Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Newcastle eye European challenge

Mike Ashley

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley wants to re-establish the club as European contenders as he pursues his long-term plan.

The sportswear magnate presided over the club's slide into the Championship at the end of the 2008-09 season, but bankrolled its swift return and is determined to push ahead with his blueprint for stability on and off the pitch. Managing director Derek Llambias confirmed Ashley's intentions after the Magpies reported a loss after player trading of £17.1million for the year ended June 30, 2010.

Llambias said: "Mike knows where we want to be and where we should be in four or five years' time. Our vision for the club is to finish 10th or above every year, year after year. That is our target - we want to be challenging for Europe every season."

The figures revealed that Ashley had ploughed a further £42million into the club in interest-free loans during the reporting period to take the total to £139.8million.

Indeed, Llambias claimed that the club would have gone under without his continued investment in the wake of his failed efforts to sell the business.

He said: "Mike Ashley's money has kept this club buoyant. Quite honestly, Newcastle United would not be here without him, it is as simple as that. He has never taken a penny out of the football club, but he knows what he has to put in every year and he is keen to grow it."

Nevertheless, Ashley is yet to win over his most staunch critics and many more are waiting to see what proportion of the £35million the club raked in from the controversial sale of England striker Andy Carroll in January is handed to manager Alan Pardew to strengthen his squad this summer.

But first, Pardew and his current players have to finish the job of securing the club's Barclays Premier League status, starting with the visit of struggling Wolves to St James' Park on Saturday.

Llambias said: "We are starting to get the stability we need into the football club both financially and within the squad.

"That stability is one of our most important goals. That would give us the security that the club and the playing side needs."

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