Premier League

Llambias upbeat on Toon future

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Wed, 10 Oct 2012 12:09:00

Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias is sure the events of the past fortnight have helped to secure the long-term future of the club.

During that period, owner Mike Ashley managed to tie up manager Alan Pardew and his coaching staff on eight-year contracts and secure a sponsorship deal with digital finance company wonga.com, part of which will see the name of the stadium revert to St James' Park after a controversial spell as, officially at least, the Sports Direct Arena.

There was disquiet in some quarters on Tuesday at the club's association with the Wonga brand, but as the dust settled on another interesting day on Tyneside, Llambias was wearing a satisfied smile.

He told the Journal: "It's been a big fortnight - a very big fortnight. For me, it's all about stability.

"To be able to get the coaching staff and the manager on side for eight-year deals, and then complete our sponsorship deal with Wonga, plus the stadium naming rights as part of that - it's a good two weeks, it's a very good two weeks for the club.

"It's all about the season for us now. It's about getting the injuries cleared up - but that's Alan's job. Thank God I don't have to get too involved in that."

Ashley has spent much of the time since he bought the club in May 2007 fighting a head-on battle with fans who have railed at many of his decisions, few as unpopular as the one to change the name of the stadium to include that of his own company.

Tyneside heroes Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer came and went and in the eyes of many onlooker, were treated shabbily during a disastrous period for the Magpies which included relegation from the Barclays Premier League, and unlikely saviour Chris Hughton was later summarily dispatched amid fears he had taken Newcastle as far as he could.

However, promotion and last season's fifth-placed finish, which secured European football for the first time since Ashley's arrival, along with the implementation of a financial model which has proved hugely successful, have helped to ease a tense relationship.

Nevertheless, there are those who will never forget some of the less popular decisions.

Llambias admitted: "We started off poorly. I came in after the first year, I picked up from there and it's been a difficult, difficult period.

"We have been plugging away, slowly. You don't understand what we have done - we have done a good job. We have been realistic about what this club can do and what it can do in the future.

"Financially we are stable and we will get stronger and stronger. You have to understand, we have got an owner who's not used to failure. What we have got now is a very good format moving forward."

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