Football: Hall to hand over the reins at St James'

Yesterday Sir John Hall announced that he will stand down as chairman of Newcastle United in December. His financial investment and business acumen powered the club's recovery from the depths of the old Second Division to a place in the European Champions

The alarm bells sounded with ironic timing at St James' Park yesterday afternoon. Sir John Hall had just finished delivering his resignation speech when the fire drill started. It was a reminder of just how far the shining knight had taken his beloved Newcastle United.

The metaphorical alarm bells could hardly have rung with greater resonance back on 27 December 1990, the night when the National-Coal-Board-surveyor- turned-millionaire-property-developer took over as chairman of the black and white board.

The once-mighty Magpies had slumped to fourth from bottom of the old Second Division and were in debt to the tune of pounds 5m. "The club is in an horrendous state," Sir John said then. "We have an overdraft limit of pounds 4m and we're losing pounds 700,000 a year in interest charges alone. The haemorrhaging has got to stop."

The following day brought a change for the better. Newcastle beat Bristol Rovers in front of 19,329 at St James', their first win for seven games. Tomorrow night they play host to Barcelona in a Champions' League match beamed live to 151 countries.

"It's an opportune moment," Sir John said of the timing of the announcement that he will stand down from the chair and the board at Newcastle's annual general meeting on 1 December.

"Barcelona was the first place I visited when I set out to build Newcastle United and to start a sporting club. I looked at their team and the 100,000 people in the Nou Camp and thought that some day we'd get there. We're here now. To be playing Barcelona in the Champions' League is the realisation of a dream.

"This club was on the edge of bankruptcy when I first took over. We made a mission statement that we wanted to be one of the top three clubs in the UK and one of the top 10 in Europe. There were many doubters out there. But we're here now.

"I feel I've done everything I set out to achieve. I'm 65 next year. I started work at 16. My father worked 50 years in the pits and he's got a certificate on the wall. I don't want to get that certificate. I want to do other things."

Those are unlikely to include making "good use of his bus pass," as was suggested by Freddie Shepherd, the Tyneside businessman who who will assume the chairmanship with Douglas Hall, Sir John's son, becoming vice-chairman. Hall senior has accepted a life presidency and intends to "travel on the continent in an ambassadorial role."

The need for such duties hardly seemed likely back in December 1990, when Sir John resigned after eight months on the Newcastle board. The share offer championed by his Magpie Group had been an embarrassing failure, attracting just pounds 1.25m worth of applications. Had he not chosen to return a year later, Newcastle would not be taking that much in revenue from one match tomorrow.

They might not have been in any league, let alone the same one as Barcelona.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album