Mike Ashley continues to feel the squeeze and the man who at one time could seemingly do no wrong (when it came to making money), is now seeing his personal fortune fall even further.
Seemingly stabilising the Sports Direct share price in late January after a disastrous 40% was knocked off the value in only five weeks and he personally saw his fortune decrease by over £1billion, Mike Ashley has now seen another drop of over 10% this month.
The Sports Direct/Ashley PR offensive has seemingly been shortlived in terms of its success, with investors turning their backs on a business empire that has become the example commonly used to sum up how not to treat staff and customers.
Campaign groups and politicians have kept up the pressure and it is looking less and less likely that there is going to be any short-term bounce back, if indeed any at all.
Sports Direct was at its height, in terms of value, back on 4 April 2014, the share price at 922p and Mike Ashley’s personal shareholding in the company valued at over £3billion.
Things weren’t quite so bubbly for Newcastle fans at the time as real pressure was once again being put against his running of the club, after a promising first half of the season saw United near the top, only for Yohan Cabaye to be sold for close to £20m and no investment in the team/squad.
A disastrous second half of the season included Alan Pardew running up six defeats in a row over the course of March/April 2014, with the peaking of the Sports Direct share price sandwiched in between a 4-0 defeat at Southampton and a 4-0 home loss to Manchester United only 24 hours after the top valuation for Ashley’s company. The only victory in the final two months of that season being a 3-0 win over Cardiff that featured the 69 minute walkout protest by Newcastle supporters against Ashley’s running of the football club.
Moving forward to 12 February 2016 (today), the share in Sports Direct are trading at around 375p, making Mike Ashley’s 330m shares currently worth £1.2billion – a drop of £1.8billion since that high of under two years ago.
As Newcastle fans, you do have to wonder at the impact the changing fortunes of Mike Ashley’s business empire will have on the football club.
The recent transfer spending in the last few windows is simply money generated by Newcastle United that wasn’t spent in previous windows, plus potentially some of the budget from the upcoming summer window spent in advance in a desperate attempt to avoid relegation, as happened in January 2013 (not a single player bought in the next two transfer windows).
The big questions are exactly how Newcastle United fits in with supporting the marketing of the rest of Mike Ashley’s business empire moving forward, plus what the reaction of the owner would be if relegation did become a reality.
Newcastle United issued a statement some time ago confirming that Mike Ashley would not sell the club at least until the end of this season, whilst that was later followed by his surprise public TV appearance when he claimed that he would not sell until Newcastle won something or qualified for the Champions League.
The prospect of potentially winning the Championship next season would presumably not qualify as ‘winning something’ so would relegation make the club’s owner think it’s no longer worth retaining ownership (a fire sale of players and take whatever cash somebody is prepared to put on the table for the club)?
Mike Ashley has shown in the past that he doesn’t care what (almost) anybody says about him and would he rarely care if fans, journalists and pundits reminded him of the ‘winning something’ commitment?
Rarely seen at recent Newcastle matches, Mike Ashley may have plenty on his plate elsewhere at the minute, and the way things are going overall in his business empire the billionaire may very soon cast the club adrift altogether – with or without a trophy.
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