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 nufcblog.org, 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.

16 comments
CMRowley
CMRowley

I don't see any problem with this? It would be stupid not to. The only downside I see is if the lad signs it.

TonnekToon
TonnekToon

Looks like he may be getting the chance to break his brother's longevity record , it must be something to do with the name Ameobi

toon tony
toon tony

Great news. !!!! It'll be more money in the FCB ' s war chest when he goes on his spending spree. !!!

Roberts Grey Pants
Roberts Grey Pants

You make it sound like wanting to get money for him rather than nothing is a bad thing?? What makes that even funnier is the people criticising this are the ones who probably want to see Sammy out of the door anyway.


I actually think he gets a lot of unfair stick and whilst I won't lose much sleep if he goes I think he is certainly worth having as a squad player.


He is contributed more to the club this season than the likes of Cabella for starters.

wor monga
wor monga

So what if money is the reason…they offer him a contract, and it’s up to him if he wants to stay or go…why give him away for nowt?… 


...when he’s already shown he has some good football ability, and is young enough to improve somewhere.

nufcslf
nufcslf

@wor monga You seem to like watching overpaid Cashley arse licking headless chickens. Good for you!!!

Kevin Halliday
Kevin Halliday

Surely he will cost more in wages than we will recoup because we won't play him enough to put him in the shop window.

TimBoddy
TimBoddy

I don't think there is anything massively controversial about giving a relatively young player a couple of extra years, nor do I think it's overly cynical to do that just to ensure that the club gets some form of return from a player they have spent money developing. Just reasonable business sense to me.  If he comes good in his first few games next season, great. If not, sell him on for as close to break even as possible.

JLawls91
JLawls91

Does that principle not go out the window if he signs for a club abroad though?

toonterrier
toonterrier

If he is being offered a deal no matter how poor it is he will snap it up as I cant see any other half decent club will want to take him on. Don't they watch him on the pitch running for ten yards then stopping for a rest. He's not a kid but a twenty three year old who should have proven his worth by now. What will the club say next, He's a late developer and should come good over the next few years. Worse player than Obertan and as much use as his brother. If we keep him it will show us how much ambition the club has. Get shot of him and the other dozen players who aren't up to the job.

Porciestreet
Porciestreet

@toonterrier He will always be needing a breather because he is asthmatic and can only work in short bursts anyway. It's a great shame. He went to school with my Godson and was always a standout player but alas, was never going to go much further than he has . A pity also because he has enormous talent but circustances won't allow him to release it.

toonterrier
toonterrier

@Porciestreet @toonterrier I know he has medical problems but unfortunately it doesn't mean we have to take it into account when he's playing premiership football.

I also realise he comes from a decent family but again we need players to work their socks off for ninety plus minutes and the lad isn't up to it.