Mike Ashley might finally leave Newcastle United. That’s what everybody wanted to happen, right?

Well, based on public reaction to a potential Chinese takeover, it would appear that some fans have lost their minds and don’t actually want Mike Ashley to exit NUFC.

One of the reasons given for this is that we can’t trust the Chinese. Or we can’t trust foreigners. Look at Blackburn, Leeds, Charlton, Leyton Orient etc.

I mean, have you ever heard such garbage before? In football there are good owners and bad owners, it doesn’t matter what nationality they are.

Newcastle United have a bad owner. A very bad owner. In case some fans have forgotten about Mike ‘Safe’ Ashley, let us go on a magical history tour.

A well-respected professor of mine once described Mike Ashley as running a ‘culture of fear’ within the British labour market, he also told me that “corruption and fear are terms that obscure much and explain little” so let’s try and explain a little, shall we?

First stop, Kevin Keegan.

The first of two club legends that Mike Ashley would disrespect and treat like trash throughout his reign. KK did so much for NUFC, he dragged us out of the gutter not once, but twice, and turned us into something we could only dream of today.

Everything good that you see at NUFC today: stadium, the 50,000 fans, the PL football, the reputation, it is all because of Kevin Keegan. And do you know what Mike Ashley did? He lied to Keegan and chose Dennis Wise over him.

Ah yes, Dennis Wise and Tony Jimenez. It seems so long ago doesn’t it? Did we forget that Mike Ashley let Dennis Wise run this magnificent football club, and let a former crowd steward at Chelsea be in control of transfers? (scroll down, this only the beginning)

Then later came Joe Kinnear, John Carver, and Steve McClaren. Incompetent men, one after another, appointed by Mike Ashley to manage us into the ground. Now we all make mistakes, John Carver was a good coach under Gullit & Robson, McClaren used to be England manager… but Joe Kinnear, so toxic Mike Ashley appointed him twice!

Some might say that he didn’t appoint these guys. However, if he appointed the person who appointed them (Llambias, Charnley), then that makes him even more responsible.

Next we arrive at Alan Shearer. With one relegation already confirmed, Shearer was the second club legend that Mike Ashley managed to disrespect and lie to. After verbally agreeing with Shearer that he would be manager after relegation, Ashley then went on holiday and never spoke to Shearer again. He would also go on to even remove Shearer’s name from the bar at St James Park.

It is important to note that throughout his entire reign at the club, there has never been any communication between club and fans…unless you refer to the fans forum in which the club hand picks certain fans who can only ask certain questions.

Oh and how many of these forums has the owner been to? I don’t need to tell you. The media team under Mike Ashley has been a joke (although I know some people like it) and the day to day running of the box office is still a joke.

When we finally did get some communication out of him on the final day of the season 2014/15 season, it turned out to be a pack of lies, Newcastle were relegated for the second time exactly one year later.

For me, this should be enough, but why stop there? Mike Ashley would go on to rename our football stadium the The Sports Direct Arena. Renaming the famous St James Park, as the Sports Direct Arena (I still struggle to believe this happened). He ripped down the St James Park sign from the stadium. Just let that sink in. Not for the first time, Mike Ashley had made Newcastle United into a public laughing stock, an embarrassment, a pitiful excuse for a football club.

mike ashley

Maybe he just doesn’t know much about football? So aside from Newcastle United, lets not forget just who Mike Ashley really is. I do find it a little ironic sometimes that fellow Toon fans can be so horrible to conservative voters on social media, calling them every name under the sun. However, because Mike Ashley has spent some money on their football club, he’s alright, he’s safe and we should let it his malpractices outside of football slide away.

I am not going to do that; Mike Ashley owns a company that has paid warehouse workers less than the minimum wage; relied on zero-hours contracts to pay the majority of factory staff; disciplined workers for taking sick days to the extent that one of them was forced to give birth in a toilet; fine workers 15 minutes’ pay for every minute they were late on shift. I mean, Christ, if you think the Chinese could be bad, take a look at your own British owner!

The transfer policy at Newcastle United has been disastrous and that has come right from the top. Don’t forget that these stories of a takeover are not new and it would not surprise me if they were fabricated by Ashley and his gang for whatever purpose.

I haven’t mentioned the sacking of Chris Hughton and appointment of Alan Pardew, his 8-year contract (and Graham Carr’s). Ashley was then such a safe owner that he couldn’t even sack Alan Pardew, even after repeated dismal sequences of result, head-butting an opposition player and calling a fellow manager the C word.

I am starting to run out of things now aren’t I? Nope, do you remember when the club discriminated against Jonas Gutierrez because he had cancer? That happened. I wouldn’t quite call Jonas a legend but Ashley’s managing of this situation somehow manages to trump that of what he did with Keegan and Shearer. What sort of ‘safe’ owner is taken to court/tribunal by two of the club’s icons?

So that’s two relegations, one top nine finish, no trophies, a terribly run football club, legends dismissed, a player with cancer dismissed, and one win over Sunderland in 7 years… so it’s not even as if the football is any good! The most positive thing on the pitch is that we won the Championship last season, I mean what is ‘safe’ about that?

So I could be wrong, this past 10 years could be a one off (or a ten off) its just such a shame we don’t have another club that Mike Ashley has been a part of to compare this to?

Luckily for us, we have Glasgow Rangers. Now I’m a Celtic man, I hate Rangers… but I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy what has happened to that club. Ask their fans what they think of Mike Ashley, do they think he’s a safe option, do they think his investment has made the club better?

Finally, apparently things are better with Mike Ashley since Rafa Benitez arrived –  so let’s look and see what he has been up to.

mike ashley

His development on land behind the Gallowgate will make sure that SJP never goes beyond its 52,000 capacity, and thus NUFC will never fully reach its potential, no matter how great Rafa Benitez is.

Oh and lets also not forget that only a month ago, Newcastle United Football Club was raided by HMRC and the MD taken away for questioning. How is this the safe/acceptable option?

Is this what it has come to? Not wanting rid of Mike Ashley in case we get someone worse? How could we possibly get something worse than Mike Ashley?

Luke Edwards wrote in a Telegraph column in 2015: “but the most depressing has been to turn a football club that almost every fan in the country had a soft spot for, into one that most neutrals would like to be relegated.”

One of the things I specialise in, is labour relations in India, and during a conversation with a renowned professor in the subject, he noticed my ‘Rafa’ badge pinned to my jacket… to which he said “ahhh Mike Ashley – now there is a factory owner who knows what he is doing.”

He explained (and I am paraphrasing) “Mike Ashley has the magnificent ability of creating a culture of fear at Sports Direct without ever doing anything that can be deemed illegal. Through manipulation techniques of threatening workers with extreme poverty if they stay at home to look after their children, or call in sick for work, instead of contributing to making cheap products for the most vulnerable in society. That’s how Mike Ashley works. And if doing that means Sports Direct makes more money, then why wouldn’t he??”

That’s what he has done at Newcastle United, Mike Ashley has created a “culture of fear” in which fans are scared of what is to come after Mike Ashley because they might lose Rafa Benitez.

As long as I walk through the turnstiles of St James Park and walk out onto the concourse to my seat, then see those Sports Direct signs either side of ‘Newcastle United’, Mike Ashley will never, ever, be the safe option.

If you say that you want to Mike Ashley to stay because he is ‘safe’. Then what you are really saying is that you don’t care about Kevin Keegan, you don’t care about Alan Shearer, you don’t care about Jonas Gutierrez, about getting relegated, about zero-hour contracts, about staff and working conditions, about being lied to, and worst of all, you don’t care about the other NUFC fans in the past 10 years who have lost their love of their club because of Mike Ashley.

I’m afraid that if you think Mike Ashley is the safe option, then you are about as fickle as they come.

(I almost forgot about Wonga! Wonga!)

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn

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



  • Rich Lawson

    Not a very nice man then ?

    • NUFCDan

      Apart from the rare technical innovator or inventor most rich people are dreadful humans, Exploiting the working class is how they get rich.

      • Rich Lawson

        Amen to that.

      • Guest 2

        True dat. The human race needs innovators in order to provide employment. But Capitalism has been skewed way too far in the wrong direction. And full circle – we come back to fatty!

  • lukegte

    “Is this what it has come to? Not wanting rid of Mike Ashley in case we get someone worse? How could we possibly get something worse than Mike Ashley?”

    Very well put. Great article, thanks for sharing

    • NUFCDan

      Well we could end up like the penniless Mackems, using the clubs revenue to service the interest payment on a loan.

      • Pelican

        Apples & Oranges. Very different clubs. Newcastle is a larger club which has the financial dynamics to grow.

      • lukegte

        Or; we could not “end up like the penniless Mackems”.

        We shouldn’t even be in a situation where we’re discussing such morbidly depressing hypothetical situations. We are because of one man and his insistence on perpetuating a global socioeconomic mantra… “make more money, irrespective of the social or economic costs”

        Well, it’s only football I s’pose…

        • NUFCDan

          Oh I agree, what I was meaning though is that Mike Ashley (as far as we all know) has never directly taken any money out of the club, either through money from player sales or interest the money who used to buy the club, He hasn’t invested any of his personal money either mind and has exploited us for free advertising, land etc. both of which are out of order. But say the new owners come in and use debt to a financial institution purchase the club and need to use revenue to pay the interest on the debt we’d be in a worse situation that we are now, Far worse.

          • Guest 2

            He’s the majority shareholder of SD and they have received free wall to wall (and rooftop) advertising. Of course he’s therefore taken money out the club – and even worse, a whole bunch of other shareholders benefited from it, not the club. Interest free my [email protected] therefore. As you rightly say – the Gallowgate land was also a club asset which he’s now benefitting from. And let’s not forget that this ‘businessman’ also managed to not grow our commercial revenue during all of his ownership. We still earn less from it than when he walked in. We’ve been relegated twice and suffered years of dross and scandal. Let’s keep things in perspective please.

      • Guest 2

        What loan? Rest assured Fatty will have made sure he is fully repaid + profit if he ever sells.

  • roblee07

    you didn’t mention the clubs policy towards the cups. just saying!

    • Geordiegiants

      Or the league target’s.

  • Pelican

    This is the best article I have read on ‘The Mag’ to date. The perfect time to apply the pressure, with the (hopeful) possibility of ownership changing.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    The sooner the Fat F@@ka leaves the better,
    2 relegations & a squad not fit for purpose in the premiership that`s his legacy

    • Geordie-7676

      2 relegation’s – yep, cant argue:
      Squad not fit for purpose – lets see where we are on the 11th August eh!

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        my guess is a sticking plaster job, but as you say we`ll see

  • MadMag83

    Quite a rant that! What’s needed​ is an owner who either knows about football or is happy to allow someone who does know, run things. Ashley knows nothing about how to run a football club, and neither do his minions he employs. However fans are clinging to the hope that Rafa is running the football side of things now, and the fear they have is that a takeover could disrupt that and we could find ourselves back at square one.

    So long as any new owner let’s Rafa get on with it, provides the money for players and has respect for the fans then all will be fine (if a takeover does happen).

  • Wor Monga

    …You forget to mention how he ate his hampster, when he was 3 yrs old…and that was black and white also!!!

  • hetonmag

    Great article Jonathan, and to all the people who say better the devil you know please give your heads a shake.

  • Damon Horner

    Let people have their opinions mate. Ashley is an awful human being and a clueless owner with a very large often repeated rap sheet whenever a writer wants to remind us over and over but if this is considered a good setup in running a club I’m not telling anybody they’re wrong for that opinion.

  • Guest 2

    Stockholm syndrome methinks.

  • Hughie_Gallacher

    Not that we’ll have any say in the alleged takeover anyway, but many of our fans seem to have pitifully short memories, unless they’re wiping out all the bad memories of the stadium name change etc. as the price to pay for having a little optimism.

    • Guest 2

      Hughie – even posts on The Mag over recent times indicate what a lot of the new ‘supporters’ think. The one’s who have turned the place into a morgue are the one’s who will be utterly resistant or terrified of such a development.

  • Leazes Ender

    Well said Jonathan…. I heard Chris Waugh of the Chronicle on the local news saying that some fans were apprehensive about change, no doubt based upon the chronicle’s poll asking all comers if they wanted Ashley to leave (29% wanted Ashley to stay)

    I would put it to the morons in the chronicle if you let sunderland fans vote that is the sort of result you will get and not one that you form your opinion from.

    The BBC were no better they interviewed some housewife pushing a pram on her thoughts….’eeh well he’s doing better now’ she said of Ashley.

    Ten years of trashing the club and the media can still find ignorance and a way to hit us again.

    Never trust a journalist especially in the silly season.

    • Guest 2

      Credit where credit is due like, Leazes. At least the lass with the pram had some idea of the state of the FC right now, lol! Can’t imagine a Chelsea pram pusher (no, not a Range Rover driver) would have given the same response to a similar question.

    • Kneebotherm8

      Sometimes it’s “better the devil you know”, but I don’t think that’s the case here.

      • Damon Horner

        “better the devil you know” can definitely apply here but I think most fans would take the chance the other guys are not being a devil at all.

        When the Ashley regime has breeded apprehension it’s not really fair to judge the apprehensive fanbase.

        • Kneebotherm8

          “Better the devil you know” doesn’t apply here. What we need is for the devil we know to eff off and let’s take our chances with some other owner/s. He/They can’t be any less ambitious for NUFC than Ashley has been over the years.

  • Albert Stubbins

    Yes but in general owners don’t buy football clubs to be “liked”
    It’s not a popularity contest. They buy football clubs for either their own egos or to make money or both. Only the likes of Man City and Chelsea have owners who are willing to lose millions whilst bankrolling the team. Even Man Utd- they have been wanting the glazers out for years- they owe the national debt yet no one is calling for them to leave now are they? whys that then? simple because they are now winning things again. So its now alright to put the club up for ransom as long as the club is competing and winning things. The point im trying to make is this- Owners dont care if we like them or not- that is not their role- there role is to run the club efficiently and at the same time give the manager enough money to bring in good players to enable this to happen. At first everyone thought Graham Carr was a genius- he brought in good players and this had nowt to do with Ashley it was all graham carr- now he’s been bringing in poor players its now all Ashleys fault? how does that work then? Ashley has made some horrendous errors whilst running this club he’ll probably be the first to admit that but we cant blame him for everything- we’ve had players who have failed us time and time again and managers who have had half decent reputations become useless as the pressure of the club became too much for them. I dont think we can blame Ashley for all of this- if we do then are we giving him the credit for bringing in Rafa- a stroke of genius or are we giving the credit to someone else? who? If Rafa keep us in the premiership and then eventually goes on to win something who are we going to give the credit to? Rafa of course- but who brought him in? we cant have it all ways.I’d like to see where we go in the next few years and keep the status quo- it it all turns to S**t then ok- it means Ashley hasnt backed Rafa but what if- what just if? its worth considering.

    • Leazes Ender

      Mackem

      • Albert Stubbins

        lol- how predictable- someone disagrees with happy harry and the insults. Let’s see how big you’d be on a man to man conversation? first home game make yourself known at the SBR and lets see how you’d figure in a cordial discussion shall we? No- didnt think so. Either man up or slink away in the gutter where you belong you odious little s***bag.

        • Damon Horner

          the irony of this guy calling you a mackem when he has nothing but hate for the club in every respect is quite amusing!

          • Albert Stubbins

            precisely the point I was going to make- season ticket holder for 29 years versus a man that NEVER has a single good word to say about the club. I know who the Mackem is and so I suspect does everybody else.

          • Leazes Ender

            Which part of Pennywell are you from?

          • Albert Stubbins

            buddle road benwell- There’s at least three lads on here who know me-come round whenever you like. Like I say- I’ll take great pleasure in ripping your smug little face off. TTFN.

          • Leazes Ender

            Excellent retort

          • Leazes Ender

            Right what a knuckle dragger.

        • Leazes Ender

          I do hope you turn out to be Lee Ryder

        • GToon

          Absolutely hilarious! What are you two like!! That’s the kind of comment my kids would make! They are both very good boxers by the way :-)

        • GToon

          Make himself known? His head is a very odd colour – start with that.

    • Guest 2

      Temper your thoughts, mate. Didn’t Fatty tell all that none of the bad stuff was currently his fault because he appointed a ‘Board’? Never mind the fact that he was on the Board (of only two – himself and Penfold) prior to that!
      Who ever called Carr a genius? Seriously! Maybe you thought that way but the majority certainly didn’t. Had Ba, Cabaye, Remi actually remained then perhaps it would have been genius – BUT someone was behind the reason to get rid of them. Who would that have been?
      The players who have failed us in Ashley’s tenure have been all the players bought under the ‘model’ he insisted we followed. Likewise you can’t thank Ashley for Rafa when he publically stated he was no longer on the Board or involved in ‘football’ decisions’! It would have to be Penfold – if you are stupid enough to believe Ashley had zero involvement.
      I’m unsure what you hope to see in the next few years if it remains the same. Hasn’t his ownership been enough already? I would seriously ask why not if you disagree after two relegations and years of nonsense.

      • Albert Stubbins

        There were people wearing t shirts proudly emblazoned with “In Carr we trust”- lol- I wasnt one of them but there were people who thought he was the best thing since sliced bread. Ashley has made some horrendous decisions- he has been a source of embarrassment to our great club- I accept that but has he by luck or good business stumbled across a structure that could give us some (relative)success? I’m not backing him for man of the year- far from it but he is the man in charge and we have Rafa at the helm- in the same way that the Glazers run Man utd- they have gambled with the future of the very club but now they arn’t public enemy no 1? why do you think that is- its because we as football fans are very fickle- if Rafa does the business in a couple of years Ashley wont warrant a mention because the spotlight will be on the team- as it should be, because it will mean we are doing well. I’m not backing Ashley- I’m choosing to ignore him that’s all. If he backs Rafa with the money he needs this summer I for one will be a happy chap- can we reasonably expect any more?

    • Pelican

      Why don’t you ask any well informed Man Utd fan if they want rid of Glazer… see if your theory holds up.

      • Albert Stubbins

        they were all very well informed when the glazers first landed- demonstrations,Fans landing at training ground in balaclavas, death threats, etc etc- then what happened? Man utd fans were worried that the glazers were going with all the money and that nowt would be soent on the team, didnt last long though did it? they soon started spending large amounts of money on players and winning things and then guess what- no more mass demonstrations- I wonder why? The club are in more debt than ever but where are all the informed man utd fans now then eh?we’re all just fickle football fans at the end of the day- you take the moral high ground and I’ll keep watching the team and praying for a day when we can win something.

        • Pelican

          Point remains.

          Just to add, what is the worst Man Utd fans have had to put up? being outside the Champions League places now and again. Incomparable to 2 relegations and the skirting of disaster that Ashley has put the club/fans through. It was the fans that convinced Benitez to stay in the summer, not Ashley. Imagine what would have happened if Benitez didn’t stay. Benitez will not be around forever, then what happens? Ashley will still be being Ashley.

          • Albert Stubbins

            you made the point about well informed man utd fans -not putting up with a terrible owner- you made the comparison mate not me. At the end of the day we have a choice to make- either stay away and hate Ashley and blame him for everything or do what I do- ignore him and get behind Rafa and the team- what I will guarantee you is this- if we actually were to win anything then discussions about Ashley would be in the dim and distant past.

          • Pelican

            Winning things would almost certainly mean the perception of Ashley was different, alas, he is a disaster and has won nothing. The club has gone into decline and aside from winning the Championship, is still doing so.

          • Albert Stubbins

            Correct me if Im wrong but as far as I was aware the club was winning F all long before Ashley came along!!

          • Pelican

            The club was competitive and one of the biggest sides in England, in regards to stadium/revenues etc. That has been turned upside down. I originally thought you had a valid point, even though I disagreed. Now I can see you are quite delusional and in denial. For what reason or purpose, I am unsure, or care to know. You have already used violence as a threat to others that disagree with you, which shows that you are unreasonable and lacking in civility. Not a good sign that you have much of a worthwhile opinion in the first place.

            By the way, I wasn’t going to pull you up on this, but I believe you need a reality check as to your blindside.

            1. “Even Man Utd- they have been wanting the glazers out for years- they owe
            the national debt yet no one is calling for them to leave now are they”

            2. “you made the point about well informed man utd fans -not putting up with a terrible owner- you made the comparison mate not me.”

          • Albert Stubbins

            you made the initial point about Man utd fans so you ve lost me there- I simply embelished the point.
            secondly- I didn’t threaten because of a disagreement of opinion- far from it- I welcome constructive critiscism but won’t put up with insults that have no foundation. I respect your opinion but I don’t agree with it- surely that is what debate is all about. We all want the same thing at the end of the day. Ashley bothers you and rightly so- I choose to ignore him- that is both our choices at the end of the day. NUFC.

  • Steve Smith

    It’s not about being scared or thinking Ashley is the safe option, it’s about using your head and not making emotional decisions like a snowflake.

    For the first time in 10 years there is actually cause for a bit of optimism and things are as stable as they’ve been since Sir Bobby left.

    Ashley hasn’t erased his sins, and still hasn’t proven that he deserves to own our club, but as things are the sensible option would be to allow him a TEMPORARY stay of execution rather than trying to force him out.

    • Damon Horner

      Fully agree but there is a lot of fans believing the current belief is a ruse to cover-up for Ashley’s self-sabotage masterplan. Apparently. I think he gets more credit than he deserves, the man hasn’t a clue but finally has somebody in there who does and it’s a manager who isn’t one to settle for 10th.

    • Leazes Ender

      Ashley is the type of bloke who parks his tank on your lawn….. and thats all he does.

    • lukegte

      “Past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour”. Ashley has shown himself, for long time, to be a parasite. There is never cause for any sort of optimism with him in charge. Grade-A fuckeryofthehighestorder is ALWAYS around the corner

      • Geordiegiants

        It’s coming. As the song goes “don’t know when don’t where” but it’s coming.

  • Gallowgate Dave

    Bang. On.

  • Geordiegiants

    Excellent article. I would take my chances and have him gone in a heart beat. The disgusting fat parasite has been a cancer to our club. No wonder the national media think our fans are fickle.

  • GToon

    Great article Jonathan and just the kind of write up that the national press and media need to be forced to read.

  • Thefootballerwhocouldfly

    Nothing to fear except fear itself… #AshleyOut

  • S.G.M.

    looking at the comments below, it doesn’t look like you have that much support
    Johnny boy.

    • Leazes Ender

      I’m afraid that if you think Mike Ashley is the safe option, then you are about as fickle as they come.

      • S.G.M.

        I do, NUFC is a unique football club, Geordies are a unique brand of supporters, and whilst MA has made some horrendous mistakes those that could have been undone, have been, and i believe he has on the whole been badly advised, I truly belive that it takes an Englishman to understand the unique qualitys of the Geordie faithful, the thought of a Chinese consortium trying to make sense of S.J.P. horrifies me. All football club owners only have their investments at heart.

        • Leazes Ender

          You sound like an accountant, Has ten years of Ashley not imparted any cognitive action….. he doesn’t take advice, he bought the club to use to advertise his brands.