Former Newcastle United star Keith Gillespie believes fans will be braced for the possibility of the club’s star players leaving this summer if they do suffer relegation, telling Football FanCast it is “virtually impossible” to keep them in that situation.
The Magpies were in trouble just a few weeks ago, but after taking seven points from a possible nine they are now in a more comfortable situation.
Still, Steve Bruce’s side face difficult run-in on paper that sees them Liverpool, Arsenal, Leicester City and Manchester City, which means there is no room for complacency. They end their season with games versus rock-bottom Sheffield United and, perhaps pivotally, Fulham.
Dropping through the trap door might encourage a firesale of assets this summer, with owner Mike Ashley looking to balance the books.
And Gillespie believes that supporters will expect that if the club do go down, with the big clubs swooping in to snaffle away a few bargains.
Newcastle were last relegated in the 2015/16 season and they subsequently saw Georginio Wijnaldum move to Liverpool, Moussa Sissoko to Tottenham Hotspur, and Andros Townsend to Crystal Palace, while Remy Cabella, Daryl Janmaat, Papiss Cisse, and Cheick Tiote also departed.
Speaking exclusively to FFC, Gillespie, who played for the club between 1995 and 1998, said: “I think fans are realistic that when a club does go down they’ve got to think, ‘well we’re going to lose our best players because all the clubs are going to want them.’
“When clubs do go down, it’s so difficult to hang on to your best players, it’s virtually impossible to hang on to them.
“You’ve got bids coming in, you’ve got to think about the money you’re losing from not being in the Premier League.
“They want to balance the books and if big offers come in for your players, you have to look at it and inevitably it does happen where the players do leave. As I say, fans are realistic, your best players are not going to be there if you’re not in the top division, that’s quite obvious.”