There have been occasions in the decade of dead hand ownership by Mike Ashley (10 years! Lord help us..) when we’ve just about managed to push to the back of our minds the nonsense of his rule.
Keegan’s end of season run in 2008, the Championship year, coming 5th (5th!!!!) in the Premier League in 2012, the Europa Cup run the year after…and now this season.
However, they’ve only been glimpses of light through the murk that we’re all far too aware of…
Sacking The Messiah, Llambias, Wise and Kinnear (twice…), losing court cases, trying to rename the ground, putting in hardly any player investment after coming 5th and, of course, the fabled ‘new model’ of football ownership that led to two relegations in seven years.
However, through more luck than judgement – and probable panic this time last year when relegation coincided with the press aggro and Parliament Select Committee meeting regarding his feudal ownership of Sports Direct- Ashley has ended up with the best manager he’s ever going to have and an open door into the riches of the Premier League. I don’t think there are many of us who would be that lucky in life.
The big question now is, what happens next?
Through the various insulting press releases and just two tv interviews over the years, Ashley has always promised ‘jam tomorrow’. His ‘new model’ of ownership, to put the club on a more sound financial footing, was meant to be short-term pain for long-term gain.
There may have been some sense in that but surely not to the extent he took it. The lack of investment over 4-5 years after coming 5th (remember just getting Loic Remy on loan the summer after reaching the quarters in Europe?) was meant to tighten the club so it could be competitive in the future.
Well, the future has arrived. If not now Mr.Ashley, when? If not now, what has been the point? If you don’t invest all these savings we were meant to have made from your ‘buy young and sell on’ policy and from the apparently huge Sky and international tv money on offer, then you’ve been what we all think. An owner with no interest in the club and one that simply has used the club as a cash cow for his businesses.
Rafa knows we need £70-100 million investment. If Ashley won’t allow that, he’ll walk. And quite right too. And so will lots of us.
I’ll still look out for the score but it won’t play a big part in my life anymore and I won’t go anymore. That’ll be a shame, as my 15 year old son has loved going to the games since he was 8. He’ll still be fanatical and so he should be. The young shouldn’t be a cynical as the old.
I will have had enough until we get another owner. A lot of people have already done that so there might not be many fans left.
I’m sure most of us are only 50-50 about Ashley backing Rafa. Lots of the pundits have also been pretty outspoken of the fact that they’re not convinced Ashley will back Rafa. I’m personally more 30-70.
So the question remains Mike Ashley – if not now, when? And if not now, get out.
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