Lee Charnley, just like his boss, is shameless.
The whole Mike Ashley set-up at Newcastle United is one that looks to cover up the serious lack of investment throughout the club.
Instead of trying to make the club what it could/can be, they choose to throw all their energy behind feeble PR statements and seizing on any positive to divert attention away.
In his nonsense PR statement/interview on Sky Sports in August 2017, Mike Ashley declared: ‘For me, I want to build Newcastle from the bottom up. If I had my dream, I want to start with the Academy. I want to be able to produce more players like Andy Carrolls.’
Well obviously every single club would love to produce as many homegrown players as possible, especially when it comes down to the finances.
It doesn’t take long to expose the shallow nature of what Mike Ashley and is minions say, as 13 months ago, Ashley put this message out through the official NUFC Fans Forum minutes after the club were asked why they weren’t willing to properly invest in the Academy: ‘The club believes the debate around Academies is intensifying. There is a belief that it is becoming more and more difficult to bring through young talent, with managers generally reluctant to call on Academy players in the Premier League. The club also believes the current rules make it easier for the big five or six teams in the country to secure the best players from all other Academy systems.’
The opportunism of the Mike Ashley regime is shameless [as mentioned above] though, with brothers Sean and Matty Longstaff showing up well in the first team, Lee Charnley is now claiming this as some great justification as to how Newcastle United are running their Academy.
This only 13 months after they said in those Fans Forum minutes that focusing/investing on the Academy was basically a waste of time.
As an aside, that Newcastle United Fans Forum in September 2018 was also the last one to happen, the club having refused to have further Fans Forum meetings, despite having committed to four per year previously.
Lee Charnley has now spoken to the media in the shape of The Athletic but refused to answer questions other than on the Academy, simply wanting to grab cheap PR points for his boss on the back of Matty Longstaff’s excellent Premier League debut last weekend.
Lee Charnley inadvertently sums up the [lack of] Mike Ashley ambition when saying: ‘We want to be the best academy in the region’, well when your main/only competition is a League One club, it isn’t exactly setting the bar high.
Lee Charnley says that the club now have a policy of only wanting local kids as much as possible to be recruited at ages 16 and under.
He denies this is just to save money but surely it is laughable how transparent this is.
Rafa Benitez wanted proper investment throughout the club, both in term of infrastructure and recruitment, from Academy to first team level, but Mike Ashley refused. The NUFC owner said in 2013 that a new state of the art training ground was essential if the club were going to be able to compete but both Ashley and Lee Charnley made clear this year that there is no intention in the foreseeable to honour this commitment.
Lee Charnley tells The Athletic that the club’s ‘ultimate aim is that one player every year comes through our system and ends up in our first-team squad. That is what we want to achieve’… well every club wants to do this BUT the difference is that other clubs put the energy and investment into helping to make this happen. Like everything else with Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley, talk is cheap.
It is laughable to try and make out that by cutting funding and not bringing in young talent from further afield, that this then makes it more likely young talent will come through. As Rafa wanted, by investing in facilities and players you can raise the overall quality and help local young players progress and make it into the first team level.
Only this week on his personal blog, Rafa talked about the wisdom of investing say £4m per season in the Academy to hopefully produce a first team squad player each season, whereas Ashley and Charnley want to convince you that by simply limiting the pool to local kids as much as possible, that will lead to more young players making it at NUFC. It is laughable, especially when Mike Ashley’s refusal to invest in the Academy has led to the likes of Luis Longstaff choosing to move to Liverpool and Lewis Gibson to Everton.
Mike Ashley speaking to Sky Sports – August 2017:
“For me, I want to build Newcastle from the bottom up.
“If I had my dream, I want to start with the Academy. I want to be able to produce more players like Andy Carrolls.
“I look at Southampton and the players they have produced from their academy and I believe that could be done, not like Leicester.
“Making that a big priority of the football club and it needs to be separate from the main football club.
“Why don’t you put some money in the North East, a real hotbed of a football academy and this would be my dream that once every two years we put in an academy player, so it is sort of a mantra of the club.
“We give our academy players coming through the first opportunity. Put them in the cup games.”
Newcastle United Fans Forum minutes from meeting on 24 September 2018:
Asked about what was happening with Newcastle United’s Academy and calls for more funding, particularly relevant in light of Mike Ashley’s pledge/priority 13 months earlier (see above) on Sky Sports.
Mike Ashley/Newcastle United replying:
‘The club believes the debate around Academies is intensifying.
‘There is a belief that it is becoming more and more difficult to bring through young talent, with managers generally reluctant to call on Academy players in the Premier League.
‘The club also believes the current rules make it easier for the big five or six teams in the country to secure the best players from all other Academy systems.’
Michael Walker article on The Athletic including talking to Lee Charnley – 11 October 2019:
Lee Charnley: “To see Sean [Longstaff] do it last year and Matty get his opportunity — and he looked like it was his 25th or 50th game, not his first — was so pleasing for everyone. I think it was fantastic and we’ve seen the public reaction, not just the Newcastle public. I saw what Gary Neville tweeted after the game (he praised the boys and said their performance made him happy).”
Charnley did not consider this an appropriate moment to discuss wider club issues — he was asked…
Charnley says: “We want to be the best academy in the region. Our vision is we want local boys to look at it and think it’s not going to be full of boys from London, Manchester or abroad. Between nine and 16, it will be an academy with boys predominantly from the local area. There will be exceptions but generally, it will be local.
“Other clubs may move boys around the country, sign them at 12, 13, 14, move their education. We’re not doing that. Consciously, we have made a decision not to do that and to give local boys the opportunity.”
Charnley knows there will be scepticism. Frugality will be an accusation.
“People say it might be because of this reason [no wanting to spend money] or that but it’s not. It’s a conscious decision to get local boys because we want local boys to see what’s happened with Paul [Dummett], Sean and Matty, and say that’s who they want to be.
“They’ll know, if they’re good enough and work hard enough, they’ll get an opportunity at their hometown club. That’s what we want.”
Charnley says the club’s “ultimate aim is that one player every year comes through our system and ends up in our first-team squad. That is what we want to achieve.”
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