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Mike Ashley proves not safe to be let out in public in PR shambles

5 years ago

Mike Ashley had made such a mess of running Newcastle United that he was forced to accept he had to start doing at least a few things in a normal manner – the most obvious being to employ the best manager he could find and give him proper control.

It had taken only the second year of his ownership of NUFC to achieve relegation and then a further six Premier League campaigns to manage another.

It has been a similar tale in recent times with Sports Direct.

The company has seen fortunes nosedive in the past year, with falling profits, negative forecasts, a share price that has more than halved and investors, media and the public unhappy with the maverick way Sports Direct is run – especially when it comes to treatment of staff.

Wednesday saw the Sports Direct AGM and to coincide with that, Mike Ashley himself gave media and investors a guided tour of the notorious SD warehouse HQ.

As part of this carefully choreographed PR charm offensive, part of the tour saw Mike Ashley submit himself to one of the much talked about searches from security staff.

At this afternoon’s AGM Ashley lost his temper a number of times and when it came to this stage-managed security search, he showed once again why he can’t be trusted to be let out in public.

So many of the criticisms about his running of Sports Direct are connected to leaving workers so badly off financially, including warehouse staff in the past being paid effectively less than the national minimum wage because of the extra (unpaid) time for these security searches.

Bearing this in mind, his tour today was surely to show some humility and respect for the staff that have helped make him a billionaire.

All was going well with the search until (watch the video below) Mike Ashley turned out his pockets and produced a massive wad of £50 notes.

Mr.Ashley’s understanding of PR is obviously very very limited and explains why his PR guru Keith Bishop tries to keep the SD founder very much out of the public eye.

We all know Mike Ashley has lots of money, whether in the form of his bank balance or £50 notes, but for him to not understand that there is a time and a place for everything…

He then compounded this PR gaffe with a poor attempt at a joke, jesting that he had just been to the casino.

A mental picture of gambling £50 notes in the casino isn’t really what Ashley’s people would have been looking for with this stage managed PR charm offensive, not when they are trying to project the idea that he gives a toss about whether or not he pays minimum wage to his thousands of staff.

Whether it is Newcastle United or Sports Direct, Mike Ashley clearly wants to do just exactly as he wants, most definitely not bending to the will of either Newcastle fans or SD investors.

The interesting time will be when Newcastle United and/or Sports Direct are returned to rude health, then we will see just how keen he is to be seen that he is trying to do things properly…


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