Newcastle fans operating under the banner of The Magpie Group have released a new statement, revealing that a letter (read it below) has been sent to Mike Ashley.

This is a response to an open letter sent by Mike Ashley to Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media and Sport.

The Newcastle United having reacted to fans protests being aired in the House of Commons by Chi Onwurah, the Newcastle Upon Tyne MP who has St James Park within her constituency.

The Magpie Group statement and letter:

The Magpie Group responds to Mike Ashley’s open letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media and Sport.

The Magpie Group have written to Mike Ashley alleging that many of the statements contained in his recent letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport are misleading and misrepresent the current situation at Newcastle United as recently outlined by Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwruah in her petition to Parliament.

The letter from The Magpie Group highlights several instances where Ashley either does not portray the true picture of the situation at St. James’ Park or offers only a slanted view of the situation to its aim of obscuring Mr Ashley’s role in degrading the club. The Group’s letter has been copied to the Secretary of State and Ms Onwruah.

The Magpie Group notes that Mr Ashley’s letter was leaked to the press and recalls that under his ownership the club previously admitted in a tribunal that it repeatedly and intentionally misled the press, public and the fans of Newcastle United.

The Magpie Group is a network of Newcastle United supporters’ groups and individuals who have united to campaign for the club to support Rafa Benitez in his effort to improve the club.

It also believes that for the club to achieve its potential, Mike Ashley must leave the club following his continuous failing during his tenure to invest meaningfully in the club and its infrastructure.

Dear Mr Ashley,

Re: Letter to The Rt Hon Jeremy Wright MP in response to Chi Onwurah’s parliamentary petition.

As a network of Newcastle United supporters and Supporter Groups we are writing to you in response to your recent letter to the Secretary of State. Once again, you have misled the press, the public and the fans of our great club.

Your letter presents a wholly inaccurate assessment of your ownership and running of Newcastle United and, from start to finish, is full of inexact and misleading claims.

You state that Chi Onwurah made no attempt to “contact or engage with” you prior to the publication of her Parliamentary petition. Yet in her previous correspondence with you, when she invited you to Parliament to discuss the club – an offer you declined – you rebuffed all future contact, insisting that any correspondence be directed to Newcastle United Managing Director Lee Charnley.

You say that since acquiring Newcastle United Limited through the use of St James Holding Limited, you have provided the club with an interest free loan of £144m and also cleared the club’s debt of £76m. It is documented in the official club accounts that the £76m debt is included in the £144m interest free loan and not in excess of it as you have suggested. £58m of the debt inherited was to cover a mortgage to pay for the redevelopment of St James’ Park by the previous owners. This was the last time any significant redevelopment was undertaken at the ground. If the mortgage had remained in place that debt would have been cleared by now.

During your tenure as owner, the club’s debt has almost doubled, due largely to your mismanagement. It is worth pointing out that the original debt was accrued while challenging for titles, regularly playing European football and breaking the world transfer record. In 11 of the 13 years before you became owner, Newcastle United qualified for Europe.

In your 11 years as sole owner of Newcastle United, the club has suffered two relegations. The significant investments required to gain immediate promotion in the 2009-2010 and 2016-2017 seasons are a direct result of that incompetence. Through it all, you have continued to receive free product placement for your company around St James’ Park and in front of a worldwide television audience.

After deducting the £76m debt you inherited at the club, we are left with a total investment of approximately £68m which, over a 10 year period, equates to an average of £6.8m per year. Under the current Financial Fair Play rules clubs can make a loss of no more than £105m in a three year period, if underwritten by an owner with sufficient finances to be able to cover the loss.

As fans, we do not expect you to bankroll the club. In any case, you have made it quite clear that you have no intention or interest in doing so. That is your prerogative. But where we do hold you accountable is the promise, made on numerous occasions, that Rafa Benitez can have “Every last penny generated by the club” [5] . This summer, Newcastle United made a substantial profit in the transfer window. We ask you a simple question, Mr Ashley: where has the money gone?

We acknowledge the club’s role in regard to affordable ticket pricing over the past decade. However, we have also seen recent price rises of up to 20%, with some supporters asked to pay around £100 more this season. Geographically, we now have the most expensive season tickets north of Southampton, outside the top six clubs in England[6]. This may be insignificant to you but for a lot of us and our families, it is not.

You claim that Newcastle United’s training facilities have “improved significantly” during your stewardship, are “fit-for-purpose” and “very clearly do not have a negative impact on performance” given the team’s 10th place finish in the Premier League.

This is disputed by the current manager, as well as some of his predecessors. When the club announced plans for a “stunning new state-of-the-art training complex,” in October 2014, Joe Kinnear said the best players need the best facilities and that Newcastle United’s training ground would “rival any in Europe.” What happened to those plans?

Our concern is that you are treating our training facilities and players in the same manner that you have historically treated your Sports Direct warehouse and staff, which has been described as “spending a day at the Gulag” in an article in The Guardian Newspaper. [7]

You also make reference to the treatment of Sports Direct and associated companies’ staff. We do not condone harassment of any kind. We are a fully inclusive group with a set of goals for the betterment of Newcastle United. We do, however, note with interest reports from the BBC [8] and the Independent [9], which make reference to “accounts of worker mistreatment,” under your leadership of Sports Direct, “including staff being penalised for a short break to drink water and for taking time off work when ill.”

Finally, you have once again referred to yourself as “the pantomime villain” at Newcastle United. Perhaps, in your own mind, you are the hero of your own story, riding into town to save one of the biggest clubs in the world from financial ruin. But in sporting terms, a villain is exactly what you have been, beating supporters into submission, betraying legends, undermining managers, taking crass decisions that chip away at the reputation of the club and causing real harm to an institution which is deeply entrenched in the heart of the city and which means so much to our community. We are in total support of Chi Onwurah and her petition.

We would therefore politely request once again that you meet with us to discuss your running of the football club and to explain the erroneous points you have made in your letter.

Yours sincerely

The Magpie Group

cc Jeremy Wright MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport,

Chi Onwurah MP, Newcastle Central



  • Mike

    sorry its all well written but its not going to make an iota of difference to this leech

    • Carverlier football

      “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”

      They’re doing something – I applaud them

    • SuperDesHamilton

      That’s the spirit…

  • Billmag

    Now send a copy of this letter to every newspaper in the country.

    • Toonfen

      Retract response to SGM …. reply to Billlmag … Exactly Ashley out!

  • S.G.M.

    Who is the Magpie Group?

    • Toonfen

      Exactly! Ashley out!

    • SuperDesHamilton

      Me

    • Carverlier football

      I’m Spartacus!

      • Leazes.

        I thought you were Norwegian?

        • Carverlier football

          I think that was panther…?

    • Tweed Mag

      A gathering of right-minded, considerate fans with the club at heart.

  • Mrkgw

    A decent letter and credit to The Magpie Group for fighting for the cause. Good luck.

  • Wor Lass

    I can`t wait to listen to Merse go through this letter and destroy it point by point. He wouldn`t get past trying to read Chi Onwurah`s name.

    • Kneebotherm8

      Can Merson read?…….been tekkin lessons has he?…..

      • Carverlier football

        Well he can read numbers presented as fractions and understands the word “evens”…

      • SuperDesHamilton

        Does reading the alcohol percentage technically count as reading though?

        • Kneebotherm8

          😂😂

          • SuperDesHamilton

            Sitting trying to work out which is stronger, Ouzo or Terps.

  • Leazes.

    Very good but one little point of contention where you give him credit for the ‘Affordable Pricing’….. that followed two large scale walkouts of season ticket holders over the running down of the club….. if he hadn’t there would have been empty seats on show.

    A lot of people myself included could see exactly what he was doing…. those affordable seats were created on level 7 as a family section….. six thousand people had walked out! The tickets that were premium priced beforehand at £520 were now family tickets at one adult at £268 and two kids at £68 per season.

    NOT a GOODWILL GESTURE….. he filled the spaces as Sunderland had done virtually giving them away making the club less competitive!

    The stadium extension wasn’t needed to house them so the land was ‘stolen’ from the club by Ashley’s Property Concerns…. this isn’t the action of an owner going anywhere soon.

    IT IS THE ACTION OF A MALEVOLENT AND DESTRUCTIVE OWNER!

    ………………AFFORDABLE PRICING MY EYE!…………….

    …………………..THE COST IS THE SKY…………………..

    • Mrkgw

      Quite right iro the land. A crass and cynical move by an owner obsessed with making a quick buck whilst at the same time, sticking one in the back of supporters. Despicable.

      • justchampion

        I would like to know how this was ever approved. Surely as this has ramifications for years to come it should never have been given the green light.

        • Leazes.

          The board of Directors of the club has the responsibility to protect and secure the future of the Company, Charnley gives away free advertising, and land because that’s why he’s there…. there’s nobody inside the club protecting it!

          • Kneebotherm8

            Said it before and I’ll say it again…………we don’t have a board…..we’ve got a plank………singular…..

        • Mrkgw

          Backhanders I bet.

    • Ben Jones

      The fans are not being charged enough to enter St James according to Leazes, that’s right, Ashley is wrong for not charging the fans more. There’s literally nothing he can do without it being spun

  • SuperDesHamilton

    Fatty will be like the wicked witch from Oz this morning sending all his winged PR monkeys out to debunk & denounce this. Expect to see Werewolf hands, that queer little dwarf, big dopey Shola who collects hats & all his other sky minions now.

    Keep it up lads, great letter👍🏻 But you’ve just made Monkseatons hit list 😂😂

    • Kneebotherm8

      They’ll be oot the woodwork shortly……….just watch……

      • SuperDesHamilton

        Exactly! Omega alert this morning at Fat man HQ Bishop will be prepping the minions as we speak, he has a North Korean type cult of personality going on with the media

    • Kneebotherm8

      Aye, Ben Dover’s appeared………..as predicted……

      • Ben Jones

        Ahhh. Get in first, say “they’ll be along soon” and when someone appears, you’re right! Genius

        • Kneebotherm8

          Good to see you know your proper name anyway…..😂😂😂😂….

          • Ben Jones

            No no I was being ironic..

          • Kneebotherm8

            bring ironic?…….😂😂…..obviously went to the same school as Merson………..

          • Ben Jones

            Huh? It says being ironic. Clean your screen

          • Kneebotherm8

            Definitely bring………….hurry up…..use your edit button………quick…..

  • Tweed Mag

    Excellent. Clearly made points and facts. Ashley cannot answer without twisting and turning as part of another PR circus. No doubt the second-rate hacks, stooges and apologists will start nit-picking, but most people are now well aware of their tactics.
    Well done Magpie Group.

  • Damon Horner

    Much better idea than to shout abuse in the stadium or to just not go to games and effectively hand him the club.

    A poor or lack of response would be considered dismissive or provocative and justifies more protest rather than having a lack of mediation (or the motions of) and have us unfairly look like simple, demanding yobs.

  • TheFatController

    Obviously it’s in the interests of the apologists to make out that he doesn’t care so why bother ?

    Obviously it won’t do any good they’ll claim, and shame us (ever noticed how quickly they use the shame tactic?) that the rest of the country will just laugh at us.

    I know loads of football fans of all different clubs, they don’t really care about Newcastle but they do care about the regulation of owners.

    All of them fear getting an Ashley or Oyston. All of them.

    So no, they don’t laugh at us, they’re behind it becoming a political issue because they fear the money in the game attracting exploitative businessmen.

    Sports Redirect will be the thing to tip him over the edge – already reported in Scottish Sun, Talksport and Star today. Once HoF is disrupted, he’ll go beetroot. Even if it’s not major, he hates us and we’re getting to him, and he’ll be livid. He has had it all so easy for so long.

    There is such a thing as bad publicity. Keep up the good work.

    • Ben Jones

      Hahaha. He doesn’t care, why bother? Shameful

    • Leazes.

      It important that the laws are changed on Football club ownership…. they cant be looked upon as ordinary businesses, there has to be local input in their governance and ownership…. never mind ‘fit and proper’ tests lets democratise football and put an end the farce of multinationals and wealthy individuals buying titles as part of a marketing strategy!

      • Ben Jones

        Let me guess you won’t put in any money to the club to make it a democracy, you just want to tell the people who have put money in what to do?.

        Thought so, still no announcement of a takeover by the magpie group yet? Must be coming tomorrow…

      • Superdooperhooper

        It won’t happen anytime soon . The Tories are bankrolled by said wealthy individuals so they trot out phrases like free market economy and light touch regulation. Which means turning a blind eye while they do whatever they like . It’s going to need a change of government.

      • Carverlier football

        Maybe football clubs and organisations with similar community or heritage importance should be listed, like buildings. Ashley could buy a grade 1 listed building if he wanted but he couldn’t do whatever he wants with it – yet it seems he can with NUFC

  • joe mac

    be hoyed straight in his bin!…..he cares not one jot!

    • Leazes.

      No its going to Parliament, they are the intended recipient.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        I bet it doesn’t get posted

  • Ben Jones

    We don’t want a team that tries, we want a team that wins .

    Everybody….

    We don’t want a team that tries, we want a team that wins .

    • Martin Rooney

      I’d call their bluff and give them 10 years to pay the going rate with a going rate business bank loan approx 8%.
      See how many pennies there would be for belligerent players some of whom give as little a ++++ and don’t want to be here so much they get sent off after 20 minutes of football.

      • Ben Jones

        Quite but they’d bankrupt the club in 3 years with their ‘ambition’ . ‘Just give the lad what he wants, he’s a quality player’

  • Hughie_Gallacher

    An excellent letter. Let’s see if the media give it weight equal to that they gave Ashley’s pack of lies.

    • Monkseaton Magpies

      It’s not an excellent letter the debt was £148m when he took the club over.
      Not only have the Magpie group not bought the club yet they cannot read accounts.

  • robbersdog

    He’ll just chuck that letter into the pub fireplace that he vomits into.

    • Ben Jones

      It’s what I would do

      • panther

        id light the fire first then chuck you in

        • Ben Jones

          With them weedy arms? Behave!

          • panther

            I’ll get the Newcastle fans to help, troll

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          Yeah, that’s what I’d do as well.

      • Blackandwhite9

        Good morning Benjamin, how are you today, do you get time and a half on Saturday ? Or is it just still minimum wage? Are you watching the game today or does Mikey boy not give you access to electrical appliances … keep up the work Benjie boy … that wonga loan will get paid off eventually

        • Ben Jones

          Yeah man time and a half. No mate, no access to electrical appliances, infact these posts are being made by pigeon, yes only 3 years of the wonga Ioan left, wouldn’t have taken it out if it wasn’t for my football team advertising it, anything for money eh!

      • nufcslf

        You f**king would. Try not trip and follow it in, there’s a good boy……

        • Ben Jones

          Will do!

    • Leazes.

      No its going to Parliament, they are the intended recipient.

  • Leicester Mag

    Whether it’s the premier league or the FA this should be used to challenge Ashleys status of a fit and proper owner. One day his hubris will be his downfall. Maybe HOF may be his Waterloo. Only taken a week to riss off staff /suppliers/ delivery partners and customers

  • LEE

    FANTASTIC LETTER.

    to bad we have everything against us, from FIFA to our own fans. if you have the money, you have the power.
    these make the rules but never abide by them.

    • Leazes.

      The owner, the Chairman and half a dozen Journalists isn’t everything….. he’s one man who pays people to support him…

      …….WE ARE A CITY!

      • LEE

        TO BAD WE ARE NOT UNITED,

        then we might do something.

  • panther

    good letter, shame its going straight in the shredder

  • GlasgowMag

    Great letter which basically challenges the constant lies spun by this hideous regime. Just looked at the chron expecting at least a mention of the letter but not even a an acknowledgement shocking!!! Who actually owns this rag these days as you would think being a local paper they would also be challenging the lies and putting more pressure on the regime for more clarity!! Just like the fans the Chron should also join the fight to get rid of this workhouse owner so what’s holding them back has Ashley also got them in his back pocket like the rest of the national press!!!

    • Ben Jones

      If it was me I’d tell them as soon as they started posting sh|te then they’re oot!

    • Leazes.

      Look at the BBC Look North they’ve blocked out the protests presumably on the say of their Political Editor Mark Denten.

      • Mrkgw

        Is it any surprise with that snowflake ridden media outlet? They report as they wish us all to see things rather than exposing the facts. It pains me to pay a fee in order to prop up that awful channel.

        • Jonas

          Agree with that.
          free, fair and impartial are the last three words I’d associate with that network.

    • Superdooperhooper

      The chronicle is owned by mirror group newspapers now so is just a small cog in a big machine . It’s lost it’s voice as a local independent paper

      • GlasgowMag

        That makes sense as they pay the fatboy for access, no wonder they are frightened to challenge him!!

  • Wezza

    Great letter but I can bet MA won’t be reading it. This whole debt lark is an excuse and creative accounting to make millions off us. Disgrace. Get out of our club!!

  • The Newt

    Decent letter but it misses out a lot. When you talk about ‘harassment of employees’, is there anything more disgusting than the treatment of Jonas? Treatment so bad that it ended in (another) court case against Ashley by an NUFC employee…

  • Rob Brown

    By what stretch of what feeble imagination was Ashley’s letter in any way open?

    And how does the Magpie group suddenly acquire the right to challenge it in any way?
    If this happened anywhere else the immediate response would be WTFs it got to do with you?

    They’ve totally lost it.

  • nufcslf

    Shame it wasn’t a letter bomb. About the only way he would give a sh*t about any kind of letter. [email protected]

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      It’s an open letter to an MP. Open letters are usually self indugenin nonsense but an open letter bomb would by nature wipe out a lot of people.

  • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

    There was an article about a year ago by the best author on the Mag pages. It opened “Open letters are, as anyone knows, an opportunity for the author to demonstrate just how self-important the author considers him/herself to be” open letters are usually nothingnmore than a “private gripe masquerading as a proactive public announcement which will be rightfully ignored by just about everyone.”

    This magpie Group’s letter is firmly in the tradition of open letters.

  • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

    The letter is littered with errors and anyone who references an article from the Guardian has lost the plot.