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Opinion

A warning for Mike Ashley from close to home

4 years ago
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It’s been over two months since Amanda Staveley was spotted in the crowd at the Liverpool home game and we are fast approaching the mythical deadline of Christmas for the club to be sold.

This was reportedly a deadline put out by the people of Mike Ashley to hurry up a sale at a time when the going was good and seen by fans and media as a good time to allow spending in the January transfer window.

When this supposed sale/buyout was first mooted in October, we had 14 points on the board and looked decent in mid-table, no doubt Ashley thinking that he could command a higher price from whoever was willing to take on the club.

Sadly, and not for the first time, he’s been proved wrong. Unlike himself, anyone looking to take the club on, will have done their homework, even if they haven’t a clue about football like Mike. They will have talked with people, looked at the squad and realised that even if Newcastle had been in the top four after 10 games, this was unlikely to last.

It would have been obvious to anyone that the quality of this side is likely to be mid-table if the planets align and probably 14th-20th depending on how things go with injuries and form etc. This side needs four players to make it a good side, but just a striker to keep it’s head above water in the meantime.

When the captain is fit and everyone performs well, the side will win games as proven when we went on our decent run earlier in the season.

When we get a couple of injuries and some players drop their game, we struggle. Let’s not forget that the bulk of this side is Championship standard, it didn’t run away with the Championship, it merely won just enough games to get automatic promotion through the default of having just enough quality left over from a relegation, to make sure it was just that little bit better than most teams in that league.

In 2009, Ashley gambled. He took a chance on Newcastle having enough quality left over from the Premier League to get us back up at the first attempt and it worked. The core group of Harper, Coloccini, Enrique, Smith, Gutierrez, Barton, Butt, Nolan, Carroll, Ameobi were all streets ahead of what was in the Championship back then and so it proved, with instant promotion off the back of nearly no spending at all. Only a couple of players were brought in but a lot of money was recouped in the aftermath of relegation and then of course there was the parachute payments, so if anyone says relegation cost Mike Ashley then it’s another myth.

Skipping forward to 2016, once again we found ourselves demoted to the Championship through complete mismanagement, yet it’s fanciful to think that this cost Ashley anything at all, he simply took another gamble. Parachute payments were over £40m and players trading showed a £40m profit in summer 2016, Gini Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko bringing in over £55m alone. Now that’s a lot of income for a club that’s just been relegated.

Plus just like in 2010 we had enough quality to jump straight back to the Premier League, so in fact what has two relegations actually cost the owner?

I would suggest nothing at all. I would further suggest he’s still MADE money, albeit not as much as if the tv revenue had kept rolling in from the top league.

As for potential values for the club, it has been mooted that he wants £400m and that’s fine. There’s nothing stopping a person putting their house on the market for £200k, but if it’s only worth £140k, then it’s going to take someone who is either mad or desperate to actually buy it.

It has been said in some quarters that Ashley has been looking to keep his S****s D****t advertising aloft at St James’ Park, even after any sale, and for this I’d be very sceptical as to how he would expect a future owner to allow it. Rumoured to be valued at £7m a year this can only be viewed as another revenue stream that has been denied the club since Ashley took over.

A potential warning to Mike Ashley from me would be a simple and pertinent one. Look down the road at S********d. With scary parallels to ourselves, it is a club that has been ran badly, managed badly and has consistently recruited badly.

After keeping them in the Premier League for three years, the second we dropped out and cut off a sizeable points total for them, they too got themselves justifiably relegated last season. Whereas we bounced straight back, it’s looking highly unlikely they will be playing Premier League football for the rest of this decade or longer.

Mike Ashley needs to think on that, there is a fine line between what we did and the way that the mackems have gone. Whatever value Ellis Short had in mind for his club will have been vastly different a year ago than it is today and if they drop another league (which is looking very real) then it will probably not be even worth him selling it. I

In the space of two years a club worth £300m+ can fast become a club worth way less than £100m if a deal is not struck at the right time, or proper investment isn’t ploughed in.

The investment which will be required to get a club out of League 1 and into the Premier League will be astronomical and could take 10 years to actually achieve. Even getting back up from the Championship without the right manager, can cost a fortune and not work, ask Aston Villa fans.

In the meantime, we as fans have to just continue supporting the manager and whoever takes to the field, and hope that work behind the scenes goes on and this club is sold.

It’s clear Ashley has had enough and won’t put in anywhere near the amount required to get Newcastle comfortably top half and unfortunately that’s his right. But if he doesn’t want the hassle and still wants to get a sizeable amount for his asset, he had better be prepared to sell it for a fair and just amount, as the risk of what could happen might once again cost him through his own greed and pig-headedness.
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