A lot has been said for a long time about why Mike Ashley continues at Newcastle United despite being hated by most fans and the local community.

He appears to see owning the club as a way to make money from selling on players, receiving TV money, and by getting massive worldwide free advertising for Sports Direct.

mike ashleyHe definitely isn’t in it for the love of the Club, the City or Fans.  That need not necessarily matter though, IF he can be encouraged to change his approach.

He will not move on or change as long as his business model works, and he is generally a very shrewd businessman – he didn’t get to be as rich as he is by being an idiot.

The same applies to his policy with regard to Manager / Coach, Player deals, and participation in the Cup Competitions, which is also driven by how they impact on his business model.

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Would lower attendances, boycotts, or even following another smaller local club, rather than Newcastle United, have an impact on Mr Ashley’s plans?  Probably not in the short-term at least, as the main elements of his business model would not be too badly affected. What would have an affect? What can Fans do to force him to change his approach and provide some real influence without destroying the club they love?

The only thing that might work is to think in business terms, think what a business competitor might do to win the battle with a rival.  Mr Ashley’s brand image is not Newcastle United, it is Sports Direct.  So what might affect his commercial image that he values so much.

Staying away from games or knocking the Manager/Coach or the Owner don’t impact on his Sports Direct business image too much.  Continuing to support the Team vocally, and attend games more than ever, no matter how badly the team plays, is critical if the club and team are to do well.

There is a real danger this season as about 15 points are still needed, which means winning 5 more games.  Something that is not that certain the way things are at the moment, a bad run can spiral out of control, and staying in the Premiership, whatever else happens, is what all Fans want.

Mr Carver and Mr Stone are unlikely to improve the side’s performances and development plan, no matter how passionate they are, but they are going nowhere unless Mr Ashley wants them to.  This doesn’t matter at the moment as a new regime, or a change of Business Plan by Mr Ashley, will sort that out eventually.

mike ashleySo what strategy can the Fans use that might be more effective?

Trying to affect the Sports Direct brand and image at televised games (which is basically every game played at St James Park) might be effective.  Would banners, actions, and protests that criticise Sports Direct during live TV coverage of matches have any useful effect?  Boycotting the Sports Direct shops will never really take off, and products can be sold direct under different brand names, and through different outlets.

The media love a good story and they will show the crowd and banners when it suits them.  Protesting is still legal in the UK, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion about Sports Direct and how the company operates.  Would it be effective – it’s hard to tell but Mr Ashley probably wouldn’t be happy.  Would it make him change his Business Model – probably only if it impacted on the effectiveness of his marketing and Brand Image.  Perhaps he would not like to take the risk over a prolonged campaign.

Some things the club is trying to do are good and it is important for the future to have a structure and way of operating that is sustainable.  Some parts of the development plan that is in place are reasonably good – it is mainly the end product of developing to sell that is the problem.

Mr Ashley is a very wealthy man, has a lot of commercial sense. If a campaign like this encourages  him to change his business model towards Newcastle United, keeping this tactic safe to use another day if needed, could provide useful longer term leverage and influence.

It will be considerably easier to try and drive him to do what is best for the Club, rather than hoping to drive him out of the club completely.  Returning to the rollercoaster days of repeated borrow, spend and bust cycles is not the best way forward.

Fans have to try and get the best out of the hand that is dealt.

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  • Carver for North Korea


  • No Brainer

    I am hoping not.
    protest is legal in public places.
    They can be taken away inside the ground.
    he stopped pouring money into the club when he got vile abuse I suppose more of the same would not work this time round.

  • likelylad

    What we need is a top head coach and good coaches.
    Then our players have more chance of reaching their potential.
    Then we have more chance of actually doing something.

  • No Brainer

    I agree I was thankful the club went with a measured approach for the new coach.

  • Carver for North Korea

    likelylad Name a top coach who`ll come ?

  • Maximus Moose

    Anybody who thinks Ashley will change is Delusional !

  • Demented_Man

    No Brainer He has NEVER ‘poured money into the club’.

  • A lex

    Hmmm…that idea sounds expensive. And top coaches also want an end result – like medals and awards on the mantlepiece.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    Courtesy of The Mag. NoBrainer & Co may not like factual information being re posted.

    Both journalists have reported back and this is part of Simon Bird’s interesting transcript of the ‘conversation’ between the journalists/shareholders and Mike Ashley, needless to say Ashley and his Sports Direct minions weren’t expecting anything but the usual quick presentation and the Newcastle owner instantly jumping into his helicopter;
    “I would like to address a question to Mr Ashley, please. I wonder if he could explain the benefits to Sports Direct in its relationship with Newcastle United and Rangers.”
    (Pause of 27 seconds)
    “Other than to say than it has been beneficial to Sports Direct and therefore its shareholders, I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment.”
    “Newcastle have said publicly, for example, that Sports Direct don’t pay for any stadium advertising or perimeter advertising at St James’ Park,  and there is obviously a lot of it, I wonder what the benefit is to you and whether you could give a rough estimate of what it is worth in financial terms please.”
    “I think I summed it all up in my previous statement. Those relationships are very beneficial to Sports Direct and its shareholders and I think that nothing else needs to be said.”
    “With due respect, can I then reverse the question? What is the benefit to the relationship they have with Sports Direct for Newcastle United, in which you are the owner, and Rangers, in which you have a shareholding? What is the benefit to those institutions?”
    Keith Hellawell (Sports Direct Chairman) intervenes:
    “This is really… That isn’t for the Annual General Meeting of this company. The first question was, in relation to what benefit the company gain from that. I think in relation to what Manchester United, sorry Newcastle United, and Rangers gain, you’d have to ask them. There’s no one from the board of those companies here. It’s not to do with this company.”
    “Well, there is one member on the board (Ashley).”
    Another director: “Yes, but this is a Sports Direct annual general meeting.”
    “I know. I’m aware of that. I was just correcting that error. Can I direct a question to Mr Ashley? Sports Direct now process and profit from the shirt sales and merchandising through Newcastle United, the website and the club shop. Can you explain how much this trade is worth? Is it a significant part of the business to Sports Direct and do you, Newcastle, share in that profit?”
    “I’ll only answer the same answer as I gave before.”
    “We are really straying beyond the AGM. We’re trying to be helpful.”
    “I would just say the questions are relevant to resolution one in the company accounts and how the company accounts are being boosted by Sports Direct’s very close relationship with Newcastle United and Rangers. That’s why we’re exploring this issue.”
    Hellawell:  “I think you used the word ‘significant’ didn’t you?”
    “So are you saying that is an insignificant relationship between the two?”
    Hellawell: “If you read the company’s accounts, you can perhaps realise the size of the company and the size of that contribution. That’s all I’ll say.”
    Simon Bird also reported that later one of SD’s staff confirmed to him;
    ‘Newcastle’s retail arm, which has been taken over by Sports Direct is worth £3.4m of business the company. That’s £3.4m off Newcastle’s turnover, including whatever profit it brings.
    Rangers retail business, now in the hands of Sports Direct, is worth £3.8m in turnover.’
    Great work by Bird and Caulkin, shame nobody is allowed to ask Mike Ashley any questions at a Newcastle United AGM.

  • A lex

    A very timely reminder. It’s a shame that too many around here have the memory spans of goldfish.

  • Mister Tee

    “went with”????
    That is past tense and implies we already have our “new coach”.
    Is that post sarcastic?