Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Safety-First Llambias Is Aiming to Make the Magpies' Finances as 'Boring' as Possible; THE INTERVIEW: Derek Llambias Newcastle United's Accounts Made for Pleasant Reading. Chief Sports Writer Mark Douglas Hears from Derek Llambias about Why the Future Is Bright - Because the Accounts Are Boring

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Safety-First Llambias Is Aiming to Make the Magpies' Finances as 'Boring' as Possible; THE INTERVIEW: Derek Llambias Newcastle United's Accounts Made for Pleasant Reading. Chief Sports Writer Mark Douglas Hears from Derek Llambias about Why the Future Is Bright - Because the Accounts Are Boring

Article excerpt

THIS is a boring story. That is the intro that Derek Llambias wanted to this tale of prudence and sound financial husbandry and, casting a look over the Newcastle United financials for the year just passed, that is exactly what he's managed to produce.

No more crazy, off-the-cuff decisions, no more supporter uproar. Mike Ashley might never be adored by United fans, but it is difficult to argue that his model hasn't visited stability on St James' Park - along with a squad that Llambias says has some "big, big names in it".

So first the black-and-white bottom line: United turned a PS1.4m profit from a year where they didn't make any eyewatering sales - and have even begun to chip away at one of the debts they owe to Mike Ashley.

All of this was achieved alongside a summer recruitment programme that imported Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and company - and without adding a triple windfall for the club: the Wonga deal, the TV bonanza and another soon-to-be announced commercial deal.

And to labour the point, next year's accounts are already pleasing their auditors.

"I'm very pleased with these accounts. They're boring," dead-panned Llambias.

"And we've just met our auditors for our half-year accounts and they're delighted. They told us that if you took away the football side of it, any business would be delighted with our accounts. That's without the sale of Andy Carroll and also the spend. It shows we're improving in all areas."

Produce a set of accounts where the ink is mostly black and supporters nod their heads in approval.

But that is soon forgotten if the football on offer is neither entertaining nor successful. Llambias says the club are pushing closer to their triple objective: producing a winning, flair team at affordable prices.

Fifth place last year hinted at the first thing; an increase in attendances (but with reduced revenue) suggests they are starting to do the latter, too.

"The model works. Not only is it viable as a business model, it's also viable as a business on the field," Llambias said.

"The quality of the players on the field and the numbers: that is the model. It's not just one aspect of the business that is working at the moment, it's all aspects.

"It's a difficult balance when you consider that last summer we bought one player in because we thought we had enough coming through. But we kept our squad.

"Last summer was basically about keeping our squad. We weren't joking when we said that if anyone made a call about anyone, we asked for PS25m. That's anyone. Sooner or later, people will go away. That's how we kept our squad together."

It is not all sweetness and light, however. United are still not safe yet - although Llambias is not unduly worried by the threat of relegation - and there has been an acceptance up high that the season has been pot-holed with mistakes. …

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