Documents deposited at Companies House, show that Mike Ashley has made a £33m loan facility available to Newcastle United.
This was done in advance of the January transfer window opening, with the documents signed on 21 December 2016 and arriving at Companies House on 23 December 2016.
The loan facility is made available by Mike Ashley to the football club via St James Holdings Limited, which is a company wholly owned by Mike Ashley, and which was specifically set up to acquire shares in Newcastle United and eventually own the club outright.
No comment has been made by Mike Ashley or Newcastle United about the £33m loan facility being set up but the timing of it only days before the transfer window opened, is sure to led many/most Newcastle fans to put two and two together.
The club owner does of course own partly or wholly a whole network of businesses, with various relationships and tie-ups between them.
Newcastle United has supplied free advertising/promotion to the rest of Ashley’s business empire free of charge for years, though last year Sports Direct announced that it was in talks with Newcastle United and that moving on a proper market price would be paid for this in the future. However, there has been no further comment/confirmation on this matter in the intervening months.
In the past, Mike Ashley did make loan facilities available to Sports Direct at advantageous rates to allow the company to operate more freely in buying stock etc on the best possible terms.
This loan facility made available to Newcastle United could of course be at least in part to do with normal running costs but NUFC supporters will certainly also see it at least in part of a signal that new players are set to arrive this month.
It would be a relative financial disaster for Mike Ashley if Newcastle did fail to win promotion at the first attempt with parachute payments (payable at the end of the season) now front-loaded for clubs that come down, the amounts decreasing after the first season.
Nobody stands to gain more than Ashley if the club bounce back and earlier today, Rafa Benitez confirmed that transfer targets had been approached but no deals struck yet.