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Mike Ashley the successful Alan Sugar apprentice?

6 years ago
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I was sat watching the Apprentice final with my girlfriend when she started googling how much Alan Sugar was worth. It turned out his net worth is a cool £700 million.

Being avid viewers of the US Apprentice as well, she then turned her attention to Donald Trump, who it turns out is worth an estimated £2.5 billion.

While she dreamily imagined having anything near those sorts of riches I decided to do a bit of research of my own.

“Remember those figures,” I said.

As expected, having googled Mike Ashley, I found him to be worth more than both these world famous entrepreneurs put together with a startling net worth of nearly £4 billion.

My girlfriend was amazed to discover that this billionaire owner of my favourite club, that I moan about frequently to her, was worth more than both of these men put together.

“I can see why you get so annoyed, why doesn’t he spend any money on Newcastle?”

Why indeed?

Being something of an admirer of big business, I’ve read both Alan Sugar and Theo Paphitis’ auto biographies. They at one time owned Tottenham Hotspur and Millwall respectively. Both say in their books that they had intended to run the clubs as a business but ended up haemorrhaging their own funds in an attempt to compete. Both claim football is not a business (ED: I think Alan Sugar might have had a decent go if he’d been around in these days of £100m a season from TV and all the other commercial opportunities on offer to Premier League clubs).

If Mike Ashley owned any other club I’d probably have some semblance of respect for him. He has actually come in and run Newcastle United as a business. We sell players to buy players and all the advertising and TV money disappears into profit. The man has done something these other esteemed businessmen could not. But he doesn’t own another club (well technically he does now). He owns ours. And he’s crushed the life out of it.

If he spent £100,000,000, he’d still have 39 more of these, we could transform our team into a genuine contender (or maybe not in the cases of Tottenham and Liverpool).

I think people in the media and fans of other clubs forget just how filthily rich our owner really is. And it seems none of them recognise that he’s milking Newcastle through free advertising and TV money. There is this common misconception that the money just isn’t there to really compete with the big boys. Oh it’s there.

Mike Ashley is worth more than Richard Branson. Richard Branson, who wants to fly people to the moon and back. Now that’s a dreamer! The furthest Mike Ashley seems to want to take us is 10th place.

The one thing I can say in Ashley’s favour is that he appears to be turning up to nearly every game now. Is he showing more interest in the team or the product?

A naive, optimistic and most likely clinically insane part of me thinks maybe, just maybe, this club will be rewarded for all the money and exposure we’ve given Mike Ashley and his brand. Maybe Ashley will spend big in the next four transfer windows and turn us into the team we all dream of.  Imagine that.

A more likely scenario is we endure the same minimal policy that’s got us this far until the summer of 2016, when supposedly Mike Ashley may disappear from our lives with his little mate in tow. Here’s to hoping. The next owner will need a lot of white paint to get rid of all the Sports Direct branding.

You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin

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