Newcastle United players have now escalated their own conflict with Mike Ashley.
Having refused to talk to the media (including the club’s own…) after each of the last two friendlies, the squad have now collectively upset Sky Sports.
The players were due to do their ‘walk up’ shots for the TV companies, Sky Sports included, today.
However, they declined to do so because Mike Ashley is refusing to agree to pay the going rate in terms of bonus payments for the coming season.
This isn’t the first time it has happened, as back when Chris Hughton was managing the team, Mike Ashley did the same. Hughton supported his senior players who were in conflict with the owner and it was claimed at the time that Ashley made a pledge to make sure that these senior players and manager would be removed from the club as soon as possible.
Sure enough, Hughton was removed despite leading the team to promotion on 102 points and having the side safely in PL mid-table, whilst Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and others, were also quickly dispatched.
Last summer saw exactly the same situation, agreement only reached a month into the season in mid-September.
Obviously realising what they are up against this time, the Newcastle United players have chosen to get their retaliation in early. Hopefully Sky Sports are on the phone to Ashley’s PR poodle Keith Bishop giving them grief.
Most journalists who cover Newcastle United, including Keith Downie who covers NUFC for the broadcaster, are taking a neutral stance and just publishing the story, or sympathetic to the players as we hit the latest Mike Ashley behaviour that is to the detriment of the club.
Handily, Richard Keys has been kind enough to provide the other stupid and predictable (for him) point of view, talking about how much players get anyway etc etc.
How much players do and don’t get is irrelevant, what is relevant is whether Mike Ashley is willing to pay the going rate, what players can expect at other clubs.
Newcastle’s squad is certainly not in the top half of best paid PL squads and funny how we never hear of other PL club owners being stupid enough to ensure there is conflict with the team only days before the season kicks off.
As for Richard Keys talking about ‘going on strike’, this isn’t refusing to play football, simply exercising their right not to do media stuff. Which I doubt upsets any decent Newcastle fan.
Rafa Benitez and this squad of players have shown plenty of times they are prepared to go the extra mile when it comes to helping the community, whether it is with the club’s own charity (NUFC Foundation) or other community initiatives such as the Foodbanks.
“Newcastle United’s players have withdrawn cooperation with the media as part of a dispute with the club over bonuses for the upcoming season.
“The players refused to give their time for “walk up” shots for TV companies at the training ground today.”
Craig Hope of The Mail:
“Details from last night of NUFC players threatening not to fulfil media commitments with rights-holders amid bonus dispute with Mike Ashley.
“Today they have followed through with that threat & refused to do pre-season shots for broadcasters.
“What a mess.”
“Newcastle players on strike over bonuses?
“Win bonuses. Isn’t it their job to win games?
“I’m told Cup bonuses are really good – so win a Cup. It’s time somebody did at St James’.
“Most PL players earn an average annual wage every week. Some a lifetimes’ money.”