To say that Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is one of the most unpopular figures in the club’s history among the Toon Army would be something of an understatement – and he is doing himself no favours with his future plans on Tyneside.
The British businessman has been at the heart of plenty of controversial decisions while with the Magpies, from the renaming of St James’ Park to the lack of transfer funds made available to current manager Rafael Benitez, and he could well be on course to irk the supporters once more.
The Chronicle claim that the Magpies are considering axing their academy squads under the age of 16, leaving just older, more experienced talent to come through in a move which will reportedly cut costs for the club.
Now Newcastle’s history of youth development is shocking, but having no youth teams for the youngest talent out there is not just playing a risky game, it is also detrimental to the community in the north east.
It leaves the likes of fierce local Sunderland and Middlesbrough, as well as Scottish clubs, to pick out the best youth talent before they hit 16, while the Magpies turn their attentions to the older players who are more likely to be ready made and successful in their progression.
Newcastle have already – quite infamously – missed out on the likes of Michael Carrick and Alan Shearer when recruiting youngsters, and the thought of seeing the next future stars of the north east playing in red, rather than black, and white is embarrassing for the club.
This really is a new low for Ashley as he looks to eek out every possible penny, and it is not a situation the Toon Army can let slide by.