The UEFA Rankings Table and NUFC.
Apples and pears, apples and pears.
It's a pretty brainless table I think really, having a table like that. It's a bit like having a table of the best fruit and then populating it with vegetables just to make up the numbers. You just know it is inevitable that a vegetable will never make anywhere near the top twenty because then it would not be a table of the best fruit and people would notice.
I will confidently predict that that table will, in ten years time, be missing several top clubs in their present guise if UEFA fair play rules really work, also the debt and credit crises in Europe continue to prove terminal for their continent.
I think what you probably need to do is factor in debt and salaries etc - the table would then look somewhat different. Many of those clubs are not viable businesses and that is what is wrong with football at the mo.
Week in week out, we see games between fruit and vegetables and although now and again, the vegetables will win, we just know that it is the fruit that will be up there near the top. Now and again, a vegetable will sneak in to the top table, but they then get labelled as a fruit because they are up there and as a result they struggle the following season because they are now a vegetable masquerading as a fruit and come what may.
That is what they will always be, despite some people telling you they are a fruit and others reminding us that they will never be able to compare with the fruit because we are a vegetable and they are a fruit.
The fans of the vegetables cotton on, and eventually so do the players, that try as they might, they will never be playing for the fruit unless you move to a fruit - you cannot turn a vegetable into a fruit in today's market unless you are prepared to use a lot of bread to hide the fact that the club is really a vegetable in disguise.
A bit convoluted - but what I am getting at is this. For me, I will watch any kid of sport as an impartial observer as long as it is a genuine contest, we see the twists and turns of competition.
That's why they keep bringing up the Liverpool-Newcastle 4-3's on Sky. The broadcast money has perverted football across Europe. It encourages clubs at the top to spend obscene amounts on players to stay there, because they need top European competition to survive.
Also it forces aspiring clubs to spend money they cannot afford in trying to get there, evidenced by the very many recent ex-Premier League clubs now in the lower reaches struggling financially.
I am sure Ashley, being a clever fella and looking at football purely in a monetary sense, has recognised this, sees the debt of the clubs at the top and has decided not to go there in one fell swoop, despite the disconnected ramblings of our manager about top 4. Pardew can say all he wants - and often does - but the club has said top 10, although I read somewhere that the club have budgeted for top 8 this season.
Fact is that the way this league works, that if you keep things ticking over for long enough in a sustainable fashion, even turn a nice handy profit, the clubs who aspire will fall short and fade away because they will struggle under the burden of trying to sustain it.
For example, I see Bolton's debt is around the £130m mark, proof that they were living on borrowed time for much of their latter existence in the Premier League. Others like Stoke, who have spent a lot of money for little return and seem to have spent the last year trying to offload those they had previously spent big money on will, i am sure, follow before too long.
The upshot is that we succeed - relatively speaking - by default as clubs fold under the financial burden resulting from the economics of football in Europe. Who knows, in time, we may see a table with Newcastle in the top 10. But it won't be a convoluted table like the one above - but a table of say, 'the best things that money cannot buy' - and all the better for it.