Chief executive Darren Eales has admitted even Newcastle could not resist a “£1billion” bid for one of their biggest names after reporting a loss of £73.4million.
The Magpies, who are 80 per cent owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, are considered one of the world’s richest football clubs, but like all their Premier League counterparts they have to operate within profit and sustainability rules.
Sporting director Dan Ashworth has insisted in the past that spending £200m a year on players – Amanda Staveley’s consortium has invested in excess of £400m in the squad since completing its takeover in October 2021 – is unsustainable, prompting speculation that the likes of Sven Botman, Bruno Guimaraes or Alexander Isak could be sold to fund future recruitment.
Asked about that possibility as he discussed the club’s financial figures for the year ending June 30, 2023, Eales said: “It’s difficult to hypothesise, but if we’re offered £1billion for one of those players, then no one could argue against that making sense.
“Any decision we make will always be against the backdrop of the medium to long-term benefit for the club. It’s difficult to say specifically on certain players, but I can say that, if we’re going to get to where we want to get to, at times it is necessary to trade your players.”
Newcastle’s rise since Staveley and her partners – the Ripon-based financier is understood to have reduced her 10 per cent personal stake in the club, but she and the Reuben Brothers still control the remaining 20 per cent of the shares between them – took charge at St James’ Park has been spectacular.
They inherited a side sitting in 19th place in the table and having appointed Eddie Howe as their new head coach, saw him guide them to safety in comfort by the end of the 2021-22 season, and then a fourth-placed finish and Champions League qualification 12 months later with a trip to the Carabao Cup final along the way.
The latest figures, which show a loss after tax of £73.4m, but also how the club have grown off the pitch – turnover increased by £70.3m (39 per cent) from £180m to £250.3m, while an operating loss of £26.4m was transformed into a profit of £20.1m.
However, increased player amortisation costs – the way transfer fees are spread across the length of contracts – rose to £89.3m, contributing to the overall deficit, but one which falls within permitted limits.
The documents also reveal the club have loaned Staveley more than £1.2m “in respect of certain legal fees” which are unspecified.
The results do not include projected revenue of at least £37m from the club’s involvement in this season’s Champions League, nor income from new sponsorship deals with Sela and Adidas, and efforts to increase commercial revenue are ongoing with an expansion of the stadium one possibility.
Eales said: “To put it into perspective, we want to be a top-six sustainable club and Tottenham’s latest accounts available, (total revenue) was £440m. We are at £250m, so there is a big step even to the lower end of the top six.
“We have also seen that Manchester City are £710m in revenue in their latest accounts. There is a long way to go in growing those revenues.”
Eales, who signalled the club’s intention to retain the services of Ashworth amid reported interest from Manchester United, indicated that significant investment during the “difficult” January transfer window is unlikely, but insisted there were no plans to loan players from the Saudi Arabian clubs in which PIF holds controlling interests.
He also confirmed Howe’s centrality to the project amid speculation over his future during a testing series of results as 2023 drew to a close.
Eales said: “There’s no doubt we have had that real progression on the pitch and Eddie is a huge, integral part of that. We hope he is going to be with us for many years to come.”