Interesting revelation on Thursday night, with news that Mike Ashley has drafted in somebody at Newcastle United who Lee Charnley has to answer to.
As reported by the Telegraph, Ashley has brought Justin Barnes into St James Park and they say that now Lee Charnley has to run any financial decisions past him.
One of the major reasons for this move is said to be that Mike Ashley has given Barnes the task of trying to persuade potential investors to buy a stake in the club.
The Telegraph say that Ashley believes it unlikely anyone will meet his £400m valuation of the club and so the next best thing would be if Justin Barnes can do deals with people who are willing to buy a part of the football club.
Barnes is a trademark lawyer and was originally in charge of Sports Direct’s brands, which included Dunlop and Slazenger, when the retailer floated in 2007 and was one of five directors who shared a £25m bonus back then.
He stopped being an employee of Sports Direct and other companies linked to them in 2008 – but has continued to work for Mike Ashley (in a kind of Number 10 role…). The Telegraph claim that Justin Barnes isn’t being directly employed by Newcastle United, simply working for Ashley.
Seemingly used by Ashley to try and close/arrange various major business deals, Barnes was reported to have led Ashley’s team that worked on a proposed bid for BHS last year – though Ashley did not bid for BHS in the end.
Justin Barnes was also involved with Sports Direct’s decision to put USC into administration and to then buy the chain back back minus its debts after stripping its assets.
He has also represented Ashley in his dispute with Rangers FC and in June 2016 became a director of Rangers Retail Ltd when Ashley and other Sports Direct representatives resigned from that company.
As usual, with Newcastle United you always feel that the club is only seen by Mike Ashley as a small cog in the overall workings of his empire – best seen maybe by the year on year massive free promotion job NUFC does for Ashley’s retail empire, with no revenue going into the football club.
What the end result of Mike Ashley bringing in Justin Barnes to St James Park will be, remains to be seen.
With only Christian Atsu’s loan deal made into a permanent one so far, there will be some Newcastle fans wondering whether this move will impact on the transfer window. Despite being linked with over a hundred players and a number of seemingly credible ongoing transfer targets amongst those, no other signings have been made so far and two weeks on Monday pre-season training begins.