Newcastle fans are still waiting to see just how the land lies between Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez when it comes to this summer’s transfer market.
What level of budget and how much freedom will the Manager have in this window, with only 11 days to go until pre-season training begins, United have only signed Christian Atsu and that deal had to be done within so many days of the season ending for them to get the winger for the previously agreed £6.2m fee.
However, Mike Ashley is showing plenty of activity away from that main topic which occupies the minds of Newcastle fans.
The club’s owner clearly seeming to encourage speculation regarding the club being up for sale and possibly/probably even planting that Chinese investors story with Sky Sports in an attempt to draw out potential buyers.
Then Wednesday night saw Mike Ashley jettison the architect/main mover of his failed transfer strategy, with Head Scout Graham Carr leaving Newcastle United by ‘mutual’ consent.
North of the border also came the astonishing news that Mike Ashley had compromised (yes, Ashley backing down at least to a degree) when it came to the impasse that had settled in at Rangers, with the Glasgow club releasing an official statement (see below) saying that the onerous long-term retail agreements Sports Direct had with the club had been ripped up. With now a simple one year agreement replacing them, whereby Rangers get the lion’s share of retail revenue.
As if that wasn’t surprising enough, there are reports this Thursday morning revealing that Ashley is allegedly in the process of selling his near 9% shareholding in Rangers.
The Mail say that part of the negotiations with Rangers has included Ashley’s agreement to sell his stake in the Glasgow club.
Rangers Chairman Dave King has indicated that Mike Ashley will sell his stake but made clear it wasn’t his place to make that particular announcement:
“I can’t talk about it but I would expect an announcement on that soon – Mike Ashley’s shareholding in the club was linked to an integrated retail deal.
“So I would imagine he is probably less interested in the need to have a shareholding in the club at this point in time.”
So where does that leave Newcastle supporters?
After all those years spent on battling with Rangers, it looks clear that Mike Ashley sees it makes sense to concentrate his time, money and energies elsewhere with his retail empire and beyond.
is it just coincidence that the Rangers movement is happening at the same time he is apparently happy for it to be put about that he is actively trying to sell Newcastle United?
Just like buying a sporting goods brand or a failing retailer, Ashley was always one day going to sell Newcastle United, it is just another brand/asset he owns.
I think it is very likely now that he has made a snap decision to cut his ties with football clubs in terms of shareholding/ownership and has in mind what he can do with that time and money elsewhere, in the quest to make more money in a different type of business.
Let’s hope so.
Rangers Official Statement – 21 June 2017:
“The Rangers Football Club Limited (TRFC) and Sports Direct (SD) are pleased to announce that they have terminated all prior agreements between them and entered into a new commercial arrangement on terms substantially different from the terminated agreements.
“As part of the new arrangements, the Rangers Retail Limited (RRL) joint venture between TRFC and SD has ended and, going forward, TRFC will deal directly with SD.
“The financial arrangements between the parties are transformed. TRFC will now receive by far the majority of net profits from the retail operations at the megastore and webstore together with an equal share of all net profits from sales through SD.
“For obvious reasons it is not the practice for the details of commercial arrangements to be made public. However, in view of the publicity surrounding the previous agreements and the resultant boycott by supporters of kit purchases we consider it appropriate to give supporters some insight into the new arrangements.
“Supporters now have certainty that any money they spend on Rangers products will be hugely beneficial for the Club.
“The new arrangements represent a fresh start for the Rangers Megastore, the re-launch of the Rangers Webstore and the sale of Rangers kit and products throughout SD’s stores.
“[Rangers] will now receive by far the majority of net profits from the retail operations at the Megastore and Webstore together with an equal share of all net profits from sales through SD. [Rangers] will also obtain a priority dividend on the winding up of RRL.
“Both parties are delighted to achieve a successful resolution to the issues that have previously marred the relationship between them and bring an end to the protracted and costly litigation.
“Rangers has traditionally been one of the best performing brands in British football and the club believes the new arrangements can restore it to that position, providing funds to invest in the team and facilities at Ibrox and Auchenhowie.”