Toon facing crippling wage bill if they don't escape drop
Newcastle United have not made provisions for relegation in all of the contracts they gave to the players who arrived at St James' Park in January.
The club did not insert relegation clauses into all of the five deals that were given to the French players, who arrived during a spending spree which cost the club £31m in transfer and agents' fees.
Newcastle signed Mathieu Debuchy, Yoan Gouffran, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haidara and Moussa Sissoko during the transfer window in a bold attempt to move away from the relegation zone.
However, despite an initial surge in form, results have tailed off and Newcastle are now in the middle of a relegation fight for the second time in five seasons.
They fell to 17th in the Premier League table when Aston Villa beat Sunderland 6-1 on Monday night, their lowest position since Alan Pardew took over as manager, and now sit just five points above third-bottom Wigan Athletic, who have a game in hand.
Their most recent accounts showed that the club's wage bill was £64.1m – though that was before the influx of new players – against a turnover of £93.3m. That turnover, however, would fall dramatically should they be relegated, as they were in 2009.
The new television rights deal for showing Premier League matches kicks in next season and the clubs are set to receive £60m – a £14m increase in income. This will only expand the financial gap between the Premier League and the Championship.
The situation may be enough to force Newcastle to sell some of their prize assets. Sissoko, who was signed for just £1.8m from Toulouse, would attract great interest.
Other clubs such as Sunderland and Norwich City are believed to have undertaken the safety-first policy.
Sunderland have clauses inserted into the players' contracts as a matter of course. If they were to fall into the Championship, players could see their salaries fall by as much as 40pc. Norwich have put relegation clauses into player contracts that would reduce wages by more than a third.
QPR, who have already been relegated, struggled to persuade some of their more illustrious signings to gamble on such deals that protect the club if things go wrong on the pitch.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has admitted that he would also take a pay cut if the club are relegated from the Premier League.
"There are relegation clauses in all of the contracts," he said. "I have one too. As a football club, it is something we have to have."
It is something that Newcastle don't. (© Independent News Service)