Football is a feast or famine type affair.

Take Arsenal. Perennial CL qualifiers until last year, their fans only see failure and underachievement, a habitual inability to compete for the Premier League, a lack of spending in comparison to the other powerhouses of the division.

FA Cup? Meh.

For most fans, Arsenal would provide a veritable feast. To them however, famine, injustice and a manager not worthy of the badge.

Perception truly is reality.

Which brings me nicely to Newcastle.

No one would argue that since Keegan and to a lesser degree, Bobby Robson, we have had nothing worthy of the term “gourmet” to dine out on.

Mike Ashley has left his own inimitable print on the history of our club.

Currently, I see many comments posted on NUFC forums, trying desperately to work out where responsibility lies, what is happening and why the owner continues to jeopardise our PL future by refusing to invest?

Comments made to the press seem to invariably result in broken promises and false hope. We all know it is the hope that kills us ultimately.

There are 3 fundamental points to make here.

Firstly, have no doubt that Mike Ashley is solely responsible for our position.

Charnley, Carr and others who have and continue to do his bidding, like all employees, work to instructions and a business strategy, irrespective of whether any of us agree with that strategy or not. Do not waste time trying to conjure alternative theories. Mike Ashley is single handedly responsible for the last 10 years.

Ashley bought Newcastle, not to embellish the sparse trophy cabinet and to woo fans but to further his major business interest, namely Sports Direct.

This involves at a basic level, a retention of PL status, where the football club is self-sustainable. Clearly, this strategy has not been implemented without issue.

Two relegations stand testimony to this.

However, this leads us the second point, which all fans need to understand.

Mike Ashley is a billionaire, an incredibly astute businessman. He wants to make money and Newcastle is simply a vehicle for him to achieve that.

However unpalatable this is to us all, it is also the truth.

No amount of revenue that Newcastle United generates as a business, from PL money to gate receipts and shirt sales, matters to him.  These revenues simply aren’t enough to move the dial when you consider the operational costs. Any PL club with an ounce of ambition cannot achieve long-term success and be self-sustainable, especially given the current transfer prices. See Manchester United (laden with debt), Chelsea & Manchester City (benevolent owners) for further details.

By continuing to think that he is only interested in profiteering from Newcastle as a club, we are being illogical.

The final point is this.

After promotion last year, we all expected change. Investment in the team and support for our world class manager. In our feast or famine football world, change does not come in shades. It’s either everything or nothing.

As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in between.

Mike Ashley has changed.


Well, in simple terms, by appointing a manager that can deliver his vision. The vision of a self-sustainable PL club.

He has realised that his goals and objectives could not be met by mediocre or downright poor managers, such as Pardew, Carver or McClaren.

He has accepted that, in the world of the PL where colossal financial inequality exists, he needed something special to deliver his business model.

This is why he went out and spent heavily on acquiring Benitez, one of the best paid managers in the world.

Have his spending philosophies changed? Not in the slightest.

Have his desires for the club changed? Not one bit.

Does he really care about winning anything? Not at all.

But does he have the right man at the helm, the guy who can deliver what he wants? Yes.

Mike Ashley, by any standards, has been a horrendous proprietor of Newcastle and seemingly will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. He has delivered perpetual misery since arriving.

But to accuse him of being stupid and failing to learn is simply wrong.

Ashley has negated the risk of failure by realising the importance and value of a top manager. From his perspective, investment in Benitez is a cost-effective way of delivering long term stability.

Of course, as with all businesses, good people tend to move on if their ambition and personal objectives cannot be met and herein lies Ashley’s real risk.

But right now, it is almost certain that Ashley will be dining out at a 5-star restaurant, marvelling at his own competence whilst fans are left feeding off the scraps of an uninspiring meal, namely a battle for PL survival.

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

  • Stephen

    What happened to “Every last penny”from the Championship Season?
    For me short of a goalkeeper( I will never forget Elliot between the sticks v Liverpool and Sunderland) and a Striker, why sell Murphy if you don’t have a replacement.
    Lots of ‘dead wood in the squad getting money for nothing, previous bad Managment to blame.
    Perhaps they should incert a playing clause in these contracts. I’m

    • Leazes Ender

      The previous squads were put together by the board as well.

    • Lofty

      Unfortunately Stephen, Mr Ashley is very clever with words…every last penny from the Championship is £47m. If you look at the accounts from last year, you can add around £24m from ticket sales (not increased for years) and the same from commercial (in reverse compared to other clubs) and you get around £97m income. Take wages and general expenses to actually run the club off that (around £105m last year) and there’s not a lot left. I’m not too sure how amortisation of transfer fees work, but we won’t have got £55m cash from Wijnaldum and Sissoko. We might have a chance of shopping in Waitrose instead of Lidl next year if we can stay up!

      • Leazes Ender

        Twisted words

        The witches prophesy….Macbeth…’I will not be afraid of death and bane, Till Burnam forest come to Dunsinane’. ….

        Ashley grew up in Burnham, Buckinghamshire.

        • Wor Lass

          Ah, the Leazes background research. I can remember you, on the Chronicle site back in the day, accusing a guy called Dave Skipsey of really being Lee Ryder because his surname was the same as one of Ryder`s aunties! Mind you, I don`t think he could have been because there weren`t any grammatical errors in his posts. Ha ha.

          • Leazes Ender

            A maiden name, quite rare on Tyneside but not so rare on Humberside.

            A natural assumption to make that the bald heeded wonder was hitting back at the criticism through aliases or his cousins were sticking up for him…… if it wasn’t him then he disappeared quite sharpish.

    • mactoon

      “Every last penny that the club generates through promotion, player sales” to correct your quote means £7.2 million from TV appearances in the Championship and promotion from it. The rest is from player sales, of which there haven’t been many and any that do get sold will be in instalments so only the first instalment will be included.

  • mentalman

    MA has tried to run the club as a business and can’t get his head around the fact that its not like his other business ventures, football clubs aren’t about turning a profit its about buying in to the whole culture of football but MA can’t get past making a profit.

    I actually think if he’d bought the club and his first appointment was a charmain/ceo/director of football ( what ever you want to call it) to solely run the club who actually knew how to run a football club then his way of doing things may have been successful.

    Instead he had his head turned by Dennis Wise and JK about how well they could run the club and he’s had to learn lessons the hard way and he is eventually learning them.

    The much maligned policy of buying up and coming talent to make a profit could have been great if it had been managed properly and a few of these prospects peppered in with established players.

    A lot of ideas that the management have regading running the club are good if only they were managed properly by someone with a footballing brain

    • Leazes Ender

      What have Wise and JFK got in common…. Wimbledon…. a club run on the cheap which punched beyond its weight (sic). The crazy gang.

      I had a conversation with Luke Edwards of the Telegraph about Ashley and he said that his impression of him was someone who bought the club in order to advertise his business and he would run it on the cheap…. he didn’t like ‘star’ players….. thus putting the name ‘SMITH’ on his shirt…. the most common name imaginable.

      Edwards was right.

      • Wor Lass

        They`re also both t*ssers.

        • Leazes Ender

          Good bloke Luke Edwards

          • Wor Lass

            My t*sser reference was regarding JFK and the poisoned dwarf – not Luke Edwards.

  • Scottpaige

    Let’s remember here…… Ashley didn’t go exactly head hunting Rafa.

    If Rafa hadn’t approached us then we would be in a lot worse situation. Ashley changed? Sorry no he hasn’t.

    Only slight hope we have is Rafa but even that is proving hard

  • Leicester Mag

    An astute well written and articulate assessment of Ashley and the club. One area I’d question is stupidity. Whether stupidity/ vain arrogance or spite over the 10 years decisions have been made that clearly damage the club, decisions that go well beyond an attempt to use a low cost alternative model. What is more his current approach regarding Rafa runs the very real risk of another such own goal.

  • Hughie_Gallacher

    It’s incredible how Ashley has driven down expectations. Matt Ritchie was asked about the team’s aims for the season in an interview and his response was: “It would be great if we could stay up.” Quite a few fans think the same way.

    • Leazes Ender

      Rob Elliot was asked two years ago about expectation……and said ‘Newcastle fans should know their place’….. ‘eighth’….. remarkable as the owner had deemed tenth good enough but failed to understand that without a goal to aim for it drags you into the relegation mire.

      Not having any purpose in life is a bit like being a fleckman…… a basket case!

  • Steve Pearce

    A good article but it doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t know already and unfortunately indicates that despite that claim he made earlier this year, he will never ever sell our beloved club. So its up to us to boycott his shoddy shops and even stop going to see matches at SJP. But what’s that I can hear – the sound of sheep merrily baaaing as they are led to slaughter……

  • TheFatController

    Ashley may be a good businessman and people point out rightly that footballis not like other businesses – supporters not customers, players and managers on huge salaries not wholly reliant on pay packet etc

    However, the man started out sitting along the fans, loving the limelight – now he turns up to game occasionally

    Why? He doesn’t like the fact that it’s the legends that get the attention /adulation.

    Got a manager the fans want out (MacLaren, JFK, pardew)? Loathe to be rid of them

    Got a manger the fans like (Keegan, Hughton, Shearer)? Well, see how he treats them?

    Businessman yes. But is his ego interfering at Newcastle ? I have no idea, but look at his treatment of popular / unpopular people, and then think of how he started wanting to be among us all in the away end, wearing the shirt etc…

    no, if he was purely a businessman he’d have loved a popular successful manager like Hughton…

    • brin mcardle

      Sadly true…but is missed is that Ashley is a truly vindictive man….consumed by spite

      • TheFatController

        My point entirely, when you’re a businessman you don’t get personal, chris Hughton had a steady ship – partly as he wouldn’t just say yes, partly as he was popular, either way his ego got rid of him way ahead of any business acumen…

  • Simon Dixon

    we have said this before, time and time again, if all the fans stayed away and season tickets were not renewed, then we just might see change

  • Wor Lass

    It`s impossible to fathom the man – I just make do with loathing him.

  • Tel Boy Telboy

    Well said good article.

  • Davey drape

    great article