Just in case you missed it…Monday night brought an exclusive from Sky Sports, claiming Mike Ashley was considering selling the club to ‘Chinese Investors’.
Apart from the headlines of their exclusive, predictably fine details were a bit thin on the ground.
Everybody will have their own ideas about how likely/unlikely it is that Mike Ashley would sell up.
My own opinion is that like any person who buys a business that they have no personal attachment to, they will sell it at some stage.
It is surely the reality as well that if somebody offered him enough money, Mike Ashley would have sold Newcastle United at any point over the course of these long 10 years he has been in control.
I thought it would be useful to look back at the roughly yearly statements that Mike Ashley made in 2014, 2015 and 2016 about his relationship with the club, each of them is repeated below.
In September 2014, an official statement was released by Newcastle United, after the Telegraph said that Mike Ashley had put the club up for sale.
Announcing that the newspaper and journalist (Luke Edwards) were now banned, the club’s (Mike Ashley’s) statement declared that the owner would not be selling the club ‘at least until the end of next season’, which was May 2016.
It seemed a very strange statement to make and why the relevance of the end of the 2015/16 season? Of course, the club got relegated, so it raises the question – if NUFC hadn’t gone down, was Ashley intending to sell at that point. With relegation meaning he had to simply delay selling the club, until it was back in the Premier League…
The 2015 statement/interview from Mike Ashley came on the day of the final match of the 2014/15 season, the owner speaking to Sky Sports before the West Ham match which could have relegated the club.
Ashley insisted that he wouldn’t sell up until Newcastle had won a trophy or qualified for the Champions League.
Does anybody honestly think that because he made this statement, it would stop Mike Ashley selling Newcastle United no matter what money was offered, or how his own personal/business circumstances had changed?
Then finally we had the 2016 interview/statement(s) in March, Mike Ashley having left it far too late to change managers and Rafa’s opening games seeing defeat at Leicester and a draw at home to Sunderland, leaving the Magpies hot favourites to go down.
This time he appeared to be thrashing around in anger, saying there was money left to spend and not to now come crying to him asking for more.
Was this somebody who had seen his plans to sell the club at the end of that (2015/16) season come crashing down around his ears?
I think the bottom line is that Mike Ashley won’t care what anybody says or does when he sells Newcastle United, whether it is to Chinese investors this week, or Mackems the following week/month/year.
He will see when it is the right time for him and walk away without a backwards glance.
NEWCASTLE UNITED OFFICIAL STATEMENT 12 SEPTEMBER 2014:
Newcastle United has today banned the Daily Telegraph with immediate effect following a report published in its paper yesterday (Thursday, 11th September), headlined ‘Newcastle United For Sale As Ashley Eyes Rangers’, as well as a follow-up article from the same reporter which appears in the Daily Telegraph today (Friday, 12th September).
The reports by Luke Edwards on 11th September, and again today (12th September), are wholly inaccurate and written with the intention of unsettling the Club, players and its supporters.
This is disgraceful journalism for which the Club and its supporters should receive a full and unreserved apology from those concerned.
The truth is Mike Ashley remains committed to Newcastle United.
For the avoidance of doubt, this means that for the remainder of this season and AT LEAST until the end of next season, Mike Ashley will not, under any circumstances, sell Newcastle United at any price.
The Club cannot be stronger in stating its position on this matter.
It is not acceptable for newspapers to print factually inaccurate reports that are damaging to the Club and to fail to check facts with Newcastle United ahead of publication and then expect to receive access to the Club.
Newcastle United will not tolerate this and will take such action as it deems appropriate.
The ban extends to all reporters working for, or freelancing on behalf of, the Daily Telegraph, as well as Luke Edwards in any capacity he may have working for the paper’s sister title or on a freelance basis.
MIKE ASHLEY SPEAKING TO SKY SPORTS 24 MAY 2015:
How disappointed to find Newcastle in this situation?
I couldn’t have really imagined it from Christmas. Didn’t anticipate we would be even near this situation so obviously after the last sort of couple of weeks I’m still a little bit shocked by where we find ourselves today.
Who is responsible? The manager, the fans, players or does it stop at your door?
What is next?
If you are talking about investing in the club, I will continue the policy of investing in the football club.
Even if it relegated?
If there is such a thing as you are able to guarantee promotion then I would like to say I will guarantee that.
The only positive is that we have got the club on a very sound financial footing. We are able to spend relatively and punch above our weight now with the current financial situation the club finds itself in.
If you hadn’t come into the club, where would they be?
Not as strong financially. I’m going to add, that that isn’t really good enough. It’s no good having the horse and cart scenario. We may have the cart financially but we are now going to bolt the horse on. And we’re going to.
What is your message for the fans?
Today we don’t need to be unlucky…not today. From this day forward we will definitely be making our own luck.
What is your ambition now?
To win something definitely, and by the way, I shall not be selling it until I do.
So the club’s not for sale?
Not at any price. When I say win something, if we ever get in the position of a Champions League place, that also qualifies as winning something.
What about appointments of managers and so on?
It is Lee Charnley and the football board that make those decisions, as it was Derek Llambias who brought in Alan Pardew. I will not be picking the next manager – it is not what I do.
My job is to make sure that they have the maximum financial resources and it is their job to get the best pound for pound value out of those resources.
To be categorically clear, I am not going anywhere until we win something.
MIKE ASHLEY SPEAKING TO THE MIRROR/SKY SPORTS – MARCH 2016:
“All I can say is; there is a bank account. When you have emptied it, it’s empty. Don’t come crying to me for more money.
“(There is) virtually nothing left now. They have emptied it. I have virtually nil affect on Newcastle in reality because I only pick the board.
“Do I regret getting into football? The answer is yes. I’ve had tonnes of fun in it but I haven’t been able to make the difference I wanted to make in football.
“I wanted to help Newcastle. I wanted to make it better. But I haven’t seemed to be able to have that effect.
“I think everyone can agree we’ve had a proper go at it this season but the results haven’t been ideal.”
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])