Football’s link to money has been well-documented. From highly paid players to mega-money buyouts, our beloved sport has become more about business than ever before. While there are indeed many success stories for risk takers in both business and football, it is often a measured approach made by the most successful people. Perhaps it’s worth asking if the Kroenkes may just be the right people to guide us in the modern game where Newcastle could get relegated before they get to spend big.
First off, this wasn’t written to justify the ownership, manager or their decisions. While working on this article, I’ve argued with myself, trying to figure out where I stand and found that, as is the nature of football, opinions should fluctuate. New evidence should indeed change our minds. While I don’t fully “trust the process” or want the manager out, I know that fans on either side of this spectrum want what’s best for the club.
The Kroenkes have spoken of the need for “stability” since their relationship with the club began. From the word outset, many of us saw the word as an excuse to cover up greed or a lack of ambition in the transfer market. While results have certainly been worse at times than our biggest spending rivals, it is difficult to deny that there is tangible benefit to this stability which we are slowly beginning to reap now.
However, dear reader, I’m sure you’ll ask: “is stability enough to keep a club in touch with ambitions such as ours?”
Maybe it is. Maybe it’s not and neither of us knows for sure.
One thing that is for sure though is that the absence of this stability can severely harm these ambitions, as can be seen with the case of Newcastle.
For months, we’ve heard of the transfer kitty which Newcastle’s management would be given to spend. In an instant, the conversation shifted away from “how much can they spend” to “are they permitted to spend 200 million pounds,” with lists of the players who the club would buy being met with lists of those who were surplus to requirements.
Exciting times clearly lay ahead for Newcastle fans, be it this season or next but in a world where confidence is everything, we see a squad that exhibits none. The reasons are many. Bad form and the pressures of a low league position are the most obvious, but stability never comes up. Footballers face a notorious struggle with relation to job security. The battle to stay motivated and work throughout the week without knowing the future of your employment causes much tension for players and managers alike.
Those of us who have done entry-level business at university would’ve come across Frederick Herzberg’s theory of motivation which tells us that without certain basic factors, including job security, motivation toward a job is impossible in any field. The trauma of events like job loss has been directly correlated with adverse effects on the body, even being linked to cancer in some cases. Surely then -in a sport where nothing but your best is enough- being told you’re surplus to requirements whether you perform or not must relate to being second to bottom at the halfway mark?
A run that includes just 1 since the takeover, a fired manager, a tally of just two goals in 5 games and an ownership group that believes that the club “could be relegated” and promised a major overhaul, are evidence of a business currently headed in the wrong direction. Add to this, discussions in the media on which players were likely to “meet the chop,” and we find a situation which seems like a festering pot for` demotivation and a failed spending experiment like QPR’s.
Surely, even those of us who believe that footballers hide behind mental health can empathise with a company giving its WILLING employees the benefit of the doubt.
Some may see this instability as an inevitable symptom of change, and in 20 years, Newcastle could be the biggest club in England and way out of our sight, but with signs of growth weekly, Arsenal fans have much to be excited about in the near future.
Of course, we hope the growth is sustained. Maybe though, just for now, let’s be content with stability in an unstable world.