News is good on Tyneside for Mr. Ashley and co.
But managing director Llambias is also talking football, its fans, and the trials and tribulations of trying to revive a giant club with a big, passionate support base, and giving some heartening insights that throw owner Mike Ashley’s regime into a new light.
Llambias talks about the "spirit and soul" of Newcastle United belonging to everyone, not to his boss.
"It can’t be owned by the owner," he said.
As he works through turnover, wages and transfer dealings with the Mirror, Llambias recalls his favourite moments from his time at the club - including seeing grown men cry on the terraces over Newcastle’s sensational comeback from 4-0 down to draw with Arsenal last season.
He speaks of the "incredible emotions" he witnessed at St James’ Park - he and Ashley still call it that in general conversation despite its controversial renaming last year - at the Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland last weekend.
Llambias insists: "People say, 'You are not from the North East', but we do get the passion. Mike and I are emotional people but we also have to be, business wise, the best custodians of the club we can be, so it can thrive for years to come."
The Mirror is a paper that I generally tend to overlook, and for good reason. Simon Bird has mined a sizable bit of gold with this story, however. There is still a great bit of umbrage to be taken with regard to reconciling words and actions - I mean, if they really are feeling that they are understanding the Geordies, then why persist in the destruction of the concept of St. James' Park... and then turn around and assert that, not only should the supporters continue to refer to the stadium as St. James' Park but THEY THEMSELVES REFER TO IT AS ST. JAMES' PARK.
There are a lot of grey areas in the recently announced financial numbers, but the bottom line is that the club are on much more stable footing than they were even three years ago. With Portsmouth into administration yet again and Rangers in financial trouble north of the border, there is much to be glad about with regard to this news.
When I was first reading through this article, I found myself getting carried away with the sentiment- I mean... I want everything to be great from top to bottom in my club. On some level, it's comforting to think that your ownership group is not specifically trying to antagonize you. And yet, just as it seems that they are at least learning to say the right things... well... it ind of seems like that's exactly what it is. Talk.
If they are so attuned to "spirit and soul" of Newcastle United now, and if they themselves refer to the stadium as St. James' Park, why are they persisting with this SDA nonsense. What they have done is take a tangible, marketable idea (naming rights of the stadium) which makes financial sense even if not a popular idea and ruined it's marketability completely. They say their idea is that they're showing potential investors that the branding is an effective tool, and they have exhibited that it is, in fact, not.
But after admitting making past mistakes due to "naivety", Llambias says Newcastle are now getting it right.
It really does have to be admitted that they do seem to be acting with a tiny bit (not much, mind) more consideration for the Geordie faithful. Credit where credit is due, they are under no obligation to have done so or make any effort whatsoever to do so. I just wonder if we need to take a little better look around before we step out into traffic here. Many of the things that are being painted as positive, understanding things (season ticket offers, etc.) are really just sound business. For instance, trying to inch closer to a full stadium every time out by ensuring a stable season ticket base (price freeze!) just makes good sense on a business level. Sure it's going to cost a relatively small amount of money initially, but long-term, you're making more by filling more seats.
The new financial news is being embraced by the media as cause for a giant singing of Kumbaya and a big group hug. I think that it is great news. I can't imagine if we had continued on the path that we were on financially and were now peers with Portsmouth and other administration darlings. For taking us away from that, I am immensely grateful. i am a little bit slower to swallow this new "we really get it now!" idea that is the main idea of this Llambias interview. As we all know, these are very smart businessmen. It smells to me of an attempt to re-brand themselves, and that in and of itself sets me just a touch uneasy about it.