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Trust The Billionaire Not The Ballboys

8 years ago
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When are Newcastle United fans going to let bygones be bygones and start supporting owner Mike Ashley? The Wonga deal is the latest example of his business acumen and saw the names Newcastle United, Wonga and, yes, Sports Direct enjoy more media coverage than the England national team on international weekend.

In the new global media age in which we live, such marketing genius is crucial to the club’s survival. It’s a nice idea that we could go back to having no sponsor or carry a more wholesome name yet in the ultra-competitive Premier League football industry, having a strong brand and the rewards that go with it – in this case £32M – are tantamount to continued success on the pitch.

My own brief take on Ashley’s involvement with the club is that he bought Newcastle to have some fun and to get involved in a fashionable new billionaire’s playground, not realising quite what he was taking on. The suggestion that he is in it for the money is plain nonsense as football clubs notoriously don’t make money, quite the contrary, as he knew. Naturally an alliance between his Sports Direct firm and a major football club was never going to hurt business.

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Yet his early decisions; the appointment of Keegan, latterly Shearer, were attempts to give the fans what we wanted. That it went spectacularly wrong along with some catastrophic decisions such as allowing the odious Dennis Wise anywhere near our beloved football club, proved the steepest of learning curves. Yet everybody deserves a second chance and seeing Newcastle United back in Europe having finished 5th place and Alan Pardew Manager of the Year, showed lessons had been learned.

His ruthless reputation as a business man, of ‘liking to park his tanks on the lawns of the opposition’, can only be good for Newcastle United. As it shows the mindset of a natural born winner and one who likes to upset the odds and status quo. Whatever you think of the stadium name change, it kept the good name of Newcastle United fresh in the global sporting consciousness. As the recent change back did. In an ultra-competitive world where all publicity is good publicity, having a high profile may be the difference between a new player signing for us or a rival club.

This can only mean we are an attention-seeking (and getting) sponsor’s dream and Mario Balotelli is probably casting envious eyes North, looking down at his own no-mark strip. Google it if the current English Champions’ shirt sponsor didn’t spring instantly to mind. I’d personally have preferred the Geordie Shore logo on our shirts for the heritage value alone, yet no one is going to forget Newcastle’s new sponsor in a hurry: Ashley’s made sure of that.

One great point to come out of Wongagate was Supermac’s about the anti-Newcastle media bias. This is very true and Newcastle fans, players, management and owners need to stand United against the rest of the country, not squabble among themselves about off-the-field matters that are ultimately petty except for the amounts of money involved. If we have an enemy, apart from that insignificant tribe 12 miles away who would kill to have our ‘problems’ and notoriety, it’s the rest of the Premier League clubs and fans who were overjoyed when we went down at Villa Park and would have loved to have seen us be the next Leeds United.

Instead, we bounced straight back for which we have Ashley to thank and the financial revolution undertaken meant we were spared Portsmouth’s Fate. Make no mistake, a successful Newcastle United is the biggest threat to the established football order and this makes the media and others fans uncomfortable as our sleeping giant awakes.

While most fans would like more communication and transparency from Ashley, I’d venture that it’s his very unpredictability that keeps him and Newcastle ahead of the competition. Anyone see Cisse coming?

Having invested £300M of his own money and re-established us as a major football force, it’s time to have some faith in the 15th richest man in Britain. Let’s hear Wor Mike’s Black and White Army sung all the way to The Champions League.

Trust the billionaire not the ballboy: he knows what he’s doing.

@ultrastartime

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