At the inaugural Fans Forum, when asked about the overwhelming Mike Ashley free advertising, the directors replied that Sports Direct and Ashley’s other brands were given the space because nobody else wanted to buy it.
Now today it has been revealed what the real truth is.
‘What is the saving that Sports Direct makes on advertising around the stadium?’
In reply the club have released the following answer;
‘The club suggested that while it is always proactively looking to attract new commercial partners and to sell that advertising space, in the current climate it could not command a sum for that space anywhere close to the £129m invested into the club interest free by the owner.’
So basically the club have admitted that they are never going to try and get outside companies to pay for the space currently given to the rest of Ashley’s business empire for free. The justification being that he doesn’t charge himself interest on money that he’s invested to buy the club and on running costs after the disastrous relegation he presided over.
This just makes an even bigger mockery of the claims in the 2012/13 accounts report the club issued today, where they bragged that outperforming other clubs commercially was one of the central ways of taking the club forward.
An outside company comes along and wants to advertise inside St.James’ Park instead of Sports Direct, Sondico, Dunlop, Karrimor etc etc. – sorry, no can do.
An outside company wants to have their logo on the training kit instead of Sports Direct – no can do.
An outside company wants to have their logo featured at press conferences instead of Sports Direct – sorry, no can do.
An outside company wants to have advertising hoardings at the training ground instead of Sports Direct, which are always seen in training shots on TV as those filming are told where to stand and film – sorry, no can do.
Another question asked at Monday’s Fans Forum and linked to the above was asked by Mark Jankowski;
‘If Mike Ashley is committed to buying the club, why doesn’t he just write the debt off?’
In reply the club stated;
‘The board explained that it would be an option that some clubs would consider, but from the perspective of our group structure there’s a requirement to have debt within the structure.’
So in other words, having the paper debt there against the club is for business reasons that are of massive benefit to Mike Ashley and the ‘group’.
That ‘debt’ Ashley holds against himself at Newcastle United reminds me of people brought in from abroad with promise of work, who are then told they owe a debt to the unscrupulous people who have recruited them, but the debt is never ever paid off.
While we can walk away from the club, unlike unfortunates who end up as basically slaves, like them though the Newcastle fans will always have that ‘debt’ used as a weapon against them and as justification for how the club is run under the current owner.