Mike Ashley continues to haunt Newcastle United, with the former owner's incentive scheme, likely laden with unobtainable objectives under his poisonous ownership, now causing issues with the current playing squad.
According to Mike Keegan, writing for Mail Sport, the Newcastle ownership group hasn't settled on an agreement with their players for the upcoming season. The owners have apparently proposed around a 40% reduction in the bonuses set by Ashley. This comes after the club experienced a significant increase in bonus payouts last season due to the 2021 Saudi-led takeover and the team's enhanced performance.
NUFC seemingly had to pay remarkable amounts to meet the conditions set by Ashley, especially after Eddie Howe's side secured a fourth-place finish. If they don't reach a new arrangement soon, they might have another costly season, potentially conflicting with financial fair play rules.
Back in 2017, after disputes regarding bonuses, Ashley personally proposed a £20 million bonus to the players if they clinched the FA Cup. He also presented a "generous" bonus system based on the team's final league position. The new owners are now grappling with the incentives set by Ashley at that time, which were never likely to be achieved under his regime.
Speaking anonymously, an "insider" outlined the situation to Keegan, saying:
"There was a big row after they got back into the Premier League in 2017 and Mike stepped in to fix it. He offered the players around £20m to win the FA Cup and was hugely generous with extraordinary bonuses for league positions.
While it ended the argument back then, it's caused a massive problem for the new owners and they got absolutely hammered last year. Obviously, on the back of the regime change and the new signings, expectations are now very different but the bonus system remains similar.
The club have asked the players to agree a bonus cut of around 40% because it affects how much they can spend under financial regulations. The players aren't keen and if no agreement is reached before the deadline they revert to the existing system and if they do well it will hammer them again."
The club is yet to make a comment, but like Unai Emery's incendiary comments, we expect Howe will be asked about this issue at his press conference tomorrow morning.