Well, I could barely believe my eyes.

The sports announcer on the telly said we were going to hear from someone called Mike Ashley, and I watched the screen expecting to see an obscure toiler in a sport I had never heard of.

(To feature like Wiz, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)

But no. With a disbelieving stare, as if I had ventured into a sylvan glade and come across a mummy unicorn bathing her young in a purple stream, I found myself face to face with this unattractive fat man talking in a rude and lapel-gripping accent that would be hard to avoid in the Essex fringes of London.

It was indeed the exotic image of no more and no less than our glorious owner saying all the kinds of desperate things that a Borough Market stallholder would shout out to drum up trade.

Of course, that was exactly what he was doing. Drumming up trade.

If he had said ‘Two for the price of one, come and get your lovely season tickets,’ it would have been no surprise.

He will have noted in recent weeks the quiet yet unmistakable drift away from St James’ Park on matchdays, the slowing in season ticket renewals, and the commencement of the Ashley Out campaign (why the organisers ever bothered with the Pardew Out campaign I have no idea – the problem was always Ashley) and Ashley is clearly uncomfortable.

Ashley has now publicly declared – quite truthfully, no doubt – that he had no idea the club would be in this position, and it had all been a dreadful surprise. He made no admissions of errors, and claimed investment ‘would continue’.

He also said he was not going to sell the club ‘at any price’, and would not sell until we had won something, and finishing in the top four of the Premier League constitued winning something.

Of course it is obvious that there is nobody out there willing to pay the hundreds of millions that he will be looking for. And of course a failing Newcastle United is no good for a man who regards our club as a sandwich board for his core business. There are business reasons behind everything he says and does.

But you know what? Whatever his motivation, I think these were all big things for Mike Ashley to say. And I think we might be about to see an astonishing change of track by the retailing genius and footballing nincompoop.

He has admitted, on the occasion of our relegation, to grave mistakes in the past. But by keeping our relegated team together we came straight back up, and I think it is now clear he was confident this would happen. Lesson Number One about Mike Ashley – he admits freely to error when he doesn’t have to change his stripes.

Of course he didn’t change his stripes, and indeed we were promoted, and over a period of the following few years he very nearly killed our club.

This time, you will have observed, he made no admissions to mistakes. And when he said investment will continue, because the club is in a stronger financial position (although financial strength is not what he regards, after all, as the important thing, because now we have to build a team that can win trophies – those are things he really did say) this to my mind does represent a major change of direction.

‘Investment will continue.’ By that, I think, he means he is now going to spend some serious money, and not just spend the bare minimum, which has brought us to our knees. He has come out and on the record declared that what is important about football club ownership is not so much having a marvellous balance sheet but having a marvellous team. Which he is going to give us.

There was this time none of the weaselling we have had from Charnley in the past along the lines of being ‘as good as we could be pound for pound’, and an ambition to produce an affordable football spectacle.

Imagine Charnley, before Ashley’s appearance on Sky, coming out with a little speech like the one that Ashley himself made. He would have expected to be sacked.

mike ashley

If Charnley (pictured with Ashley) stays, and I suspect he will, he will in future not be able to talk offensive drivel that suggests we are hoping to finish in tenth position. That is all history. It is the junk of the past.

The new mission statement is that we are aiming for the top.

There’s no rowing back from that.

Of course there is always the tacit suggestion from Ashley that the cups don’t really count. That’s what I detected, at any rate. He made no reference to the FA Cup – a specific example he did give of winning something was qualifying for the Champions’ League. That is not winning something, however much he defines it as winning something for his own purposes.

Qualifying for the Champions’ League means not flirting with relegation, and it also means getting loads of moolah.

But finishing in the top four would mean we had to be better than teams like Arsenal and Liverpool and Spurs. That will require huge investment and a top manager.

To my mind that is enough to be going on with.

Ashley will ultimately get his way, and we will eventually finish in the top four, and he will then sell our club for a huge pot of money. Which would be fine.

Seriously, does anyone think another owner would give us more? I think Ashley is fed up with obvious and unarguable failure. His core brand is not being helped. We are now going to see the arrival of a Five Year Plan Mark II. At least, that’s what I think.

Mind you, if Ashley lets me down, because these are major changes of attitude on my part too, I will be very very cross. Very cross indeed. This will not be a worry to him, but he might find a lot of other people are furious too, and his present problems will return.

We shall know soon enough. Let’s have a look at the new manager, and then let’s have a look at our new players. Kevin Keegan thinks Ashley sounded like a man who has lined up a new manager, and to be talking about winning things suggests he thinks we are going to be impressed with new personnel.

So let’s see how impressed we all actually are with the new hired hands. Because I suspect we won’t be seeing any more of our glorious owner for a long, long while.

“Special


  • toon_teddy

    I really REALLY hope I am wrong but all I took out of his interview was this quote ‘I’ll continue to invest in the club’.  He’ll continue to invest? No. We need Ashley to actually put some money into the club, not his pockets.

  • GToon

    Hoy Wiz, check out your “about the author comment” above with regard to what you think Ashley will spend! Ok mate, let’s assume he does have 150m he wants to blow on the toon. Who’s gonna come? Imagine that we could meet the fee and wages of Sterling but would he join us? No chance! He wants to win things! You could go through all the top players around Europe and none of them will want to add “didn’t win anything at SJP for 4 years” to their cv. The problem he has created is our standing in the league will dictate who will join us. So we are back to square one – signing foreign players who don’t really understand what NUFC is all about and will want to leave after 2 years, but represent value for money.

  • Toon161070

    Ashley and Sports Direct were the big winners yesterday. We as fans got nothing in my opinion.
    Will he spend big as is required, and, change the management??…….no he won’t.

  • NottsToon

    You’re drunk.

  • Andgeo

    If we have a net spend in excess of £25m I would be astonished.
    The most likely outcome here will be more Fcuk ups. The budget will be small and with an expectation of bringing in a few players it will be spread thinly. The result will be about her group of second raters.
    Penfold will remain, and the appointment of a new manager will be another Fcuk up! Cardew or McClaren.
    Wishful thinking is that I will be proved wrong, but the most likely outcome, after the past 8 years of fat ashley, is as above.
    Get real!!!

  • A lex

    He’ll say anything to calm the fans down and reclaim blind obedience. Sadly,; he’s probably been successful.
    It shouldn’t take long to find out what we’re going to be watching on Aug 8th, though.

  • Andgeo

    Investment means putting money into something with the expectation of taking more money back out after a period of time. In Ashley’s case he has thus far put in about £235m. This is providing him with at least £20m in advertising annually, probably more if you consider the increase in value to his sports direct brand over the past 8 years. The club shops giving him £3.5m per season and who knows what else he’s taking out.
    Anything less than £100m ‘back in’ this summer is taking the P1SS!!!

  • Chemical Dave

    Canny read but are we really to believe he’s going to spend serious money yet leave the managerial appointment to harry potter? If another no mark is appointed or the current one kept then its really pointless speculating on how much money he’ll spend.

  • LeazesEnder

    Have you been ill…. I sent out search parties, but they lost the hoofprints from your horse on the A1 at boroughbridge?

  • NotFatFreddy

    Reading what Ashley says and if he is serious then he could be leaving at the end of next season.  100 million on players and we just scrape 4th final day of season!

    Seriously?  He knows he isn’t ever going to challenge for the Champions League, but will be here as long as Big Sam was able to keep Bolton from relegation.  As long as Jimmy Hill presented Match of the Day.  As long as Everton have been in the premiership and Division One before that.  I was going to say as long as Robbie Savage’s girly hair…but he had that cut.  As long as Savages waffling, then

    Methinks Ashley was joking at our expense.  THINK ABOUT IT.  We haven’t won anything for a life time.

    HE IS GOING TO BE HERE FOR OUR WHOLE LIFE TIME…arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

  • A lex

    Of course he was joking. Last time he spoke in public, he said that Pardew was out any day. Well, that didn’t happen either.

  • NotFatFreddy

    If you ARE QUICK Jimmy Hill is still presenting Match of the Day!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007t9y1

  • Mal44

    We won’t get any really good players unless we appoint a top class new coach, who will want to bring his own staff with him. If Carver and Stone are staying as assistants I think we may have a problem attracting good players however much we are willing to invest. I’m worried that he appears to be continuing with Charnley, who seems out of his depth, and if the the head coach job does actually go to Carver then we are finished.
    We should know very quickly whether or not the promises he has made mean anything and really do signal a change in direction.

  • foggy

    Ashley did not say what he was going to invest in.
    He may spend his dosh on changing the colour of all the seats inside SJP so they spell out SPORTS DIRECT.
    He may build a helipad on the roof, do up the bogs or even  buy a new kettle.
    We’ll know soon enough how things are going to pan out, if he appoints carver as the permanent “head coach” then we’ll all know Ashley was talking through his arse

  • DZA187

    I don’t believe it myself. Where is our new manager and why has clueless JC not been sacked yet ?