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National journalist admits he misled readers in Mike Ashley article – Small victory for Newcastle United fans

10 months ago
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Martin Samuel is a serial offender when it comes to writing articles that are pro-Mike Ashley and ridiculing Newcastle fans for their desperate efforts to try and see the back of him.

On Tuesday he delivered his latest bunch of nonsense in The Mail and I wrote yesterday (see below), pointing out where he was absolutely wrong.

Whether he was misleading readers on purpose, or whether through simple laziness, only he knows.

However, on this occasion it is a small victory for Newcastle fans.

A grudging (hidden away) correction has been published by the newspaper, with Martin Samuel/The Mail admitting that people were misled with fake facts.

This is the part they have owned up to that was 100% wrong (although they could have gone further – see below), followed by their almost apology.

The Mail – 13 August 2018:

Ashley’s Newcastle takeover in 2007 was also the answer to a financial crisis.

The reason the club were on the market was that Sir John Hall and the Shepherd family had run up short-term debts of £70m and recorded substantial further losses.

Hall had been trying to sell his stake for three years and Ashley paid off £76m in external debts.

This is included along with further interest-free loans in the £144m total debt the club currently owes to Mr Ashley.’

The Mail – 15 August 2018:

An earlier version of this article suggested that Mike Ashley paid off £144m in external debts when he purchased Newcastle United in 2007.

In fact, he paid off £76m and this is included along with further interest-free loans in the £144m total debt the club currently owes to Mr Ashley.’

This is what I wrote yesterday:

The Mag – 14 August 2018:

‘Serial offender national journalist at it again backing Mike Ashley with Newcastle United ‘facts’ that are not true’

It is quite amazing how many journalists think they know all about the issues at Newcastle United with Mike Ashley, without having to actually do any proper research.

Or alternatively, even worse, writing stuff that they know is untrue but which makes for a better story.

Newcastle fans have been on the receiving end from Martin Samuel before, a West Ham fan who writes for The Mail.

Somebody who thinks he is an authority on Newcastle United despite being at the opposite end of the country and clearly not doing any research as outlined above, or deliberately writing fiction.

Martin Samuel claims that Mike Ashley paid off £144m in external debts when he bought Newcastle United, it is simply not true.

Ashley has £144m as the total debt owed to him by Newcastle United now but some of that has been added in the meantime due to his reckless unambitious running of the club, which has led to two relegations.

As for the debts which were paid off when Mike Ashley bought the club, they were simply part of the price of buying the club. In other words, if these debts hadn’t been thee to be paid off, then he would have had to pay that much more on the purchase price.

It is simply ridiculous to claim that Ashley didn’t know about the major amounts that were outstanding.

The biggest one being a £45m mortgage that was being paid off year by year (due to finish in 2016) to pay for the St James Park redevelopment. This became payable on demand if the club was sold, there is no way Mike Ashley and his people didn’t know this debt existed when buying NUFC. The same with the money still owed on players bought by the Hall/Shepherd regime, these amounts are prominent in every club’s accounts each year, as well as the money still owed to them on players sold in instalments.

What is also laughable is that Martin Samuel makes it out to be as though Mike Ashley was riding to our rescue, rather than as his advisors told John Hall, because he knew it was an ideal asset to help him promote Sports Direct around the World via the far reaching Premier League TV coverage.

As for that £45m mortgage that was owed on the money borrowed to turn St James Park into a 52,000+ stadium with massive corporate/conferencing facilities, even if you accepted this was somehow a debt Mike Ashley didn’t know about (even though he obviously did)….you are talking about him getting a massive modern new stadium for only £45m.

What would the owners of Arsenal and Tottenham have given to only be paying that for a modern new stadium? Everton want a new stadium and that will cost the best part of half a billion the last time I looked.

Martin Samuel claims Mike Ashley first put the club up for sale in 2009 ‘when a compensation claim from Kevin Keegan was considered to have endangered the club’s future.’

Not true again, it was in 2008 after Kevin Keegan’s departure and Newcastle fans demonstrated against him, when Ashley claimed he was first wanted to sell. A load of rubbish of course anyway, as clearly he was just trying to dilute the protests by pretending he was trying to sell Newcastle United.

As for Kevin Keegan to have ‘endangered the club’s future’, that is laughable. As the independent panel/tribunal found, Keegan had been constantly lied to by Mike Ashley and his cronies and had been constructively dismissed. Once again it was Ashley if anyone, who was endangering the club, not Kevin Keegan.

The biggest laugh of all though is Martin Samuel defending Mike Ashley by saying that he would sell the club if only he could find a buyer.

Imagine you live in a street of 20 or more houses and over the course of the last 10 years, a dozen or more have been sold.

However, your next door neighbour has had his house up for sale for these entire last 10 years but has failed to sell it.

Would you think…

What dismal luck the poor bloke has had over these last 10 years, or….

Obviously he has no real intention of selling and is just messing people about and/or got it priced way over what it is worth

These last 10 years have seen the majority of major clubs in England change hands, either sold in their entirety or new investors take major stakes, often controlling ones.

When looking up some info on other clubs for this article/response, ironic to see that in light of Martin Samuel making a big thing of Mike Ashley paying off NUFC external debts as though it was some generous act, it turns out that when Sullivan and Gold bought into the club he supports, West Ham in 2010, as part of the deal they also agreed to take on £120m of debt from the previous owners.

Owning Newcastle United suits Mike Ashley just fine and he derives massive benefits from it, just look at how his figures on the rich list have increased since he bought Newcastle United. The football club is a key factor in promoting his retail empire.

He has no intention of selling and as I indicated above, if he really was trying to sell, how come all of these other clubs have managed to find a buyer  and yet Newcastle United supposedly can’t?

Martin Samuel writing in The Mail:

Ashley’s Newcastle takeover in 2007 was also the answer to a financial crisis.

‘The reason the club were on the market was that Sir John Hall and the Shepherd family had run up short-term debts of £70m and recorded substantial further losses.

‘Hall had been trying to sell his stake for three years and Ashley paid off £144m in external debts.

‘Indeed, for a club with such untapped potential, it is hard to think of a time in more than a decade when Newcastle hasn’t been for sale.

‘The first reports that Ashley was looking to cash in emerged in 2009 when a compensation claim from Kevin Keegan was considered to have endangered the club’s future, and he would certainly sell now for the right price.

‘It makes the angry entreaties to get out of Newcastle ever more ironic.

‘Ashley would: he just can’t find a buyer ready to take the chance he did 11 years ago.’

October 2009:

Kevin Keegan won £2m in damages after he was constructively dismissed by the club, Keegan having his case heard by the Premier League Manager’s Arbitration Panel.

The independent panel found in his favour against Newcastle United following his departure in September 2008.

The Tribunal condemned the club for lying in public statements about Keegan’s role.

Announcing its decision, the panel released a statement:

“We declare that Kevin Keegan was constructively dismissed by Newcastle United Football Club Ltd, for which Newcastle United Football Club Ltd must pay to Kevin Keegan damages in the sum of £2m plus interest to be assessed if not agreed.

“We are satisfied that Mr Keegan left the Club (i.e. resigned) because the Club sought to impose upon him a player, namely Gonzalez, whom he did not want, in breach of the term in his Contract which we have found entitled and required him to have the final say.

“This was his evidence, which we accept, and it is supported by the timing of his resignation.

“Mr Wise telephoned Mr Keegan and told him that he had a great player for the Club to sign, namely Ignacio Gonzalez, and that he should look him up.

“Mr Keegan tried to locate him on the internet but could find no reference to him.

“Mr Wise told him that he had been on loan at Monaco but having checked out the details, Mr Keegan was unimpressed and told Mr Wise that he did not think the player was good enough.

“Mr Wise then told him that the player was on “YouTube” and that Mr Keegan could look him up there but he found that the clips were of poor quality and provided no proper basis for signing a player to a Premier League Club.  Moreover, no one at the Club had ever seen him play.

“However, notwithstanding that he made it clear not only to Mr Wise but also to Mr Jimenez and to Mr Ashley that he very strongly objected to the signing of Mr Gonzalez (he was to be signed on loan with an option to purchase), the Club proceeded with the deal and the transfer was concluded the following day, on 31 August 2008.

“The Club did so, according to its witnesses who gave evidence before us, because it was in the Club’s commercial interests to do so.

“It was what the Club described as a ‘commercial deal’ by which the Club meant a deal which was in the commercial interests of the Club.

“The ‘commercial interests’, according to the Club, were that the signing of the player on loan would be a “favour” to two influential South American agents who would look favourably on the Club in the future.

“The loan deal cost the Club nearly £1m in wages for a player who was not expected to play for the first team but no payment was made by the Club to the agents in respect of the deal.”
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