The Sun newspaper have revealed that they turned down Mike Ashley’s offer of a ‘commercial’ deal with Newcastle United AND Sports Direct for exclusive press access.

Last year The Sun were getting all kinds of exclusive interviews and other kinds of access that their rivals weren’t, leading most fans and outside commentators to assume that they had done a deal with Mike Ashley.

However, The Sun’s man covering Newcastle United in the north east, David Coverdale, has revealed that no such deal was signed.

The Sun journalist says that Mike Ashley volunteered all of the exclusive access as a series of tasters, which the newspaper happily took advantage of.

However, a point was reached when a ‘commercial’ contract arrangement was put in front of them but they turned it down

David Coverdale saying that The Sun refused because it was bad for the industry. Explaining that the deal on the table would have given exclusive NUFC press access in return for a commercial agreement with Newcastle United AND Sports Direct.

Coverdale believing then at that point, Mike Ashley moved on to The Mirror, which is the third biggest selling newspaper in the UK, behind The Sun and Daily Mail.

Last week saw no press conference laid on for Steve McClaren taking the Newcastle job, instead the only newspaper to be given access on the day was The Mirror’s north east journalist Simon Bird who had previously criticised the supposed arragement between The Sun and Newcastle United.

Speaking to the Press Gazette, this is what David Coverdale had to say, with the following introduction first from the Press Gazette piece:

Coverdale revealed that The Sun was given special access to the club, but that this stopped when the newspaper turned down the chance to enter into a “commercial” arrangement with the club and Sports Direct, which shares the same owner, Mike Ashley.

“What happened last year was Newcastle wanted The Sun to be their media partner. So this time last summer, I was being invited to exclusive interviews with new signings, which I wasn’t comfortable with, but I did.

“However, every time I checked ‘is this a deal, or is this them trying to get a deal?’ and it was always just them trying to. Nothing was ever signed.

“So effectively we were doing interviews through no ties at all to Newcastle. They were giving us tasters, almost.”

“We took all the tasters, we took all the freebies – because effectively they were just giving us interviews, giving them absolutely nothing in return…

“And then when it got to the stage where… a deal was on the table, are we going to sign it or not? That’s when we stopped it because we knew how bad it is and devastating to the industry.

the sun“My bosses went out of their way to make sure it didn’t happen.”

“In the coming season we expect them (The Mirror) to get be getting interviews with players and the manager on a regular basis when Newcastle are going to go out of their way to strip our access back.”

“We think that what’s happening with Newcastle and the Mirror is bad for the industry, it’s bad for journalism.

“We think it sets a really dangerous precedent about the future of covering football clubs for the newspapers.

“Now Newcastle have done this, what’s to stop Manchester United trying to do a deal with the Daily Mail or Liverpool trying to do a deal with The Daily Telegraph?”

Newcastle United declined to comment.

The fact that the same company owns both The Mirror AND local titles The Chronicle, The Journal and Sunday Sun, will no doubt make many Newcastle fans wonder, whether the likes of the Chronicle suddenly regaining access during last season was mere coincidence.



  • Sickandtiredstill

    Simon Birds last piece wasn’t too glowing of the Club once again. Perhaps the Mirror were just offered the same arrangement the Sun had, prior to it rejecting the commercial contract?

    Either way, paid for propaganda is exactly the type of spin Ashley wants out there – nothing hard hitting, factual or critical. Seems right now we can throw the whole load of Austin, Berahino and Dost stories in the bin and expect nothing more than Sakho or the Watford kid to come.

  • North East corner

    I agree with you on the points you have raised. I am looking at the ‘targets’ we are being linked with and have noted how they appear to be drifting down the scale from excellent to average hope I am reading too much into this and that we will get some top notch playing talent in before too long.

  • gazchampion

    North East corner I like what you’re saying but I doubt anything ‘big’ will happen…we’re all to long in the tooth to expect this now. We’ll end up with a second-rater (no offence to any incomer).
    If ‘we’ are thinking of competing to WIN something (and I mean winning a trophy, not just a home game!)  we MUST buy in some top notch talent… 
    Fat chance with fat boy mike in control… and he’ll remain IN CONTROL, never mind standing down from the Board! Only a PR Stunt

  • Well I certainly won’t be shedding any tears of sympathy for any of the rags and their journo’s to be honest.

  • magpiefifer

    I’m not a fan of the ‘red tops’ but I hope that Ashley’s antics totally backfire on him!
    One things for sure,it’s not just us fans who hate Ashley.

  • Robbie1977

    Oh the irony. The same newspaper that charges you money for going on their website. Haha

  • KeithMullin

    Higgins1892 lcabbabeh marknicko68 Doesn’t know where the line is that fella

  • Toon Terrier

    Ashley has been compared to North Korean president Kim Jong-un with his dictatorial style. A bit strong perhaps but he seems to have the same tendency of controlling the message and banning anything critical. Bet he wishes he had the power to jail dissenters of the carefully controlled propaganda the club puts out. Be interesting to see what would happen if The Mirror wrote a really strong anti Ashley piece. I am no Sun supporter but have to agree this sets a dangerous precident for the press and freedom of speech. I wonder how much money is changing hands but whatever the amount it surely can’t compensate for the negative press the club is likely to receive from all the other papers. There will plenty of that coming when it becomes apparent the transfer dealings are ‘not like it said in the brochure.’

  • magpie9

    It would have been money for doing nothing, Interviews with new signings? May as well be exclusive interviews with first Martian to score at SJP

  • Happyharrys2011

    The man is a dictator, self consumed. He doesn’t care about anything or anyone. People like him who think that they are to big for there boots, all fall fowl at some time or another.
    Off the top of my head without looking on Google. I’m sure a few of you can remember bigger and better ones.
    Anyone remember Gerald ratner? Thought he was big and clever, one tiny mistake and boom.
    It’s coming for Jabba the way he is going on with all the wrong people. Sooner rather than later hopefully!

  • Toon Terrier It’s actually the western press that are controlling the propaganda about North Korea, don’t believe a thing you read . As for fatty ,he should be taken to the abbatior and hung up by his ankles .

  • Wayne Clayton

    Can’t say I’m surprised. The man (I use the term loosely) surrounds himself with tat. (Spurts Defect and W*nga) so why not go the whole hog and attempt to ally our club with “The Scum” – the same pack of b**t***s who stuck the boot in over Hillsborough. Freedom of the press? Don’t make me laugh.

  • kuromori

    devonbay Toon Terrier  ToonTerrier is referring to North Korea’s internal propaganda. Please don’t suggest they have a free and open press in that country and that it is the Western media that is forcing them to misrepresent themselves internally.
    Unless, that is, you believe that Kim Jong-Il shot a 38-under par round with 11 holes in one the very first time he played golf in 1994 – in which case Mike Ashley has a job for you.

  • JackyKimo