Ex-Celtic transfer guru breaks silence on brief Newcastle United role after sharp exit

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Nick Hammond linked up with Newcastle United on a short-term basis in December to help fine-tune the club’s January transfer plans.

Nick Hammond has opened up on his brief time at Newcastle United as a football consultant.

The former Celtic head of operations was drafted in by the new owners of PCP Partners, PIF and RB Sports & Media in December on a short-term basis.

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Hammond’s job was to help evaluate and fine-tune the club’s extensive transfer plans ahead of the January window, which saw Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood, Bruno Guimaraes, Matt Targett and Dan Brun arrive.

Due to his deal-making expertise with the likes of Reading and Celtic, Hammond was asked to look over potential bids and player valuations to check they were realistic and correct.

His interim role lasted less than a month, with the Magpies now in the process of appointing a technical director - set to be Dan Ashworth from Brighton & Hove Albion - and a director of football.

In an interview with Training Ground Guru at their Scouting and Recruitment Webinar, Hammond explained how got involved on Tyneside and what the role entailed.

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Being approached for the short-term role

Hammond said: “Newcastle came (to me) a couple of weeks before the beginning of December.

“To me, it was a really interesting and quite an exciting opportunity to come and work with the new owners, of which there are three groups.

“Eddie Howe, who I knew from being in the game for a long time and Steve Nickson, an extremely good, experienced Head of Recruitment.

Hammond’s role at Newcastle explained - in his own words

“Newcastle have a long-term plan, for sure, but they had a short-term problem when we were going into the January window.

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“Quite clearly they wanted to appoint a new CEO, a new Sporting Director and build the club out from there, but in the short term they were approaching the January window and looking for someone who had a degree of experience navigating through the complexities of any transfer window, let alone a January window.

“My role was a little bit more in the background than I would be as a normal Sporting Director. As a Sporting Director over my career I would lead the discussions, lead the negotiations with potential signings.

“This role was sort of a step removed from that, doing the checks and balances in the background, having an opinion on the players who had already been identified by Steve Nickson and his team, having taken a good steer from Eddie Howe, the new head coach, who had to make very quick decisions in terms of where he saw his squad.

“My job, really, was to advise the owners in relation to the players, the due diligence around the players and the financial aspects of the deals they were trying to complete.

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‘Hardest transfer window you’ll probably ever have’

“I said to the guys at the start, this will be the hardest transfer window you’ll probably ever have, because you are literally a group of people coming together in a very short space of time and having to hit the ground running.

“Fortunately there’s a very experienced head coach there, a very clear thinking guy, very precise in terms of what he wants and what he wanted, which is critical for a head coach - that clarity that comes from them is massively important.

“Fortunately Eddie Howe gave that to the people dealing with the transfer window at Newcastle.”

‘A fascinating experience’

“It was a fascinating experience,” Hammond concluded. “I thoroughly enjoyed it, but very challenging time for them (the owners).

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“It was interesting in as much as here you’ve got a group of people who all want to achieve the same thing but they’re new, they’re almost thrown together.

“I don’t mean that in a haphazard way, but new group of owners; new Head Coach; Steve (Nickson), who’s been in the building for a long time, and all of a sudden in a very short space of time you’ve got to come together and make some decisions to try and strengthen the team for what is the short term ambition of staying in the Premier League.”

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