Mike Ashley never does anything by accident when it comes to Newcastle United.
Even when it appears he has made an on the spot shambolic decision…frequently, there will be a reason he is doing it, which normally benefits him rather than the club.
The weekend saw his mates (colleagues?) at Sky Sports put out the story/exclusive that he had promised to ‘donate’ £20m to the Newcastle squad if they won the FA Cup this season.
Newcastle fans shook their heads at the latest PR stunt and wondered how their supposedly skint Billionaire supremo was going to afford this and if he did have £20m spare, why hadn’t he given it to Rafa Benitez so NUFC might have a team/squad that had a tiny chance of actually winning a trophy.
Meanwhile, 99% of the media simply repeated it as a simple word for word news story, with many neutrals also seeing it as a ‘typical Newcastle fans moaning when the club has such a generous owner’.
The net result of all of this is that already, as always, Mike Ashley is quids in. He has generated a massive amount of PR/advertising for himself and by association, Sports Direct, because that is of course what he is primarily associated with. If you don’t believe me, just look through most of these reports about the £20m FA Cup bonus, nearly every one of the stories will mention Sports Direct somewhere.
Imagine if the FA Cup win actually happened…as well as thousands of Geordies going missing for weeks from work as they celebrated, just imagine how much coverage Mike Ashley would be getting from paying out the bonus.
Yes he is a gambler but he could already be quids in anyway, even if ending up in the very unlikely event of having to pay the £20m to the NUFC squad.
All he would need to do is hedge his bets, Newcastle United are widely available at many bookies at 50/1 to win the FA Cup.
He would only need to risk £400,000 (50 x £400k = £20m) to ensure he had enough to cover the £20m payout and by my reckoning he is already well on his way to recouping that in free advertising with the FA Cup third round draw still some three months away.
Even if he didn’t want to go down the bookie route, insurance companies would offer a similar deal, pay a premium of £400,000 and safeguard against the very very unlikely loss.
Mike Ashley, always coming out in front.
Maybe one day Newcastle United will.
The Mag – Earlier today (13 September 2017):
Mike Ashley once again released a PR ‘exclusive’ through Sky Sports at the weekend.
The story being that the NUFC owner would ‘donate £20m’ to the Newcastle players if they win the FA Cup this season.
This leading to much amusement at what other unrealistic bonuses could be offered, such as winning the Premier League, or the Champions League, or the Great North Run before scoring a double hat-trick at Swansea.
This PR announcement came against a backdrop of a row that had lasted all summer, with Mike Ashley having offered the Newcastle players a bonus scheme for this Premier League season that was way below what rival clubs have incentivised players with.
The offer on the table was £1m if they finished 17th and avoided relegation, which worked out on average at less than a week’s wages for each player.
That amount would then increase by £1m for every position above 17th.
The Newcastle players though were refusing to accept less than their rivals and a month into the season there was still no agreement.
However, agreement has now been reached.
Miles Starforth (of the Shields Gazette) has had the inside track on this story from the start and he has revealed that a phone conversation between Mike Ashley and Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles saw the bonus scheme eventually agreed.
On Wednesday morning he reports that the agreed deal is the same as what was on offer previously but that Newcastle players will share £4m if they avoid relegation in 17th place and then still an additional £1m for every position higher.
The Premier League payout at the end of the season sees the 20th placed club get £1.9m extra for finishing bottom, then for each place above they get an extra £1.9m.
So roughly speaking, Mike Ashley and the Newcastle players have agreed that the squad will receive half of the extra money the club receive depending on their position…plus the £20m for winning the FA Cup.
Now the players would receive the same £20m if they win the Premier League (cough cough) as they would the FA Cup.
I would happily settle for either…
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