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By ESPN Staff

Llambias: Villa path will lead to Toon success

Managing director Derek Llambias insists Newcastle United will go from strength to strength under controversial owner Mike Ashley by following the example set by Aston Villa.

Magpies fans were overjoyed when the billionaire purchased the club in 2007, expecting their trophyless run going back to 1969 to come to an end.

But Ashley's reign has been arguably the most turbulent time in the club's history, with behind-the-scenes troubles leading to the departure of fans' favourite Kevin Keegan last September.

Keegan left St James' Park for a second time - he also resigned in 1997 - in dispute with the owner over his role and the appointment of Dennis Wise as director of football.

Ashley then put the club up for sale - he pulled it off the market in December - after tiring of the abuse dished out by fans who were dismayed by the former England manager's exit.

However, despite a less than auspicious start to Ashley's reign, Llambias insists there will be a resurgence.

"As far as we're concerned, we see Newcastle United as having an exciting future. We hope to be like an Aston Villa," he said.

"It's not a question of anything else. Why would you buy a business and then just run it into the ground?

"Our intention is to go back on the track we were on before with our business plan. But you need to have solid grounding under your feet.

"So we're now trying to put the stability back into the club as far as that is concerned."

It is a bold claim considering Newcastle's current position - they are 13th in the Premier League, four points above the relegation zone, with Joe Kinnear the manager on an interim basis until the end of the season.

However, the financial failures of the previous regime have haunted Ashley's regime so far, according to Llambias.

"We inherited so much," he added. "It's like buying a car on HP (hire purchase) but then it gets written off, but you still have to pay it.

"That's how the business was being run, they ran it on a credit. We're knocking down walls and rebuilding.

"We are trying to get away from dating so that we don't have huge amounts of money going out. We are trying to pay up front."

Numerous players are out of contract in the summer, which Llambias believes will free up the wage bill and allow Newcastle to find players more suited to St James' Park.

Despite a more sensible approach to financing transfers, Ashley will also allow the manager - whether Kinnear is appointed on a permanent basis or a new face comes in - to spend.

"There is £8million there and it will be spent in the summer," said Llambias. "Mike isn't afraid to spend money out of his own pocket."

"Last year we lost £34million, this year we'll lose £20million and next year it will be around £7million.

"But it still doesn't mean that Mike won't invest when he has to invest.

"We aren't a selling club, we're a buying club. We are out there in the market."


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