Was Newcastle United’s Champions League qualification solely down to financial resources?

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Newcastle United will play in next season’s UEFA Champions League after securing a top-four Premier League finish – the first time the club have done so in twenty years.

The Magpies, now generally considered the richest sports club in the world, have endured two relegations and several mediocre campaigns in that time.

But their fortunes rapidly turned around in October 2021 thanks to a dramatic takeover, which took place with the club sat 19th in the Premier League. 

As a result, some have attributed the success of Eddie Howe’s men this season to the huge financial resources now on offer.

Eddie Howe (centre) and staff celebrate Newcastle’s fourth goal against Brighton in May. Photo credit: Getty Images.

In October 2022, a member of Sky Sports talkshow ‘The Social’, Rory Jennings, made a YouTube video entitled “Why I HATE Newcastle”, citing money as the main reason for their success, whilst in February 2023, an article by The Spectator stated that Newcastle’s “achievements are tainted because it is built with money from a bloodthirsty Saudi Arabian regime.”

But, with Newcastle having played what many describe as elegant and attractive football to consolidate a top-four finish, has the Toon’s success actually all been down to money, like some have suggested?

According to 3AddedMinutes.com, Newcastle were the fifth-highest spenders in the Premier League for the 2022/23 season, with big-money signings such as Alexander Isak, Sven Botman and Anthony Gordon contributing to a net spend of around £165 million on players.

Arsenal and Manchester United came in at fourth and second respectively, but the remaining two clubs on the list, Chelsea and West Ham, finished in the bottom-half of the Premier League this season. Chelsea topped the list having spent a reported £546 million on players – £381 million more than Newcastle.

St. James’ Park will be playing host to Champions League football next season. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Sam Mulliner, a member of Newcastle Fans TV, said that whilst the takeover undoubtedly contributed, the excellent recruitment strategy and the return of a strong community culture throughout the club is ultimately what has led to a dream season in the north-east.

“I think our success is a combination of ingenious recruitment over two transfer windows.

“The consortium led by Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi know full well what they’ve got. They listened to the fans. The fans have a voice. The flags returned and St James’ Park is once again a fortress. Supporters are listened to and feel valued which brings a tremendous feel good factor to the club, the city, and the fan base.”

In line with this, it is clear that the takeover has brought a feel-good factor back to Tyneside.

“This has given the club its community feel back”, said Sam.

Incredibly, Newcastle United were in the relegation zone as recently as February 2022. But fifteen months on, Eddie Howe has guided the Magpies to a fourth place finish in the table, with a coveted spot in Europe’s top competition secured for next season – something that has perhaps come ahead of schedule for the rebuilding Toon army.

With no superstar egos this season, many feel that Newcastle have become a club who epitomise collective team spirit, both on and off the field.

Callum Wilson, Newcastle’s top scorer this season, celebrates sealing victory against Brighton. Credit: Getty Images

Another Newcastle fan, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed that the success of the club this season comes down to a combination of factors, with it not solely resulting from the huge financial resources now available.

“You can’t just throw money at a collection of players and expect it to instantly fit like Chelsea.

“One of the main reasons is everyone pulling in the same direction for the first time, fans, owners and players all wanting sporting success and that is something we never had before.

“Also smart recruitment, especially Trippier, Botman, Bruno – strong group of players with no superstar egos in the dressing room. 

“Then add Howe into the mix who is able to make existing players play beyond their level, some like Almiron and Murphy we were ready to declare not even fit for purpose in the Premier League, and they’ve became key players – that’s fully on coaching.”

All eyes will be eagerly on St. James Park next season, with the return of Champions League football to the north-east promising to be a spectacle to behold.

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