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Opinion

Mike Ashley PR people once again using same journalist to media spin on sale of club and transfers?

2 years ago
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A number of dubious media stories have come out in the last few days as the cold war between Rafa Benitez and Mike Ashley hots up in advance of transfer deadline.

Rafa isn’t shy of using the press himself, as he tries to get things done properly at Newcastle United.

However, when Mike Ashley and his PR sidekick Keith Bishop (pictured above) are on the move, they are simply looking to mislead and spin, to muddy the waters and confuse people. They don’t necessarily need to totally convince fans/public, it is enough to just put doubt there in many/most cases.

One person who has regularly ran stories on Newcastle United from an ‘informed’ perspective, is Matt Hughes at The Times.

Many times he has written stuff that appears to most Newcastle fans to have been fed by Ashley’s PR sidekick, one example you can see below.

Back in October 2017, backing up the idea that Mike Ashley was supposedly serious about selling Newcastle United, Matt Hughes claimed as fact that aside from Amanda Staveley’s group, Mike Ashley had ‘Three separate groups of potential investors conducting due diligence at Newcastle United.’

Most Newcastle fans have come to accept it is simply a lie that Mike Ashley has any intention of selling up, the owner gaining so many benefits from his ownership. Ashley has claimed a number of times NUFC is up for sale but clearly that hasn’t been the case, if he had been serious then the club would have been sold by now – it being 10 years since he first claimed Newcastle United was up for sale and he supposedly wanted out. If indeed there have been any approaches to buy, Mike Ashley has obviously priced the club out of any chance of selling.

If there had indeed been people seriously looking to buy last October and going so far as doing due diligence, according to Matt Hughes, why was there never any follow up(s) about why a sale hadn’t happened? If indeed three parties had been bothered enough to get to due diligence, they must surely have already known the ballpark figure Mike Ashley was asking, and to be seriously interested in buying the club. It is very far-fetched to then believe that all three interested bidders lose interest for no apparent reason.

The latest this weekend from Matt Hughes (Keith Bishop???), claims a reason for Rafa Benitez not getting any transfer budget, is due to Mike Ashley wanting to sell Newcastle United…

I think we have all heard this somewhere before.

Hughes claims that Ashley doesn’t want to commit to buying players by instalments, as every other club does, because then any sale  would see a buyer demanding the money still owed to be knocked off the selling price.

What a load of rubbish.

Money committed to transfers isn’t money down the drain (hopefully!), it is used to buy something that then becomes an asset of the club you are buying.

Take the example say of Liverpool, who bought Mo Salah for £35m last summer. Say if Liverpool still owe£15m or £20m now, would a buyer of their club be expecting to get it for cheaper overall now, because of money still owed on Salah? Not only the player’s value having increased in these 12 months but also what he has contributed in that time to make the club more valuable.

Similarly, go back to the days when Newcastle actually bought players, 22 years after the event and in these past 11 years Mike Ashley has still failed to even match the £15m that was paid for Alan Shearer. Back then, if Newcastle had sold Newcastle United in the weeks and months after buying Shearer, do you think a buyer would believe he’d be entitled to a discount because Newcastle still owed £5m or whatever on the NUFC legend?

Matt Hughes also claims: ‘To compound matters, Ashley has had little choice other than to accept fees for sales in instalments.’ This is rubbish, there is no reason why Mike Ashley (a billionaire just in case you have forgotten) couldn’t have insisted that say Fulham (also owned by a billionaire) paid all the money up front for Mitrovic. To get the deal done it might then have meant a sale price of say £18m or £20m instead of £22m, but no reason why that couldn’t have happened, it is purely Mike Ashley choosing that this is how things are done, he isn’t forced to do it.

No amount of PR spin via friendly journalists can convince otherwise.

The intention surely here is to put that bit of doubt in people’s minds, to get some thinking/believing that not allowing spending  on essential Rafa signings is somehow justified, or even a good thing as it will (supposedly) help the club to get sold.

Matt Hughes writing in The Times:

“Rafael Benítez’s difficulty in getting Newcastle United to spend significant sums in the transfer market this summer has been exacerbated by owner Mike Ashley’s insistence on paying all fees up front, which is highly unusual in the Premier League, where spreading payments over instalments is standard practice.

“Ashley is reluctant to follow this model because it could affect the club’s value in the event of a sale, with interested buyers likely to deduct any liabilities from their offer price.

 “To compound matters, Ashley has had little choice other than to accept fees for sales in instalments, leading to the unusual situation where Newcastle could make an accounting loss on player trading in this window despite agreeing to sell them for fees that will eventually bring in more than £40 million.”

The Mag – 7 October 2017:

There has also been claims that the NUFC stories emanating from The Times headquarters in London, are likely to be the work of Mike Ashley PR goon Keith Bishop feeding the story/stories to the London based journalist.

Matt Hughes writing in The Times:

“There are three separate groups of potential investors conducting due diligence at Newcastle United in addition to PCP Capital Partners, which is run by Amanda Staveley, who held informal talks with club officials at St James Park last weekend.

“Unlike PCP, the other interested parties have signed non-disclosure agreements and are pushing for a quick deal, ideally before the next Premier League TV rights package is completed in February, which they all expect to have an inflationary effect.

Mike Ashley, the owner, also wants a quick sale as he is keen to avoid an outlay in the January transfer window on an asset of which he is in the process of disposing, having conceded that Newcastle’s squad requires strengthening.”

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