an exercise in public relations.'”

But what about the future sale of Newcastle? How has the Keegan case affected matters?

According to George Caulkin, the verdict may have helped the Magpies. “The £2 million figure — plus interest — is unlikely to interfere with the club’s prospective takeover. Newcastle had been pressing for a similar amount from their former employee for breach of contract… With the resolution of the Keegan issue, another obstacle has been removed and there is still hope that a convoluted £100 million deal can be completed for a club relegated from the Barclays Premier League last season.”

Looking at more broadbrush issues, David Lacey investigates how it has been that 71 goals have been scored in the last two rounds of Premier League fixtures. “There have been several matches this season in which the defending has been so inept that the resulting goals have been an embarrassment to a league which believes it is the best in the world.” Over in the Independent, columnist Andy Cole offers his reasons for the goal-rush. “As someone who scored a few goals in this league, my view is that we’re blessed with a crop of top-class strikers that we’ve rarely, if ever, seen operating at this level since the 1990s.”

Staying on wide wider issues affecting football, Patrick Barclay makes the case for allowing certain clubs to die in the current economic landscape. “At a time when the public purse is being snapped shut on our Armed Forces and ministers are offering education cuts, the loss of a few football clubs should hardly detain us.”

Delving into clubs on the financial brink, Pompey are hanging dangerous near the edge with Jeremy Wilson suggesting the club could be now incredibly be sold again. “Sulaiman Al-Fahim will be provided with a potential exit strategy from Portsmouth after it emerged that the Al-Faraj brothers, who have funded a £5 million loan to help pay the players’ wages, remain interested in taking control of the club.” And the picture worsens for Portsmouth with Simon Bird noting that the tax man is heading to the seaside. “Revenue officials are set to begin proceedings against Portsmouth Football club if the South Coast club fails to settle an outstanding tax bill.”

Happily the tabloids throw numbers into the mix when discussing Pompey’s woes. Matt Lawton chimes “Sulaiman Al Fahim’s troubled tenure as owner of Portsmouth could be all but over in less than a fortnight if he fails to find £16.5million that includes a staggering £3m payment to two leading agents.”

Perched dangerously high on his soapbox, Des Kelly blasts Tim Cahill for his midweek celebrations aimed at the people of Samoa. “I’m sure Tim Cahill had what is usually described at this point as the ‘best of intentions’ when he performed his mime. We know his mother comes from Samoa and that he played for their Under 20 side. But there is something undeniably crass about reducing the impact of an international catastrophe to an amateur dramatics cameo on a football field. It’s the vanity of it. The idea that this posturing has some wider meaning beyond simple showing off.”

In the Saturday interview, Hull manager Phil Brown sets about trying to convince Daniel Taylor that he is still happy at the Tigers, while Fernando Torres spouts the usual “I am really relaxed here” diatribe in discussing his life at Liverpool with Andy Hunter.

In the transfers, Mark Odgen coughs up the furball that “Manchester United will have to pay at least £20 million for Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill if Sir Alex Ferguson follows up his growing interest in the 23 year-old next summer.”

The Daily Mail gossips that “Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are set to renew their battle to sign Patrick Vieira in January after the France midfielder announced he will quit Inter Milan if he is not given more playing time,” while Ashley Gray blubbers “Roman Pavlyuchenko has flown to Moscow for talks with his agent after growing increasingly convinced that he must leave Tottenham Hotspur to save his international career.”

Staying with Spurs, Charlie Wyatt shouts in The Sun “Robbie Keane is on his way out of Tottenham – with Celtic ready to pounce.”