There have been occasions in the decade of dead hand ownership by Mike Ashley (10 years! Lord help us..) when we’ve just about managed to push to the back of our minds the nonsense of his rule.

Keegan’s end of season run in 2008, the Championship year, coming 5th (5th!!!!) in the Premier League in 2012, the Europa Cup run the year after…and now this season.

However, they’ve only been glimpses of light through the murk that we’re all far too aware of…

Sacking The Messiah, Llambias, Wise and Kinnear (twice…), losing court cases, trying to rename the ground, putting in hardly any player investment after coming 5th and, of course, the fabled ‘new model’ of football ownership that led to two relegations in seven years.

However, through more luck than judgement – and probable panic this time last year when relegation coincided with the press aggro and Parliament Select Committee meeting regarding his feudal ownership of Sports Direct- Ashley has ended up with the best manager he’s ever going to have and an open door into the riches of the Premier League. I don’t think there are many of us who would be that lucky in life.

The big question now is, what happens next?

Through the various insulting press releases and just two tv interviews over the years, Ashley has always promised ‘jam tomorrow’. His ‘new model’ of ownership, to put the club on a more sound financial footing, was meant to be short-term pain for long-term gain.

There may have been some sense in that but surely not to the extent he took it. The lack of investment over 4-5 years after coming 5th (remember just getting Loic Remy on loan the summer after reaching the quarters in Europe?) was meant to tighten the club so it could be competitive in the future.

Well, the future has arrived. If not now Mr.Ashley, when? If not now, what has been the point? If you don’t invest all these savings we were meant to have made from your ‘buy young and sell on’ policy and from the apparently huge Sky and international tv money on offer, then you’ve been what we all think. An owner with no interest in the club and one that simply has used the club as a cash cow for his businesses.

Rafa knows we need £70-100 million investment. If Ashley won’t allow that, he’ll walk. And quite right too. And so will lots of us.

I’ll still look out for the score but it won’t play a big part in my life anymore and I won’t go anymore. That’ll be a shame, as my 15 year old son has loved going to the games since he was 8. He’ll still be fanatical and so he should be. The young shouldn’t be a cynical as the old.

I will have had enough until we get another owner. A lot of people have already done that so there might not be many fans left.

I’m sure most of us are only 50-50 about Ashley backing Rafa. Lots of the pundits have also been pretty outspoken of the fact that they’re not convinced Ashley will back Rafa. I’m personally more 30-70.

So the question remains Mike Ashley – if not now, when? And if not now, get out.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

  • Andy Mac

    The problem in the past with Fatman is that he not only employs numbnut journeymen managers but he also ties them up in all manner of non disclosure agreements which means the truth rarely gets out after they’ve left the club.

    However Rafa aint stupid and the one thing he wont agree to is a gagging order. If Fatso doesnt come up with the goods and shoves Rafa out it will be on the Spaniard’s terms. Which means that we’ll all get to hear what a cheapskate skinflint ahole Ashley really is.

    Then it will be up to the fans if they accept Rafa’s departure and Fatman’s meddling ways or actually grow some and drive the Fat Oaf out of town.

    • nufcslf

      How very very true and well said. Fans still showing up if he makes a mess of yet another position to build on from are simply fans that waste money on a pointless situation going nowhere for a man that doesn’t care. I even struggle with 30-70 for the stunts he has pulled to date. Cashley Out…….

  • Alex

    Good God, man, please give Ashley time. We’re still only 10 years in to the first 5-year Plan.

  • Mrkgw

    Surely even MA wouldn’t be so foolish as to let Rafa go. 🙄

    • Alex

      His record so far suggests that he could be.

  • Thefootballerwhocouldfly

    99.9% chance Ashley will NOT back Rafa.
    Hope the title goes to Rafa next Sunday he deserves it.
    We all know what lies in store for us as fans…..

  • hetonmag

    There is a statement from Ashley that sticks in my crop when we got relegated, he said and I quote we have done it before we will do it again. Now that is the nonchalant attitude that gets you in trouble, because if Rafa hadn’t have come along we would have been in deep s$$t.

  • Blackburn1066

    Look here lads and lasses Rafa will sort the little fat short shop keeper out no prob’s. He (the fat one) might know f**ck all about the Toon or footy but he is not going to ship the one with the golden egg out of the Toon.

    • Jezza

      I wouldn’t be so sure. Ashley had no qualms about forcing Kevin Keegan out of the club and he was also happy to let Alan Shearer go.

      • Viru leckworth

        KK wasn’t forced out of the club: at least not literally. He left because of Ashley’s ludicrous decision to hire the Weasley Denis wise above him.

        • Jezza

          Kevin Keegan was constructively dismissed by Ashley. That is not my opinion. That is the verdict of a court of law.

          • Viru leckworth

            I now, but it amouñts to the same thing.

  • Geordiegiants

    I don’t think it’s so much about the exact amount of money Rafa is going to get. I think it’s about him getting the maximum that the club can afford to give him with free reign to spend it how he likes. If he sells he gets the money back to invest etc.

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Yeah. I don’t agree with blank cheques it actually doesnt work. I think Rafa has proven he can work astutely with a plan and actually get quality and value for money. Hes actually a draw which gets us to players we otherwise couldnt… like Ritchie to championship.

      • Geordiegiants

        Rafa’s not daft, he knows we don’t have 100m to spend. He just wants control of his own destiny, and not having to sell anyone’s he doesn’t want to sell.

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          we`re half way there, as there`s around £40m credit on the books

          • Geordiegiants

            Without sounding like Gobbi Bobbi. I think a big chunk of that has been used to keep the club going through the championship season as income is reduced massively when down in the championship. I’m no expert don’t get me wrong, but we have to get money from somewhere as Jabba doesn’t put a penny of his own in. (Without upping our national debt)

        • Damon Horner

          which is why I think for as long as Rafa is there than he has enough control to appease him. I wouldn’t worry until the day he leaves.

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Ive said same before and had smart a$$ responses. If Ashley drops ball this time it will be final straw. I will support my club from afar until the time the medicine forces Ashley out and under new ownership. This really is his last chance saloon as I think many think the same. The cynics in us all are just waiting for Ashley to hit that self destruct button… I don’t think he can help himself at times. For once I just hope for once he does the right thing and backs this manager properly to run it properly and we all reap the rewards.

  • 1957

    Jamie Carragher’s piece in the mail really summed up where we are. This is the way Benitez works, playing politics with owners through the press to get the best possible outcome to move forward. At some clubs, like Liverpool, it has worked for a few years but eventually things go sour, at others, he barely gets through a couple of transfer windows.

    At NUFC I can’t see Benitez getting all the funds he wants, the question will be will he alone determine how the money available is spent or will Mike allow Graham to top up his retirement fund before he answers to HMRC.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Rafa, a man with a plan. 3 other men had a plan as well, Kevin, Alan & Chris but Ashley didn`t like it so out the door they went
    do not assume he won`t do the same to Rafa because he would, it`s because of our beloved owners intransigence, we are where we are

  • Damon Horner

    Ashley’s biggest problems were his insistence/arrogance on hiring a head coach to train players selected by Carr and his insistence/arrogance that a man in Carr’s position should make the signings and that they have a sell on value. Trouble is for the latter one is you need a balance within the team in terms of playing styles and personalities and the chasm between coach and Carr was major in us failing in that respect.

    While Rafa has the final say and is given the budgets he feels is needed he will stick around but the truth is, he could be manager of a more reputable club which will find an easier route to success and without any boardroom handicaps, if there is an issue he won’t stay and will leave having fulfilled his remit in the eyes of the public. While Rafa stays, we have to believe Ashley might well be trusting the right person.

  • steve

    He fully backed McClaren with close to a £100 million so no reason to think he won’t back Benitez

    • anyobrien


    • Leazes Ender

      He backed Carr and Charnley to get them out of the clarts you mean…. when it was apparent we were in trouble after two years of no investment!

      • Jamie Smith

        This was nowt to do with Ashley “backing” anyone. It was the club’s money that had been built up over years of transfer inactivity.

        He’ll not put his hand in his own pocket, this meeting will basically be Rafa convincing Ashley to give him access to the funds NUFC has generated, or will this season.

  • Lord

    It’s not about the budget for players, it’s about the control of the budget for players.

  • Leazes Ender

    The much quoted figure of £70m will buy Pogba’s right leg…..

    Where do you get these ideas from?… I suspect its the press which surrounds United…. they think up a figure with the word Million in it and it sounds a lot….. rather like watching the news and the commentator saying the North has been granted £2 million for improvements to its road infrastructure…. punters really cant tell the difference between real investment and blather.

    Journalists aren’t good with figures from what I’ve seen, who can forget Lee Ryder’s infamous ‘NINETY-FOUR PERCENT say they’re right behind you PARDS’ headline…. well Lee Ryder was 100% behind him thats for certain just as he was !00% behind Fred Flintstone ……I mean Sam Allardyce..

    Real investment is sustained year in year out…. replacing the mistakes, the ‘past-its’ and the Journeymen and the loyal locals with better players… it doesn’t have to be £100 million a year if the club had ambition because it would be uninterrupted…. not a Charnley juggling act!

    As it is the gulf will require serious investment, serious commitment but most of all ambition and a mission statement of intent!

    Ashley unfortunately is the owner for now…. what is it people don’t understand about this fella?….

    ….his track record is stuck in a groove!

    • Damon Horner

      He is a lazy businessman and trusted Carr and Charnley to run the club for him, the 5th place finish possibly giving him a false sense that the model he has employed is a success but Ashley can surely see what the fans can see and in four years that went quickly from 5th to relegation.

      Ashley’s word to the cameras two years ago where he signalled an ambition, (I believe he is an ambitious man but wants it in place without the work that goes with it) and he counted fourth place among what he considers major success, he knows that’s where the money really is and he has a manager in there who knows how to get there (his previous model having permanently failed) and unlike before (perhaps led to believe it) the Champions League places are not an impossibility which Man Utd’s struggles has shown us all.

      Ashley will never have a plan other than to hire a man with a plan and maybe now we have that with Rafa in charge, the key surely is that the trust in Rafa is maintained?

      • Leazes Ender

        Absolutely he uses OPB…. other people’s brains…. he has to.

  • Leicester Mag

    No other fans would have tolerated what has gone on over the 10yrs of hubris under Ashley. Liverpool fans managed to get rid of their fakes, we failed. We have played out the arguments support the team / boycott ad nauseam, he is still here. If he fails this time and doesn’t back Rafa there can be no more chances.

    • Leazes Ender

      If Ashley and Charnley had done this to Spurs or Liverpool they wouldn’t have lasted half as long.

      • Mark Scott

        Yes, because the media are on their side and they don’t give a toss about us unless it’s to fill page columns with smear campaigns or pointing out that we are a laughing stock.

  • Thefootballerwhocouldfly

    Perhaps our saviour may be the HMRC?! Ashley sacks Carr & Penfold, distancing himself from the dodgy dealing & allows Rafa to run the club for him!? Hope this cunning plan comes to fruition?!!

  • bobbi fleckman

    Rafa will stay if he doesn’t get better offers elsewhere. West Ham has been mooted and if he decides London is an easier commute and the wages are good he will go there.

    Mike Ashley will give him the budget, I don’t doubt that. He will have far more control than he had at Madrid, Chelsea, Inter or Napoli so that’s a red herring.

    • Mrkgw

      I hope that you are right iro MA. I would also like to think that Rafa would choose of his own accord to stay given the support that he has been given during games etc. I can’t imagine that he would have had anything on that level at any other club. The lure of London will always be there though, I can’t personally see the draw in that respect and as we all know, the grass isn’t always greener. Rafa need only ask the likes of Pardew on that score.

    • Viru leckworth

      I am inclined to agree

  • Sing in the Leazes

    There’s so much uncertainty.
    So many different scenarios and opinions.
    But I tell you one thing that’s 100% certain.
    If Rafa walks…
    We are definitely f***ed.
    Not just ‘in trouble’.
    End of days fu***d.
    No coming back.
    50,000 broken hearts.
    Who would come then?
    Certainly not a decent manager or any players. Or any fans who could get over their blind loyalty.
    Next season would be a bunch of not good enough unmotivated players and a mercenary manager getting inevitably relegated in front of 35000 every week.
    Disaster of biblical proportions!

    • Mrkgw

      Or, along comes Pardew……….!

  • Dennis Tate

    I believe Ashley will back Rafa with his transfer kitty, as Ashley should know now the mistakes made in the past has not helped his wealth.
    He will want the club to stay in the Premier Division as this is big money for him.
    Rafa is the man to make Ashley aware of past mistakes.
    The rewards are endless.
    Ashley will get a lot more back than what Rafa is given for team building.
    Weather it is 100 million or 150 million dividends will pay.

  • Mark Scott

    I think even Ashley must realise that we need to spend and he needs to back Rafa or forget about the manager leaving, we are pretty much certain to go straight back down. Rafa is definitely getting the best out of what he has available and he needs to be able to continue his rebuilding. I just dont think he is going to get as much as we all think he needs thats all.