We may have seen much drama in the 10 years Mike Ashley has owned Newcastle United, the highs and the lows, but how much has really changed in that decade?
Whilst one bizarre decision has followed another, with brief respites of sanity, Ashley has ploughed on with his own very personal view of how to run a football club.
Well, a football club that also happens to have the owner simultaneously controlling a massive sporting retail empire.
John Hall said shortly after Ashley’s takeover, that the new owner was looking to use the football club to help expand his retail empire but nobody at the time quite comprehended how that would work. Or wouldn’t work, from a Newcastle United point of view…
Survival in the Premier League became the name of the game, to deliver both the PL TV cash and worldwide exposure of NUFC and Ashley’s brands.
Running alongside this was a typical Mike Ashley gamble/experiment…banning the signing of players over a certain age, look for possible future profit which helped almost exclusively rule out domestic signings, ban the manager/head coach from any say on transfers, trust the judgement of a Head Scout to pick the signings.
Graham Carr was arguably an even more mysterious/background figure than the owner himself. Very rarely interview or even quoted, Newcastle fans had to rely on rumour and guesswork as to just how influential he was.
By a process of elimination we have to surely assume that he was the one who had Ashley’s ear on transfers but now he has gone.
Almost certainly retained on Newcastle’s books for an extra year to save face, after Rafa Benitez decided to continue his Newcastle United project after relegation last summer.
Mike Ashley has now sold his stake in Rangers and cut all ties with the Glasgow club, apart from a new more normal retail relationship that benefits the club and not just Ashley/Sports Direct.
Rumours persist of a willingness to sell Newcastle United if somebody puts up enough cash, either way it appears that things are at last never going to be quite the same after these 10 years that have made little sense to your average football fan.