Trumpeting into Newcastle United with a rapturous fanfare came Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct, an English entrepreneur who was going to save our club from the impending financial meltdown caused by the previous regime.

“Newcastle attracted me because everyone in England knows that it has the best fans in football… don’t get me wrong. I did not buy Newcastle to make money. I bought Newcastle because I love football.”

sir john hallEverything seemed too good to be true, a British billionaire owner, out to enjoy football, seemingly to revive the sleeping giant that has consistently had one of the highest average attendances in world football in recent times.

From, September 2011:

However, previous Newcastle United owner, Sir John Hall, gave a different, and far more convincing reason in a recent interview (August 2011) with Newcastle United website “Toon Talk“. Hall spoke of the negotiations which led to Ashley’s takeover of the club saying:

“I was told that the man behind the deal was Mike Ashley and I sat with his representatives over 3 days thrashing out a deal. I was keen to know why they wanted the club and they were quite honest. They wanted to market their sports goods in the Far East and would use the club to help do this.”

In June 2007 when Ashley gained full control of the club, debt was assumed to stand at £71m. A large sum, but not an insurmountable pile of toxic club-threatening debt. Upon gaining control, a clause in the mortgage stipulated that if the club was ever to be sold, the mortgage would have to be immediately paid in full. This would cost the new owner £53m. So what did Ashley do? He ‘invested’ £111m as an ‘interest free loan’.

A statement from Newcastle United in May 2010:

“In relation to recent media speculation following the statement made by the Club on May 9, Newcastle United would like to make it clear that owner Mike Ashley is not looking for his interest free loan to be repaid, or to take any money out of the Club.”

Interesting, yet in a question and answer session with club officials in the 2013/2014 season, the club had this to say:

“The club suggested that while it is always pro-actively looking to attract new commercial partners and to sell that advertising space, in the current climate it could not command a sum for that space anywhere close to the £129m invested into the club interest free by the owner.”

This is a direct contradiction as Ashley is profiting directly from his loan to Newcastle in the form of revenue gained by the ‘free’ advertising in the ground for Sports Direct.

What is interesting to note, is how we keep hearing from Alan Pardew how we are not able to financially compete with clubs around us, even Cardiff:

“They spent a lot of money Cardiff, they’ve got some good players and Zaha on loan from United is a threat, but we did the job.”

Or Southampton:

“You look at a club like Southampton, and they’re in a much stronger financial position than us in terms of purchasing players.”

Why is this the case? A look at the numbers will provide a sobering conclusion. Below is the revenue table for the top 14 clubs in the world as they stood in season 2006/2007, just before Mike Ashley took full control over Newcastle United.

sir john hallSo of the 14 clubs, which one has gained the least revenue in the following 6 seasons? Newcastle United. Whose fault is this? The owner. Squeezing Commercial Revenue by not taking paid advertising in the ground, then doing the same with Matchday Revenue by reducing ticket prices in a bid to placate fans by giving with one hand and taking with the other. It’s like saying ‘we could compete if we didn’t have to reduce the ticket prices so much just to keep the fans happy’ – it’s absurd.

The owner is directly responsible for the commercial fortunes of a club and the buck stops with Mike Ashley. So, after 7 years of ownership, what’s happened to the £71m debt we had before he arrived? Well, it’s not only still there, it’s increased now to £129m. This is despite astronomical increases in television prize money, an overhaul in player wages, and 7 years of Mike Ashley’s commercial expertise to work its magic on the club’s finances.

Perhaps we’ve been blessed with a billionaire owner who cares not for mere millions of pounds in fees for players and has lavished the club with star names in a bid to compete once more with the Premier League elite.

sir john hallBut that hasn’t happened either. With the debt still standing at £129m, £45m taken out of the club in net player transfer spend, the TV Prize money of each season disappearing into thin air and Sports Direct having risen in value from £1.60 per share (July 2007) to £7.89 per share (May 2014), it’s safe to say that Newcastle is run by somebody having a laugh at our expense.

Trev Davey
Trev Davey 5pts

Buying only 4 young untested foreign kids at this level, was never going to be enough to paper over the massive lack of quality in this squad. All Ashley has done is penny pinched again, when his and the club coffers are overflowing with cash. when I saw the line up, as last season, I just thought, GOUFFRAN = DEFEAT. What with us and the rugby its been another sporting day to hang yourself by !!

NatTurner 5pts

No win Steve, you fool. I thought we had half a chance at another point until I saw you selected Anita and Gouffran as your defensive midfield. Then I was just depressed, and even our goal didn't cheer me up at all. Complete moron with a clipboard. How long will you be allowed to be winless Steve and not get the sack? Eight is noteworthy. Ten would be ridiculous.

desree 5pts

Great first Half like the chelsa game and every other this team crumbles under pressure. I can't see anything other than relegation.

Mark Jones
Mark Jones 5pts

Oh my God! You must be joking. Encouraging?

Mark Robson
Mark Robson 5pts

"Encouraging"!!?? Are you winding me up.

GToon 5pts

The problem is that we are the record breakers. Any player who hasn't scored for ages, has never scored, team hasn't won away, team hasn't come from behind to win, team that needs to extend a record. Well they just need to play us. The record breakers. The team that makes every opponents wish come true. Not sure if Mcclaren will get the sack. Ashley isn't even very good at that either as the previous two clowns should have gone before they did. Will he wait until the next transfer window when not even I would sign for them? Still apparently the first 8 games have been tough. Was he expecting other teams or something. We play them all twice, home and away. No problem. The order doesn't matter. The effort and attitude of our players does though and it's a million miles away from being acceptable at the moment. See Chelsea are busy losing at the moment but they managed to nearly win against us last week. I think Carr Ashley and co need to have a few serious conversations about the impending relegation. Maybe they need to speak to that Steve Black bloke.

magpie9 5pts

1st week of oct. All we have to look fwd to is a relegation battle. With this defence it will be a battle of enourmus proportion

Jezza_NUFC 5pts

@magpie9  I can guarantee we won't be involved in a relegation battle. This shower are going down without battling.

Timptoon 5pts

@magpie9 I think it is safe to say that with Charnley, Carr, McLaren, Ashley and a pi55 poor squad we won't be involved in a relegation battle. We will simply be relegated - no battle. The utter ineptitude is startling.

Dogg1892 5pts

McClaren, Penfold and old man Carr, are merely symptoms of the problems at NUFC. The principle cause of the issues at our club is Mike Ashley. He may be a sucessful budget sports shop owner. However the model he has set up to run our club, is purely short term profit based and as such isn't fit for purpose.

Until he sells up the problems will remain, irrespective of whether McClaren is sacked.

grantham mag
grantham mag 5pts

@Dogg1892 So true it will never get better, McLaren will end up as the scapegoat, I actually feel sorry for him as he is in a no win situation.