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Opinion

Claims of Mike Ashley panic and selling Newcastle United on the cheap are wide of the mark

1 year ago
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It is now ten and a half years since Mike Ashley seized control of Newcastle United.

After the Sports Direct flotation he found himself with a lot of cash that needed to be put to work elsewhere, with a sizeable chunk of it then used to buy the football club.

Many people are still somehow taken in by the daft idea that Ashley was somehow duped into paying over the odds for the club but he knew what he was buying.

His people telling Sir John Hall that Mike Ashley was buying Newcastle United to promote his retail empire worldwide via the Premier League TV exposure.

I have no doubts that at last the evil one is interested in selling the club BUT the idea that he will be panicked into selling on the ‘cheap’ is nonsense.

However, plenty of Newcastle fans as well as pundits/’experts’ have been trotting out this line.

A belief that Newcastle losing matches could in some way prove to run in our favour, leaving Ashley desperately trying to offload the club due to fears of relegation.

That is not happening.

I think unless everybody in the media has got it wrong, Mike Ashley is prepared to sell the club for less than his opening sale price BUT this is not a case of panic.

After the run of good results I think he did think there was a chance of quick deal, so very likely putting it up at somewhere around that rumoured £380m/£400m mark, in the hope that some mega-rich billionaire (like him…or with even deeper pockets) would see it as a club back on the up and snap the club up ahead of the impending even more massive TV deals – which will be revealed by the end of this season (for the three years deals starting with the 2019/20 season).

However, I think Mike Ashley was well aware that this was a real longshot and always had a more realistic valuation in mind, a price that he would deal at.

The consensus in the media is that Amanda Staveley has offered £250m and Ashley is holding out for £300m. I think this could be a very fair reflection of where they are currently at.

What I don’t believe though is that with each extra defeat, Ashley will be prepared to drop that little bit further on what he will accept.

He is rich enough not to rely on the money he will net from Newcastle United, just like rich property owners who don’t panic and sell everything off when the market slumps. They/he are rich enough to decide to hold on and wait for the market/prices to rise again.

Mike Ashley didn’t panic and sell after the last two relegations, nor did he immediately look to get a buyer after promotion.

If he was thinking ‘I’m not going to risk another relegation at Newcastle’, he would have put the club up for sale immediately after NUFC beat Preston in April and got promoted.

Just look at all the near misses Newcastle have also had under Ashley, staying up when winning the final away match in 2012/13 and surviving on the very last day when beating West Ham 2-0 in the 2014/15 campaign.

Mike Ashley may well still sell (please, pretty please) but it will be on his terms, as always. If Amanda Staveley is waiting for the evil one to panic and buckle totally, sadly we won’t be seeing new owners any time soon.
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