Alan Pardew has revealed that Newcastle United would have had to take out a bank loan in order to make any permanent signings during the summer, such is the extent of the financial restrictions that owner Mike Ashley is imposing on the club.
The Magpies were the only Premier League side not to bring in a first-team player on a permanent deal, with their sole capture of striker Loic Remy a season-long loan from Queens Park Rangers.
The financial restrictions are even more surprising after the club admitted they had signed the “best commercial deal” in the club’s history when they agreed to have money-lenders ‘Wonga’ as their main shirt sponsor, plus the added television revenue of the new season worth a minimum £14m extra to each club in the top flight.
“I have to say a marquee signing would have taken us into our overdraft facility,” said Pardew, when asked about the club’s failure in the transfer market.
“That was something we really didn’t want to do, although there were two or three bids that went in that would have definitely put us in that [overdraft].
“There was the will there, but I don’t want to say any more than that. I don’t want to affect our fans any more than they’ve been affected.”
Newcastle fans were outraged with the club’s lack of transfer activity, following Joe Kinnear’s return to the club in a director of football roll aimed with the task of improving player recruitment.
They will be angered further by this latest revelation, with the situation appearing to be Ashley’s intention to run the club for profit rather than improve the playing squad.
Ashley has leant the club over £100m in interest free loans to eliminate the debts that the club had when he took over on Tyneside in 2007, and the further costs of the relegation to the Championship four years ago.
But with the Sports Direct owner benefitting from millions of pounds of free advertising at St James’ Park, fans will now feel that those loans are being repaid to Ashley rather than seeing the squad strengthened after their scrape with relegation last season.
The last time the club revealed its financial figures, Ashley had taken £11m out of the club, and despite the Magpies media department insisting that he has not taken out any more since, the increased income for this season suggests that the money is going to the billionaire owner rather than the club’s coffers.
However, former director of football Derek Llambias admitted in March that the club were in a very healthy financial situation, and that any signings in the summer would not be dependent on player sales – a notion that Pardew backed up at the end of the season when he admitted he wanted to see new faces within his squad for the new season.
“We have made a profit of £1.4m, but we will not have to sell to buy in the summer,” Llambias said after the club made five new signings in January this year.
"There are several positions we are looking at. Next year, we will have the extra TV money. There is a budget to spend. We are actively looking at players and have been since October, all over Europe.”