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Mike Ashley Out – At All Costs?

8 years ago

Not surprisingly, recent events have reinvigorated all the bad feeling against our (un)esteemed owner and there have been calls for protests, pickets and mass season ticket returns.

I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of supporters (including me) would prefer to see Ashley get out of town as soon as possible. And there is an apparently growing number who feel it is up to the fan base to try and force the issue.

However, I have a number of misgivings about this approach, even though I admire the efforts of those who are trying to bring about change.

The decision on whether or not to buy a season ticket or attend a match is a personal one and should not be dictated to by others. Disillusionment with football in general and our club in particular made me give up my season ticket a few years ago, although I returned this season. If anybody asked I gave my reasons but I would never try and persuade anybody else to do likewise.

Action such as protests and (potentially) picketing can be counter-productive in that they can undermine the campaign if they are not well supported. They could also (in the worst case scenario) lead to infighting and violence.

Mike Ashley is a businessman who has invested a huge sum of money in the club; is he really going to sell up because of protests against him? I doubt it. However, protests will almost certainly stop him from investing any more of his money unless he has to shell out to protect his investment.

We can only assume – but do not know – that Ashley would be prepared to sell up if somebody came in with enough cash for him to get his money back. Therefore the only way to get rid of him would be for such an individual or group to come forward.

There is much I do not like about the way Ashley is running the club, however clubs such as Blackburn have shown that the situation could be worse, far worse. If Ashley is forced out do you think he will care who he hands the club onto?

This has to be a major concern. Ashley clearly is not prepared to invest the hundreds of millions required to challenge for the Champions League places, he will only (if absolutely necessary) shell out to keep us in the Premiership. I don’t blame him for this, it is the financial structure of the game that is at fault here.

You may think I am an Ashley apologist who is suggesting fans need to get off his case. I am not. But I think that the efforts of those who are trying to bring about change could be better focused in a more positive manner.

If Ashley is to depart then someone needs to buy him out and that ideally has to be someone with the necessary finances to take the club forward. Perhaps a more positive campaign could be fought which concentrates on attracting a buyer rather than trying to get rid of the present owner.

How can this be done? Sorry but I have no idea! But perhaps we need to work along the lines of a tourist board. They make promotional videos, publish literature and talk to investors to try and attract people to the region. If such an approach was taken I’m sure it would get the support of and coverage in the media.

We need to show a potential buyer the positive side of the club and its incredible fan base rather than scare them off with visions of what might be their future.

Readers of a certain vintage will remember an advert for the Club chocolate bar and perhaps we could adapt their tagline.

“If you’ve got a lot of money in your wallet, (howay) buy our club.”


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