Earlier this week, Mike Ashley invested around £46m in a 4.6% share in Debenhams.
This was seen as a move that would give him big bargaining power when dealing with the Debenhams management, as he continues to grow him empire and various brands. The much respected Debenhams had produced disappointing financial figures and as always, Ashley is looking at the chance to take advantage.
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This morning it has been revealed Ashley has instantly sold that 4.6% stake after shares had risen 5% on the back of his investment. Once the Ashley sale of shares was announced, the Debenhams shares instantly went down.
In this high end stakes of real life Monopoly, Ashley has then taken out a ‘Put’ option which means he has the right, but not the obligation, to buy a 6.6% share in Debenhams. If shares fall then Ashley well up paying less but if they rise, he then receives the difference. He is committed to spending a maximum of £64m on the stake according to the news from Management Today.
So what has this all got to do with us, Newcastle fans?
Well it reinforces the ongoing overview that Ashley loves the cut and thrust of doing deals that expand and strengthen his empire, something in sharp contrast to his running of Newcastle United. Where the mantra is constantly to keep costs down and spend as little as possible – speculating to accumulate simply doesn’t come into the equation.
To me though it also rubber stamps my opinion of where Newcastle United stand in importance in his empire and subsequently exactly how much attention, or lack of it, they get from the owner.
The days of sitting match after match in the directors box alongside Derek Llambias are long gone, with the owner hardly sighted at St.James’ Park at all this season.
Mega rich football club owners don’t necessarily need to have a hands on role but again this is where Newcastle United are so different and so weak compared to our competitors.
Ashley hasn’t even got a Chief Executive/Managing Director running the club, at least nominally, on his behalf since Llambias walked out.
While every other club of similar status has a head hunted professional management team running their Premier League club, instead there is tumbleweed blowing through the St.James’ Park corridors.
A skeleton staff on the hamster wheel just about keeping Newcastle United crawling along.
If Mike Ashley hasn’t got the time and/or interest in making Newcastle United successful and refuses to employ top level management to do it on his behalf – you’d have to be a bigger fantasist than joe Kinnear to believe that Newcastle United are heading in the right direction.