Mike Ashley has taken a very hands-off approach with Newcastle United for some time, at least visibly anyway.
The last time he was sighted at St James Park was the opening day of the 2017/18 Premier League season, when Spurs won 2-0.
However, he and his people are clearly busy behind the scenes, with a Mike Ashley statement released after the final whistle of the Chelsea match, whilst Ashley chose too put up Lee Charnley for his first interview in three and a half years.
Although even that was closely controlled, with journalists banned from asking questions on most topics, Charnley tasked with pushing the Mike Ashley line on the recently made public 2016/17 Newcastle United accounts.
Those Championship season accounts were put forward in such an over the top way by the club, that they have attracted more scrutiny than normal by various very good football finance analysts.
With the full 2016/17 Newcastle United Accounts able to be seen online at Companies House, football finance expert Kieran Maguire was one of those to go over the accounts in very fine detail.
Kiaran Maguire lectures in football finance at Liverpool University and also has his own Price Of Football website, he has now spotted a very interesting previously unhighlighted detail.
Back in the 2014/15 NUFC Accounts, the club was committed to paying at least £713,000 in future minimum lease payments under non-cancellable operating leases.
The latest accounts now showing that figure has grown to a massive £55,476,000, as Kieran Maguire says, it would be ‘interesting to find who is the landlord’ that the £55m+ is due to, money that the club is committed to paying in future years, no matter who owns it…
“One final mystery on the Newcastle United accounts is in relation to rent they appear to be paying for some land.
“Rent cost was £630,000 last year and it’s a non-cancellable agreement costing the club a further £55 million in future years.
“Be interesting to find who is the landlord…
“If I was a possible new owner and being asked to pay £400 million PLUS have this commitment for another 90 years I might take the advice of the #SistersOfMercy and ‘Walk Away’.”
Extract from 2016/17 Newcastle United Accounts:
Commitments under operating leases:
At 30 June 2017 the Group had future minimum lease payments under non-cancellable operating leases as follows:
Land and Buildings
Not later than one year £663,000
Between one and five years £2,599,000
After five years £52,214,000