Mike Ashley is saying nowt, but in so doing, is being rather eloquent.

Instead of letting it be known that he had told the Chinese consortium reputed to be interested in buying Newcastle United to buy a box for five years to show sincerity, he has just said nowt.

Of course he has told us several times that he might be putting the club on the market, if not before the end of the 2015/6 season. It wouldn’t be surprising if Ashley has decided now is the time.

Last close season would not have been a good time – he would have had to sell at a knock-down price when we were heading into the Championship.

And he went the extra mile to keep Rafa on board at a time when a lot of people had told us he would be off.

He gave Rafa assurances that have never been made public but, given that Rafa spoke to Alan Shearer about the kind of boss Ashley was, would have had to be written in blood.

Rafa committed to Newcastle in a way that Ashley never has. That is why we took Rafa to our hearts, and that is why, even after Ashley apparently changed his approach to football club stewardship, three-quarters of us still want him to sell up.

The assurances that Ashley gave Rafa at the end of the relegation season included, we have been led to believe, guarantees about the choice of football personnel, both buying and selling, but also investment in the event promotion back to the Premier League was achieved.

It would be completely typical if Ashley, having had some kind of contact with the Chinese, can see the chance of maximising his return while minimising his investment once again.

Every asset has to sweat for Ashley.

He trashed our stadium with slogans advertising his core business but paid nothing for it.

Bought young players who might have a sell-on value rather than the players we needed,

Wongified our image.

Offended and then humiliated the press we depend upon.

Exiled critical journalists.

Employed dreadful failures as managers.

Gave dud players massive contracts who had been recommended by a scout of inconsistent judgement who had been given an eight-year contract himself.

Transferred from the club’s ownership to his own personal control, possibly useful land around the Strawberry, and dumped a hundred million of debt on the club for tax reasons.

So now, when he is coming up to a summer of major expenditure, that he knows is a summer of major expenditure, that he knows is a summer of major expenditure that is of crucial importance to our manager, Ashley has pondered the nature of this new investment.

And he doesn’t like the look of it.

There is absolutely nothing in his record that would suggest he would like to stay and invest and wait excitedly for the new season, like someone interested in football, having trusted in the judgement of his world-class manager.

His world-class manager has done his job – he has got us back up into the Premier League. Now is the time to cash in, if you’re Mike Ashley.

It’s not just the money he would need to spend to compete, in order to satisfy Rafa that we have a genuine chance of finishing in the top half in our first season back. That on its own, we already know, would require the replacement of seven or eight players. And, quite frankly, I would trust and expect Ashley to fulfil this aspect of his understanding with Rafa.

It’s the further, very expensive, players we would have to buy in subsequent seasons so we can build a team with a chance of competing in the Champions League. Because I bet Rafa has got that factored in.

If you think about it, it is entirely typical that Ashley would prey upon Rafa’s belief and affection and trust and love, lead him down the garden path with the prospect of a truly historic shift in gear at Newcastle, and then let him down.

I can say that without hesitation, because it is what he has done to Toon fans for ten years.

If the Chinese consortium is made of Scotch mist, if they never turn up, if they are insincere, Ashley might stay as owner for next season. If he does I have no doubt he will skimp on investment, and annoy Rafa and the fans.

These rumours, and his reaction to them, are eloquent about what his true intentions are at Newcastle. Because I have no doubt he will sell before he needs to invest heavily, and compete for truly top players of the kind that Manchester City want to buy. And he will not want to hang around long enough to risk relegation a third time. If he doesn’t sell now, he’ll be selling soon.

In a way, Ashley is not the same football club owner that he was ten years ago.

In a way he is better than he was.

He has learned and he has improved, slightly. To the extent that he knows he can’t run a football club like a shop, that he has to trust people he doesn’t really understand, I think he has really changed.

And I would even go as far as to claim that he is a better owner than a lot of people. He might even turn out to be better than a Chinese consortium.

The Chinese economy is built on debt and its financial institutions are a mystery. It is full of stuff that is valued in billions for no obvious reason. The whole of China could implode. Ashley might seem a decent memory if that were to happen.

But I have come to the conclusion that, with Mike Ashley, we will always be suspecting that we are being lied to and taken for a ride. Ashley will always be getting the better of us, one way or another. The club will never return our love while he is the owner. He is, in sum, a pain in the backside.

I shouldn’t think it would be a romantic experience if a Chinese consortium were the owner, either. But Rafa might be able to believe the assurances of a Chinese consortium.

He will know by now that he can’t believe a word Mike Ashley has ever said to him.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

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  • Wor Lass

    An interesting article, Wiz – you make some good points. I don`t mean to be picky, and I know this whole thing has been done to death, but “…dumped a hundred million of debt on the club for tax reasons.” I`m not any sort of financial expert and I`m willing to stand corrected but I thought that debt represented the mortgage on the ground which the club is rightly responsible for and Ashley, having paid it up, has it as an interest free loan on the books. Presumably, he`ll get it when he sells up as part of his price. If he`s dodged a bit of tax in the mean-time so what – we`ve dodged a bit of interest. I`m sure there are plenty of people more clued up on the finances who can say whether I`m right or not – could be an intro to one of those Leazes v Fleckman specials!

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Blobby Flekmans on the run. HMRC i think, so that leaves Leazes i`m sure if he has the time you`ll get the full monty off him

      • Geordiegiants

        Ha ha spoke to soon mmm

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      You are right, wor Lass.

      I don;’t know what worse about the article, the fact Wiz has sent an hour or so writing it or the fact I’ve spent 5 minutes reading it + another 30s writing this as a response.

  • rickyd

    Never have I read an article that talks nonsense on such a range of topics – from football to Chinese economics – you have excelled here Sir! Shout out to the editor as well for a strapline which completely misrepresents the piece. I wonder what the agenda is of this site sometimes. 99% of toon fans I know are excited about the future and happy about the direction the club is going now (even the biggest cynics). I sometimes wonder if this site is run by mackem trolls…

    Anyway, I look forward to reading the article slagging off Dummett, Lascelles or another one of our first team players, later today!

    • Geordiegiants

      This site is about opinions, everyone is entitled to theirs. I would guess you are quite young and full of optimism for the future. We need the hope and passion from the youth, but we also need older fans that are a bit more cautious and not as naive.

    • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

      While I don’t agree with everything here… I fail to see where the ‘nonesense’ is. This site is just full of peoples opinions, is it not?

    • Damon Horner

      Agreed.

      Personally if you don’t enjoy supporting a club and can’t feel the excitement of it I really don’t know why people bother. This article is nothing different to what most fans say periodically with an amusing analysis of the Chinese economy attached!

      Agree about the players as well, Dummett should be be a lad who inspires some of the young lads in the region that persistence can get reward but people focus on how unlike Roberto Carlos he is. We have a good group at the moment, bit different when the players motivation is his own career or money but I don’t feel that with most of these so they should get some unconditional backing regardless of ability.

      • Pelican

        “if you don’t enjoy supporting a club and can’t feel the excitement of it I really don’t know why people bother.”

        Loyalty.

        You can support a club, it does not mean you have to support its owner or anybody else associated with dragging the club down.

        • Damon Horner

          Not to confuse that point of mine with the point in the article. I fully agree not having to support the owner. It’s when things like that affect the general support of an individual towards the club, that’s when people shouldn’t bother.
          I back the team in spite of Ashley and his ownership doesn’t influence my level of support.

          • nufcslf

            All the time feeding his greed. If you look at wins vs losses, home form over the last 7 or 8 seasons. There hasn’t been a lot to jump and down about. Pathetic managers and too many sheep to count in the ground to go along with it. Last season did seem to be more about the football for a change, but I still think a Cashley free toon is important before he does chase Rafa in time.

          • Damon Horner

            To repeat. I’m not sticking up for Ashley. We can’t make him sell though so just have to make the best of a bad situation and not criticise everything connected with the club.

            Say what you want about Ashley and his management. Just back the lads. Not hard, that’s what I mean, if you can never do that then why bother with football and Newcastle United. Screw Ashley, he isn’t the club.

          • nufcslf

            Fair enough. But this has to remain about the football from the owner down for the fans that have been around a lot longer than Cashley and Sports bloody Direct. Backing Rafa and following through on it is vital. Not for the rest of time, but a mid-table finish would be realistic for next season and should keep all in order to push on from there. Here’s hoping

  • Leazes Ender

    You reckon it might be a ploy by Ashley in order to renege on promises made to Rafa and string him on for a year…. if we hear nothing more about this consortium…. then its possible.

    Hopes raised then dashed.

  • Damon Horner

    So in other words, nobody trusts Mike Ashley? learn something new every day (!)

  • Stephen Paylor

    Getting the better of you maybe wiz. At the end of the day the facts tell me that Ashley has spent as much on transfers as would have been expected. No money has been taken from the club (contrary to common belief). Free advertising for SD? So what its factored in by paying no interest on the loan (all be it a mortgage or whatever). If Ashley gets away with not having pay some tax then so be it. we have a world class reputable manager. Have spent a lot of money on players in the last few years, won the championship last year and are back where we should be. Can people not just look forward to the season and get behind the club (yes Ashley included) we are in this together and Wiz its up to you if you want to boycott the ground, burn witches and make voodoo dolls of Ashley. Whatever makes you happy mate but for me and many others the glass is a lot more than half full.

    • Leazes Ender

      Money has been taken directly via the retail outlet on Strawberry place which masquerades as a club store but has a Shirebrook tax point and indirectly via free advertising given to his brands…. he also pays no tax on that free advertising….. over ten years at about £5 million per year is less than the amount extracted by the Halls and Shepherds.