While Newcastle United was expected to shell out huge sums and prise away some of the biggest names, its transfer-strategy has been far more practical. In 2021, the club was sold to a consortium led by the Saudi Arabian government’s Public Investment Fund which instantly turned it into one of the most affluent clubs in the world.
Newcastle United is based in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in the north-east of England and is the 9th most successful club in English football. It has won 4 top-division league-titles, 6 FA Cups and 1 UEFA Intertoto Cup. Despite enjoying modest success on the pitch in recent times, Newcastle has a rich fan-base across the globe and is considered to be the most passionately supported football club.
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Newcastle United is easily identified with its black and white striped shirts which are worn with black shorts and socks. The club crest contains elements of the city’s coat of arms with a castle tower on top representing the city keep and it is flanked by a couple of hippocampuses symbolising the bond that Tyneside shares with the sea.
Being the biggest and most successful club of the region, Newcastle Utd draws great support from the entire north-east of England. The team is nicknamed the Magpies while its supporters are known as the Geordies, who in turn like to refer to themselves as the Toon Army.
St. James’ Park located at the heart of the city has been the home of Newcastle Utd since 1892. It has seen various changes and expansions over the last century and more with its present capacity at 52,305 spectators. It remains the oldest and largest stadium in the north-east of England and the 9th biggest overall in the country.
Newcastle shares a bitter, long-standing rivalry with Sunderland against which it competes in the Tyne-Wear derby with only 12 miles separating the two clubs. It also battles another club from the region in Middlesbrough in the Tyne-Tees derby which has been the more frequent occurrence in recent years.
The origins of Newcastle United stretches back to a football founded in 1881 by the Stanley Cricket Club of Byker. It was renamed Newcastle East End FC the following year to avoid confusion with the cricket club. Meanwhile Newcastle West End FC was formed by the West End Cricket Club which moved into St. James’ Park in 1886.
In 1889, Newcastle East End turned professional while Newcastle West End hovered on the brink of ruin and approached the former offering a takeover. The two clubs merged together in May 1892 and was renamed as Newcastle United later in the year to signify the unification of the two teams.
The Early Decades
Newcastle United was denied membership into the Football League First Division at the start of the 1892/93 campaign. It invited Newcastle to play in its new Second Division which was in turn rejected. Eventually Newcastle agreed to join the Second Division for the start of the following season along with Liverpool and Woolwich Arsenal.
At the end of its debut campaign in the Football League, Newcastle narrowly missed out on moving up to the top-tier after finishing in 4th position. On its 5th attempt, the club was able to earn promotion to the top-flight for the first time after finishing as runners-up in the Second Division in 1897/98.
In 1898/99, Newcastle played its maiden campaign in the First Division and finished the season in 13th position. The Magpies went on to claim the top-division title for the first time by edging out Everton and Manchester City at the end of 1904/05. It also reached its maiden FA Cup final where it lost 2-0 to Aston Villa.
Newcastle went to the FA Cup final again in 1905/06 and this time it lost the match to Everton by a single goal. The Magpies then picked up its 2nd First Division title at the conclusion of the 1906/07 season. It ended as runners-up of the FA Cup for the 3rd time after going down 3-1 to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the final.
Nevertheless, in 1907/08 Newcastle United was able to clinch its 3rd First Division title within a span of just 5 years. At the end of 1908/09, it won the FA Cup for the first time with a 2-0 victory over Barnsley in the replay of the final. The club went to the FA Cup final again in 1901/10 but lost the trophy to Bradford City.
Despite taking 3rd position in 1910/11, Newcastle would quickly drop down the table in the next few years. It soon became a shadow of its former self as it ended the 1913/14 campaign in 15th position. At this time, World War I broke out in Europe and football activities would be suspended for the next 4 years.
When the Football League resumed for the 1919/20 campaign, Newcastle United appeared to have come out in a slightly better shape and finished the season in 8th spot. It could not lay a challenge for the league-title in the early 1920’s but did manage to lift the FA Cup in 1923/24 with a 2-0 win against Aston Villa in the final.
Although it was largely a mid-table side at the time, Newcastle Utd managed to take the First Division title for the 4th time at the end of the 1925/26 season. However, the club failed to build upon this success and had suddenly tumbled close to relegation-zone by the end of the decade.
While it narrowly avoided the drop in the previous two seasons, Newcastle went on to pick up the FA Cup in 1932/33 with a 2-1 win against Arsenal in the final. It ended the 1933/34 season in 5th place yet would finish the following 1934/35 campaign in 21st position to get relegated from the First Division.
Newcastle returned to the Second Division after 35 years and ended the 1935/36 season in 6th position. After failing to gain promotion in the next two seasons the Magpies only escaped relegation to the 3rd tier due to a better goal-average after finishing 1938/39 down in 19th place.
The Post War Era
World War II would halt the Football League for 7 years before it resumed once more in 1946/47 with Newcastle United finishing the season in 5th spot of the Second Division. In the subsequent 1947/48 campaign, it ended as runners in the league to earn its promotion back to the top-flight.
The Magpies made a promising return to the First Division in 1948/99 to finish the season in 4th position. It stayed in the top-5 of the league-table in the next two seasons and would go on to lift the FA Cup for the 4th time in 1950/51 by defeating Blackpool 2-0 in the final.
Newcastle fell to 8th position in the First Division table in 1951/52 but managed to retain its FA Cup title by defeating Arsenal in the final with a 2-0 score-line. In 1954/55, the Magpies would go on to win the FA Cup with a 3-1 victory over Manchester City in the final which remains its last domestic trophy.
By the time the 1960’s arrived, Newcastle had already made a couple of brushes with relegation in the past couple of years. Therefore it was probably not a huge surprise when the Magpies ended the 1960/61 campaign in 21st position to drop down from the top-tier of English football for the 2nd time.
In 1961/62, Newcastle Utd was back in the Second Division and ended the campaign in a disappointing 11th place. But the club would go on to make steady improvements over the next few seasons before sealing promotion to the top-flight by taking the division-title in 1964/65.
Upon its return to the First Division in 1965/66, Newcastle managed to survive in the top-tier with a 15th place finish. It would have to endure a much tougher battle against the drop in 1966/67 when it fell to 20th position. Nevertheless, it was able to establish itself in the mid-table in the opening-half of the 1970’s.
The Magpies entered the FA Cup final after nearly two decades in 1973/74 but only received a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool. Newcastle delivered its best league-finish in over a quarter of a century by claiming 5th spot at the end of 1976/77. Yet in the following 1977/78 season, it was relegated after ending up in 21st position.
Newcastle United could only take 8th position when it returned to the Second Division in 1978/79. The club would occupy a mid-table spot in the division for the next 5 years without making any serious bids for promotion. In the end, it was able to take 3rd spot in 1983/84 to move up from the 2nd tier.
After taking 14th position on its comeback to the First Division in 1984/85, Newcastle hung in the top-flight for a couple more years and finished in 8th spot at the end of 1987/88. But in the following 1988/89 season, it ended down in 20th spot and was relegated from the top-tier yet again.
The Contemporary Period
Newcastle United was moved into the First Division of the Football League for the 1992/93 campaign. The club picked up the division title in 1993/94 to secure its promotion to the Premier League for its 2nd season since emerging as the new top-flight of the English league-system.
The Premier League Era
With Kevin Keegan as its manager, Newcastle United made a splashing debut in the Premier League to finish the 1993/94 campaign in 3rd spot. The 1994/95 campaign proved to be a bit more challenging yet it was able to secure a 6th place finish to remain in the top-end of the division.
In 1995/96, Newcastle got off to a roaring start and earned an 11-point lead at the top of the Premier League heading into Christmas. But with the long-awaited top-flight league-title in sight, the Magpies suffered a massive meltdown towards the latter-stages and eventually handed the trophy to Man Utd.
Newcastle finished as runners-up again in 1996/97 although it was not quite in the title hunt. The Magpies ended down in 13th position at the end of 1997/98. It reached the FA Cup final after more than 20 years but was comfortably beaten 2-0 by Arsenal. It went to the FA Cup final again in 1998/99 but lost to Man Utd by the same score-line.
Bobby Robson was brought in as the manager in the early stages of the 1999/2000 season which Newcastle ended in 11th spot. After enduring another mediocre campaign, Newcastle moved up to 4th place at the end of 2001/02. The Magpies enjoyed another solid campaign in 2002/03 after finishing in 3rd position.
In 2003/04, Newcastle managed to reach the semi-final of the UEFA Cup before losing to Olympique Marseille but dropped out of the top-4 of the Premier League with a 5th place finish. Robson was sacked after a poor start to the 2004/05 campaign and his successor Graeme Souness could only take the team to 14th spot.
Souness was also dismissed midway through the 2005/06 campaign but Newcastle revived under Glenn Roeder to finish in 7th position. The Magpies picked up the UEFA Intertoto Cup at the start of 2006/07 but dropped down to 14th spot in the Premier League at the end of the season.
Sam Allardyce arrived as the manager for 2007/08 but lasted less than 6 months of the season. Kevin Keegan was brought in for his 2nd spell at the club which Newcastle ended in 12th spot. Keegan resigned from his job in the opening weeks of 2008/09 and the club had to change managers twice before getting relegated on the final day.
Newcastle started 2009/10 in the Football League Championship with Chris Hughton being promoted from the youth set-up as the full-time manager. The Magpies produced a superb campaign to seal the 2nd tier league-title and earn promotion back to the top-flight as soon as possible.
Upon returning to the Premier League in 2010/11, Newcastle did not make a good start and Alan Pardew was brought in as the manager with the team finishing in 12th position. So the Magpies caused a massive surprise when it competed in the race for a top-4 spot in 2011/12 which ultimately ended with the team in 5th place.
But 2012/13 turned out to be a huge disappointment with Newcastle only managing 16th spot in the Premier League table. The Magpies did however reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League, its last participation in Europe till date, where it was beaten by Portuguese side Benfica.
2013/14 was a relatively better campaign for the Magpies with the team taking 10th spot in the league-table. Alan Pardew left the Magpies to join Crystal Palace in the middle of the 2014/15 campaign and John Carver was appointed his replacement with the club finishing in 15th position.
At the start of the 2015/16 season, Steve McLaren came in as the new manager. But Newcastle never really found the groove under McLaren and he was sacked with the club lying in the drop-zone. Rafael Benitez arrived with a handful of games left but was unable to save the club from relegation despite making a big improvement.
Newcastle Utd was back in the Football League Championship for 2016/17 with Benitez staying at the helm. After a slow start to the campaign, the team gathered form to clinch the division-title by a single point over Brighton & Hove Albion and earn an immediate promotion back to the top-flight.
After making its return to the Premier League in 2017/18, Newcastle finished the season in 10th position. The Magpies stayed clear of the relegation-fight in 2018/19 as well despite dropping down to 13th place after which Rafael Benitez called time on his tenure at the club.
Steve Bruce took charge as the manager of Newcastle for the start of 2019/20 and took the club to another 13th place finish. In 2020/21, the team ended in 12th spot but the fans were passionately remonstrating against both the owner Mike Ashley for the lack of investment and manager Steve Bruce for the negative style of play.
Newcastle Utd was purchased by the Saudi-backed consortium in the opening months of the 2021/22 campaign with the team lying in the relegation-zone. Steve Bruce was soon dismissed and Eddie Howe was brought in as the full-time replacement who managed to guide the club away from the drop and up to an 11th place finish.
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