By Kieran Maguire

13th Aug, 2021 | 11:07am

Kieran Maguire reveals how Newcastle document is 'hiding' key issues as Covid used as 'smokescreen'

The Newcastle United hierarchy have used Covid as a “smokescreen” to soften the blow of the club’s recent financial results.

So says finance guru Kieran Maguire, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after the Magpies posted an annual operating loss of £54million.

Documents filed with Companies House on 6 August show that matchday income fell from £24.8m for 2018-19 to £17.4m in 2019-20.

Newcastle were forced to play their final five home matches behind closed doors as a result of the pandemic.

But their average home league attendance, excluding those final five matches, was down by over 3,000 on the previous annum.

And Maguire suggests that Covid is being used to mask the deeper-seated problem of a fanbase disillusioned with the Mike Ashley regime.

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He told Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams: “The losses are in line with expectations, if truth be told.

“But to a certain extent, it is hiding one or two issues. Matchday income was down more than most for 2019-20.

“The decrease in matchday income was 28.9 per cent, which was higher than any other club in the Premier League, with the exception of Bournemouth.

“That’s with Covid factored in. But Covid is a bit of a smokescreen in that a substantial portion of the Newcastle fanbase has turned on Mike Ashley’s version of the club.

Turnover fell from £176.4m to £152.6m over the course of the accounting period.

The club claims it would have made a pre-tax profit of £1.1m had it not been for the impact of the pandemic.

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