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Would you trust Mike Ashley to sell to the right person…?

6 years ago

I’m a dreamer.  I’m an optimist.  I’m also a realist and quite incredibly depressed at the state of affairs at Newcastle United.

I’ve read hundreds of reports of the dystopian nightmare that is reality in and around St James’ Park, I’ve even written one.  It’s getting me down, anybody who supports NUFC is feeling down right now, and rightly so, we’ve been battered for the last 8 years (and a while before that).

(Ben is just one of our ever expanding team of regular/irregular writers, send in your original articles for our website to [email protected] and share them with the world – all views are the author’s own etc etc)

I just want to try to provide a moment of light relief, a bit of a dream and hopefully help you to remember that hopes and dreams are the bedrock of supporting a football team.

For the benefit of doylems, this is made up, not real, imaginary, wishful thinking, just for fun.

“It’s mid-April, 2015, the morning sun is shining as I sit in my office overlooking the Gallowgate end of St James’ Park.  The glint of sunlight off the bonnet of a slick Mercedes catches my eye as it pulls up outside the executive offices of SJP, it looks just like the one they carted JFK off in the day he was booted out.

I can’t quite make out the figure emerging from the back seat, it looks like a shock of blonde hair, it could be anybody, probably just another PR guy being brought in to lie to us idiots who keep turning up to matches…WONGA, LOADSA WONGA, it’s pointless, I turn back to my work with a sigh and swear under my breath, it ends with ‘Mike Ashley’ and would get me into a lot of trouble if I put it on twitter…

After lunch (toasted ciabatta with chicken and bacon, I know how to live) I see the same car, this time two men are climbing into the back seat, both of them with luscious blonde hair, blimey, they’ve invented a cloning machine in there, so that’s what the money was for!

I can’t make out their faces, but they are smiling, wait, one of them is wearing glasses, very dark rimmed, a bit like Lee Charnley’s, but this fella has some follicles.  A name flashes in front of my eyes but I swat it away with my realism bat, no chance.  At that moment my phone vibrates on my desk making me spill my coffee, it’s my brother.  ‘Bro, I’ve got some news for you, but you have to keep it quiet’.

I’m used to these kind of calls, he’s got a few connections, beyond ‘my mate’s hairdresser’s brother’s dog says…’, and often gives me nice titbits well before the media gets hold of them.  ‘Bro, I’ve heard that Richard Branson is interested in buying the club…’, I pause, to give him the satisfaction of having told me something new, but I had already seen Mr Branson laughing his way into a limo with Exhibit B. ‘Seriously?!’ I say, I think it was convincing.

We have a chat, and it transpires that a deal is close; Richard Branson is buying the club!  Apparently, he was deeply offended by Mike Ashley’s decision to drop Virgin Money as a sponsor and take the less lucrative offer from Wonga and has been plotting a way to, not take revenge, but put right some wrongs that have been perpetrated by the current regime, after all, his brother does live in the city and he is a fan too.

Hardly able to contain my excitement I make my way home having been unwavering in my solid secret keeping, well, I told my parents obviously, and my best mate, but he’s pretty reliable, oh and the Mackem at work, but I couldn’t resist that.  I might have hinted on Facebook too.

It was all over Look North, Sky Sports News, Spring Watch…’Bransoon in the Toon’ ‘Virgin on the ridiculous’ were the headlines, Champagne Charlie Nicholas gurgled something while his earring jangled and Steve Howey was wheeled into the studio to completely misunderstand some basic questions from Georgie Thompson, mmm, Georgie Thompson.
I knew something else though, the other man, the man with the dark rimmed glasses, my brain had made the connection, it was Jurgen Klopp.  I immediately emailed The Mag with the exclusive, breaking news, KlippetyKlopp will be installed as the new manager within 2 weeks.  Things are beginning to look up in the Toon, prepare for the black & white wall!

I woke up early the next morning, to be honest I hadn’t had a lot of sleep.  I leaned over to check my iPad for whatever had occurred during the night in the world of Facebook and twitter (it’s an obsession, I’m getting help), nothing much, apart from wild speculation from every corner of the globe, but nothing with any substance to it.

It remained that way for a week or so, and despite the deal going through and Jurgen finally taking charge of his first match, a 1-1 draw with West Brom all had calmed down.  Then, in a post-match interview, in fact, his first post-match interview, Kloppy revealed who his first signing would be, Borussia Dortmund’s captain, Mats Hummels.  I dropped a scone.  Mats Hummels?  Unbelievable!  The fee was undisclosed at this stage, but Jurgen was adamant, he would be signing as soon as the transfer window opened.

This is the dawn of a new era I thought, Mike Ashley has gone, he really has gone.  In fact, in the following weeks Sports Direct went belly up, the cheap tat sports clothing market crumbled and he was bought out by someone’s nan for a fiver, he even had to sell his disgusting mock Tudor pile.

In the following weeks Sepp Blatter announced he had converted to Buddhism and resigned his presidency of FIFA, David Ginola took over and immediately fired every last corrupt FIFA member.  Realising he was now alone, he appointed a load of totally sound people to take over…”

OK, I’ve lost enthusiasm now, but you get the picture.

This is pure fantasy, I’d never have a toasted ciabatta, but there is an underlying point that might come through.

As I said in my previous article, boycotting the Spuds game was a great stand to take, and over time and with growing enthusiasm and repeated events it might have some effect, eventually.

(Photo by Adam Barnsley)

Think about the protests, riots and various campaigns against him, not to mention persistent chanting and refusal to buy merchandise that have been pretty constant for the last 6 years at least.  I’m sure all of that is chipping away at his resolve and one day he will crack.

In the meantime our best option, assuming we all want change, would be to find a credible candidate to buy the club from him.  That statement in itself is fanciful to say the least, I’m sure very few of us have friends with that kind of money, but the only thing Ashley listens to is cash.

So, what about Mr Branson?  Seriously, we all know he likes a challenge and will pour money into things that are fun for him, he’s a maverick, he has an association with Newcastle, not just through banking, but family ties too.  He is a businessman, more successful than Ashley, but with far fewer enemies (that I’m aware of) and has a strong brand he could apply to so many things at Newcastle.

Obviously, he’d have to forget about the red aspect of Virgin, but I would welcome all the advertising he chooses wherever he wants, as long as he has the drive and enthusiasm to make this great club truly great again.

If he did that he would literally be a knight in shining armour, OK, no armour, but he is a knight.  He would be adored by a whole nation, his company would reap the benefits and if he were to bring success to the club his story would be told for years to come, free (not entirely free) advertising for life!

Howay Branson, stick a bid in will you?

Maybe we should be concentrating our efforts on persuading someone like him to rescue us, rather than relying on Ashley to hand pick who he sells to if he decides he’s had enough…would you trust him to make a good decision in our best interests?


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