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Are Newcastle Seeking To Gain An Unfair Advantage By Calling Games Off
Friday, 31st Dec 2021 09:00

Most of the news about Newcastle United this week has been Eddie Howe moaning that his squad is down to the bare bones with Covid and injuries and how this is so unfair on his side in their fight against relegation.

When Newcastle moan about the number of injuries in the squad and how games should be called off, they won't find much sympathy amongst Saints supporters.

Against Manchester United on Monday, there were 19 Newcastle United players named in the matchday squad. However, the eight Newcastle United players named on the bench included two goalkeepers and two teenagers who are yet to start a Premier League match.

That reminds Saints supporters of our trip to Manchester United last season when our squad contained two teenagers yet to start a League game in the starting line up let alone the bench, we too had two keepers on the bench and aside from Nathan Redmond and goalkeeper Fraser Forster the other 7 on the bench were all kids, most of whom had never made a first team appearance.

Newcastle fans will probably be unaware of this as we didn't moan about it we just got on with the game and we probably do all know how that finished.

So after getting their game called off against Everton and now it seems trying to do the same against Saints in a few days time, i'm sorry but the cynical side of football fans is starting to come out.

Newcastle online fanzine The Mag were dismissive of the views of Everton fans when the game was called off saying:

"The outrage of Everton fans, amongst others, to the postponement was laughable, considering Newcastle United were one of less than a handful of Premier League clubs to have not already had a game called off."

I'm not sure it was laughable though, Everton had every right to question how Newcastle with a squad of 25 outfield players & 5 keepers of which 21 of the outfield players and 2 of the keepers have made Premier League appearances this season.

In this pandemic it is said about 1 in 10 currently have the virus, so given that Newcastle will have to lose around 12 of their 25 outfield players before they can get the game called off, if we say they have 4 injuries and 8 covid cases, their average is around 1 in 4 having covid, why have Newcastle got such a higher ratio ?

Newcastle had every incentive to call the game off and indeed the trip to St Mary's on Sunday, yes they will be down to the bare bones, but we had to battle through virtually the whole second half of the season with 6 or 7 genuine first team players out injured at every given time, did we ask for games to be called off ? no we got on with it.

But Newcastle are playing for higher stakes, if they had lost at Everton and indeed come to St Mary's and lose it would be a big task to get out of relegation trouble even with their multi millions.

It is those multi millions that are the issue here, Newcastle will spent big in January to get them out of trouble so they can spend big again in the summer in their attempt to push themselves into the top 4, so they would definitely prefer to play two clubs in Saints and Everton whom they would see as two winnable games with their new big signing than even their full squad at the moment 100% fit let alone ravaged by Covid.

So they will be desperate to get the games off and play them when they will have a greater advantage, if the League brought out a ruling that no player signed after the original date of the postponed game could play in the rescheduled fixture, then I bet Newcastle would kick off against that.

I am not going to get into the political issues surrounding Newcastle' recent takeover, but the mindset of the club and a proportion of the fanbase has changed, a little like Manchester City who had spent decades putting themselves forward as the peoples Club Of Manchester and that they would never want to be like the corporate owned United, the moment that it happens, suddenly the past is forgotten and it is sad that Newcastle fans will probably go the same was as City's change from being plucky underdogs and salt of the earth fans to being just as arrogant as those they once professed to despise.

Perhaps Newcastle are below the 13 outfield players needed for the game to go ahead, but Everton fans, Saints fans and indeed most fans who support clubs other than Newcastle will look at it with a lot more cynicism.

Photo: Action Images

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RednWight added 09:13 - Dec 31
In a word

mattthelegend added 09:37 - Dec 31
Spot on Nick, but why is there no transparency around who at the club actually has COVID? I really think the Premier League should be doing far more investigation as to who has actually contracted it. You know, I know what Newcastle are doing, i just guess money talks again in football.

JGH added 10:10 - Dec 31
Completely agree. Can't say I blame Newcastle at all but the system seems far too open to abuse.

I do however think the comparisons you make with the national average (also made in previous articles) is over simplistic. Doesn't take into account things like regional, age group variances, etc and more importantly ignores the simple fact that by the nature of their job footballers are in closer proximity than the average group of colleagues, if 1/2 players get it, it is incredibly likely to spread to several others. That isn't necessarily a club/organisations fault as you suggest.

OwenTheSaint added 10:55 - Dec 31
The Premier League need to get far more involved in these postponements. They need to independently test the players to see who can play and who can’t play, and if it’s the latter, they then need to determine whether they can’t play because of Covid, suspension or injury. By all means get a game postponed but for the rescheduled fixture, only the players who were originally fit, or who had Covid for the first game, should be eligible for the rescheduled fixture. No team should be gaining an advantage by allowing players time to regain fitness, or to come back from suspension, or time to buy new players, in time for the rescheduled game. This approach should be applied to all teams in the league, not just Saints and Newcastle. To be honest, this idea is not rocket science, the fact that it’s not been implemented so far does hint at the quality (or lack of quality) of the people involved in the governance of the league. Best league in the world we are told!

ForlornHope added 11:01 - Dec 31
Perhaps the fairest way would to play postponed matches without players signed in the January transfer window?

DellBoyWally added 11:01 - Dec 31
Of course it's a con.
Insist players are fully vaccinated and nobody would have a problem.
I agree your suggestion Nick that players purchased after the original cancelled game should not be eligible. That said, considering the names of many players supposedly being acquired by NU, I wouldn't worry!!!

halftimeorange added 11:03 - Dec 31
Money talks. End of. You can bet that the less wealthy clubs will get the short end of the stick off the field, exactly the same as on it.

highfield49 added 11:04 - Dec 31
I'd like to think that any club asking for matches to be called off has to present authentic medical evidence to demonstrate that players are unfit to play. I'm guessing that they do but Newcastle are clearly a sitting duck for speculation because of their league position and potential "financial doping" to get themselves out of trouble.
As far as I'm aware the game on Sunday is still set to be played and I'm hoping that Newcastle will field a team regardless of age and experience just to demonstrate that they aren't seeking to gain from their lack of squad depth.
Of course we all suspect that if they were sitting in mid table they would have played at Everton but surely, snigger, that would be too cynical to suggest in a sporting context. The difficulty is that Newcastle shouldn't be penalised unless every other club is similarly penalised for not being able to field a team. What they may or may not spend in January is potentially no different to Burnley, Leeds or Watford strengthening their squads.
Quite simply if they have sufficient players on their books to put out a team then they should be told to play, otherwise it can only raise the issue that cheating is acceptable if you don't get caught out.

SaintPaulVW added 11:22 - Dec 31
The EPL are a load of businesses organised around a sporting competition. All's fair in business, so yes, if they can, they will try to gain any advantage off the pitch.

Happy New year to everyone on here. As always I've enjoyed reading, if not always agreeing with everyone's opinions. It's been a great source of enjoyment in a topsy turvy year both on and off the pitch. Hopefully things will be back on track in the short term now.

COYR in '22


Colburn added 12:06 - Dec 31
It's like those people who died from covid when in fact they died after a car accident and tested positive.. I don't believe any of this nonsense anymore, nobody seems to have a clue what's going on and there's a severe lack of honesty and logic to it all. I'm not surprised that Newcastle are trying to take advantage of the confusion and uncertainty, that's what the elite do..

IanRC added 12:46 - Dec 31
Owen - best league in the world despite rather than because of the biased FA and officials.

Peterx added 13:21 - Dec 31
Hopefully when we finally play both Brentford and Newcastle we have that extra motivation to get a win and get the job done.

Block8 added 15:50 - Dec 31
Football as a sport has become a game where every advantage is sought whether by fair means or foul. I'm not at all surprised by clubs trying to use any rule that may benefit them and I'm pretty sure if we were in a similar position we would do the same. Before you all go apoplectic remember this wasn't on offer last year, so we couldn't!

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