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Why Mike Ashley Doesn’t Share Our Dreams

9 years ago

Wednesday brought the re-publication of every Geordie’s favourite modern day headline; ‘Newcastle for sale!’

Now at first glance the majority of fans will be saying good riddance to Mr. Ashley but things are never that straight forward.

Firstly, it should be noted that the club is actually for sale all of the time and is not the result of the fans shouting and declaring anger at his management of the club.

Secondly, the figure of £267 million will almost certainly never be offered. The problem is that it is totally unrealistic for a buyer based on the assets available. While the stadium is owned by the club the land itself is owned by the council, therefore reducing its value.

Furthermore, you have to question where the figure comes from. Reports would suggest it is a combination of the fee paid for the club plus its debt. However, the level of debt reported is obviously significantly higher than previously reported from our outing MD. Don’t get me wrong, Ashley is a businessman and no one would expect him to not try to make a profit on his investment but the club simply isn’t worth what’s been supposedly asked, however that’s not to say it couldn’t be. While the brand has diminished under this management, it still has a strong commercial appeal worldwide and is largely recognisable in most markets.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the Ashley era is the fact that commercially we seem a million miles away from the other big players in England, and where we were under Hall, and dare I say it Shepherd.

Take the forthcoming pre-season. For the second year in a row Newcastle won’t be playing a friendly outside of Europe. This is absolutely ridiculous! How the club plans to promote itself to new markets and potential sponsors by playing Blackpool away is beyond me. Yes it will be a good game for the fans but we are falling behind with a fraction of our commercial appeal we had pre-Ashley.

Even in 1996 under our greatest ever owner, Sir John Hall, we were travelling to Asia for pre-season. Now I’m not an advocate for trophy signings, in fact I was glad when the club said those days were gone, but they can be essential for generating interest and therefore big sponsorship deals. Take our two record signings in Shearer and Owen. Their Newcastle careers couldn’t have been any different but what they did help give us was a renowned name in the world market.  Sponsors everywhere had heard of them and would be therefore interested in them promoting their product.

Whether people like it or not the premier league is a brand, the clubs are brands and the players are brands. The only way to succeed in this environment is to embrace it and look to develop. Ashley’s ownership of the club shocks me because he has always appeared to have gambling traits. He has a love for Casinos, he takes on suffering sportswear brands and likes to play the stock market.

Now I’m not going to profess to be an expert on stocks and shares but anyone who invests for short-term rewards knows it’s all about timing. For Newcastle united this might be our last chance to revive the club from becoming a boring mid-table club for eternity.

The top and bottom of it is that we will never strive for Champions League again. The reason is simple, and applies to our lack of commercial activity too, Ashley doesn’t have a long-term plan. Why?…because the club is always for sale!

There is no benefit for Ashley to invest heavily in the playing squad for 5 years time when he could sell tomorrow. You have to look at it from his mindset to understand why we are where we are. Spending 50 million to try and challenge for top 4 to get the benefit of 50 million in extra revenue in the short-term makes no sense to him. Unfortunately, we will be here until the day Ashley decides to take Newcastle United seriously or lower his demands for the club.

While it appears Ashley has no interest in pursuing our dreams it begs the question of whether we can ever get someone who does.

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