Newcastle took 'financial gamble' with highest-ever EFL wage bill in 2016-17 season

Average attendance at St James' increased to 51,108 during the 2016-17 season

Newcastle admit they took a "financial gamble" to win promotion back to the Premier League, with their wage bill in the 2016-17 season the highest in Football League history.

New figures show they paid wages of £112.2m, almost double the Championship's other promoted clubs, Brighton and Huddersfield, combined.

The club lost £90.9m that year.

The Magpies said the approach was "only possible" because of the "financial support" of owner Mike Ashley.

Under manager Rafael Benitez, Newcastle won the Championship in 2017 to gain promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt, and finished 10th on their return to the top flight this season.

High profile players such as Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum and Florian Thauvin left after the club's relegation in 2016 but over £50m was spent on 12 players the following season in the Championship.

"An immediate return to the Premier League was vital to restore the financial stability and future prospects of the club," managing director Lee Charnley said.

"With the support and backing of the owner we took what was, in essence, a financial gamble on securing immediate promotion."

The £112.2m figure of wages and salaries includes "promotion bonuses and onerous contract provisions" but was £37.5m higher than in the previous season in the Premier League.

The overall operating loss of £90.9m compares to a profit of £0.9m the previous season in the Premier League.

The loss after tax stands at £41.3m.

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