Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Shepherd Looking after His Own Flock

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Shepherd Looking after His Own Flock

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

Freddie Shepherd has claimed he will not lift a finger to help lower league clubs because it could jeopardise Newcastle United's own earning potential.

The United chairman, who has had his fair share of critics during his time in the United boardroom, believes only the Premiership and the biggest clubs in the country matter because they are the most marketable.

But his Darwinistic comments, made at the Soccerex International Football Business Forum in Dubai, are bound to provoke an angry response from those who believe the health of the game is reliant on its grassroots.

While the Premiership has thrived in recent years, many of the clubs outside of its rich playground are struggling to stay afloat. But any thoughts of the top clubs sharing their income more evenly have been dismissed by Shepherd.

He said: "There is little sympathy here. I think it is dog-eat-dog. The big fight will be for the Premier League to take over the running of the other leagues. The others can't hold us back, the time will come, I think, when it is the Premier League running the whole show.

"Many of these other clubs will have to go part-time. When we have got 52,000 fans at each home game the last thing we are worried about is clubs in the third division."

United are currently among the five richest clubs in England and among the top 20 in Europe, despite the fact they have failed to reach the group stages of the Champions League for the past two years.

Nevertheless, Shepherd, who also confirmed the club will tour the USA next summer to coincide with the release of the movie Goal! ( the first part of the trilogy is set at St James's Park ( has not yet been able to get the club into Europe's strongest lobby group, G14.

The G14, which includes Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool, as well as Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Juventus and Bayern Munich, is widely believed to be pushing for a new European Superleague to replace the Champions League. …

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