Newcastle United owners expose ‘shameful’ Mike Ashley era in forgotten footage

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Newcastle United’s training facilities have undergone a drastic change since the Mike Ashley era.

The stark difference between the Mike Ashley and PIF-led ownership eras of Newcastle United has been put into perspective by an old video documenting the Benton training ground when Steve McClaren was head coach.

McClaren managed the club for most of the 2015/16 season before being sacked in the March and replaced by Rafael Benítez. By May, United were in 18th position and relegated to the Championship.

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A video making the rounds on social media exemplifies the club’s struggle at this time. Old NUFC TV footage shows the players recovering the day after a match in paddling pools and makeshift wheelie bin ice baths.

One fan commented on social media: ‘So shameful that an actual Prem club had a paddling pool and wheelie bins instead of an ice bath.’

Whilst another said: ‘From ice baths in wheelie bins and relegation to potential Champions League football. It’s almost beyond comprehension just how much the club has changed.’

The re-emergence of the footage comes just after major updates have been planned for the Benton training ground. In early April, NUFC submitted documents that revealed their plans for an extension to the main building. A new altitude climate room will be added alongside the already existing hydrotherapy pool, cryo chamber, hyperbaric chamber and PBM bed.

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The state of the art facilities are a vast change to the recovery players were undergoing just eight years ago.

Training ground updates submitted to North Tyneside CouncilTraining ground updates submitted to North Tyneside Council
Training ground updates submitted to North Tyneside Council | Newcastle United

Despite the changes, the current improvements are only a temporary solution. The new owners have always been clear about their plans to build a new one saying Darsley Park “fell significantly below the Premier League and perhaps even Championship standards.”

But for the time being, the modernisation of the old one is significantly improving the experiences for all the players.

In the Southampton games’ matchday programme, Martin Dubravka said: “I spent five years here and it was nice, but it needed to be rebuilt.

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“The canteen was completely transformed - you have so much space. You have so many people now here, who work here, even the physio room - it’s much bigger. So many physios are here now. I’m glad that this improved because it had to be done.

“You can tell in recent years they didn’t invest as much as they could probably and as much as the club deserved. We are in a position now where we can really achieve good things. The training ground looks great now. You feel much better here. You like to spend time here. You’re coming into a nice environment.”

Building aside, the additions of a footvolley and teqball courts has also delighted the players. With Bruno Guimaraes taking to social media to voice his delight: “If one day I was sad, I forgot it! Thanks for it @NUFC. Bora jogar futvolei [let’s play footvolley].”

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