Project Zebra: Improving Newcastle United

Under Mike Ashley, Newcastle United's future as a football club was directionless. But with new ownership comes new opportunity and new direction. Let's take a look at a few possible areas of improvement.

There’s still no further progress on the potential takeover of Newcastle United, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Naturally, we’re all starting to get a bit twitchy, but despite all the opposition to the takeover, journalists are bullish that the takeover will still go through, and some have even mentioned that towards May 1st we might hear something.

However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. While we’re all ready to celebrate with #cans, there are definite areas off the field that need desperate attention should Newcastle United want to compete on the field. I’ve identified some of these areas below..

St James’s Park

For years and years under Mike Ashley’s ownership St. James’s Park has existed to be an advertising platform for his business – Sports Direct. It goes without saying that those need to be pulled down should the takeover go through. I’m sure a few volunteers can be found..

There are also parts of the St. James’s Park interior that need attention. On a tour of the stadium last year the club were busy painting the tunnel and the area leading up to the steps behind the Gallowgate. This looks great, but the walls of the concourses of the stadium are cracked, the TVs have been downgraded significantly, and the Platinum club has had the same carpet for years and it shows. That’s not the standard for a club looking to compete at the top of the Premier League.

Training and Academy Upgrades

Arguably one of the most important items new owners should look to address is the infrastructure. While FFP regulations mean that Newcastle will be a bit restricted when it comes to player acquisition, the training HQ is years behind. Even the likes of Brighton have upgraded their facilities to be up to modern day standards.

Rafa Benitez was said to be impressed with the plans he was shown by Lee Charnley when he first joined the club, the reality was that only a new coat of paint was applied in upgrading the training facilities, with certain members of Newcastle United’s hierarchy calling them ‘adequate’. We need to attract top class players and staff to the club, and to do that we need to invest in development of the club from the inside out.

Invest in the Community

With the moral and ethical concerns of Saudi Arabian investment in Newcastle United coming under scrutiny, a lot of fans are conflicted. Human rights issues in Saudi Arabia shouldn’t be ignored, but as a fan, it’s hard to contain excitement at the new direction the club could go under new ownership.

It’s only fair then that with the takeover we judge the new owners on how they invest in the city and the community of Newcastle. That’s where they have decided to invest their money so that’s where they should be judged. The people of Newcastle are just crying out to be involved in a long term relationship with its club again.

Rename 9 Bar back to Shearer’s

As symbolic a gesture as this may seem, it would go a long way with most fans of the club, many of whom can remember when the name of the bar was changed. Shearer is the leading goalscorer in Premier League history, so let’s change the name of the man’s bar and bring his statue back on club property.