Mike Ashley is a coward. He won’t attend games, won’t face investors, won’t take journalists’ questions and cancels fan forums. Who taught him hiding was the best policy? My guess – KBA PR.

I work as senior PR, contrary to popular opinion, most of us believe in behaving ethically. There’s a code good PRs follow and “no comment” or simply not returning a journalist’s call, is not an option.

But it’s Keith Bishop and KBA PR’s only trick.

I don’t hold with the idea that Bishop is a media puppetmaster.

As Mark Douglas of the Chronicle once wrote:

“…cards on the table here: from someone who works as a journalist covering Newcastle, it seems to me that Bishop’s influence over the Newcastle narrative is really fairly limited.”

When you understand that not so long ago Keith Bishop’s biggest clients were a Bay City Roller, an eighties page three girl and the former wife of an England manager, you know this is not an industry leader. Keith Bishop is z-list. More Loose Women than Newsnight.

But he’s far from the first person, way out of their depth, to benefit from a friendship with Mike Ashley.

To my mind, the Evening Standard’s former retail correspondent Simon Neville, is spot on:

“No other business or company I’ve covered has simply ignored all requests for comment, however bad the story might be, and I can’t imagine many financial PRs would recommend this as a strategy.

“However, it got me thinking which other parts of journalism does the ‘couldn’t be reached’ approach actually work?

“And then I remembered my time as a showbiz reporter.

“The tactic was regularly used by celebrities and their PR reps when they wanted to avoid a story being published. Saying ‘no comment’ to a story means you’re not denying it and, for most tabloid lawyers, that’s enough to publish.”

If it seems like a nifty trick to avoid headlines, there is a reason why those of us who believe in public relations don’t hide. We believe in the media. We believe in readers. We believe in our customers. If there is something we need to hide – then it’s something we need to fix. Publically owning your problems is often the first step to putting them right.

And knowing you can’t hide ultimately keeps you honest.

If Ashley had to front up on a regular basis he just might start to care what people thought a little more. He might think twice about cutting transfer budgets. He might be a little more transparent about Sports Direct perimeter advertising.

Don’t forget that the only Newcastle United employee regularly facing the press in an open forum is Rafa Benitez and frequently with Bishop standing over him. For what? So he can bill the club is my only guess. And with Ashley owning 51% of KBA PR, it’s yet more cash being pulled out of Newcastle United.

This week it came to light that KBA PR has reported Newcastle United fans to the Metropolitan Police, following negative online reviews.

Keith Bishop Agency:

‘The review clearly appears to be fabricated and inflammatory and it forms part of a larger negative campaign against Mike Ashley, Sports Direct, Newcastle United FC, KBA, of which the Metropolitan Police have been made aware.’

It’s an incredible step not, least because any decent PR would be turning around and telling the company – if that’s the perception of us, we need to work harder to change it.

Of course, Bishop has a few favourite contacts. Matt Hughes at The Times is clearly close to our owner. And it’s widely known that David Craig is/was a client. The rest, Wise, Keys, Gray, Ferdinand, Souness, assorted TalkSport goons etc – they’re just happy to be paid to repeat lazy stereotypes and keep in with a billionaire. Easy money – we’re all just fickle Geordies, right?

While the media has little sympathy for football fans, it was interesting to see the response when KBA PR tried ignoring House of Fraser customers.

Which Magazine said:

“The communication from House of Fraser has been atrocious.”

And they weren’t the only ones.

Ashley’s whole approach to communications has been shaped by Keith Bishop and his public relations company.

Never taking a call means never having to say you are sorry. Never facing fans means never being reminded of your own mistakes. It means you can appoint your mates or under-qualified family members and pay them millions. It means you can treat employees and customers like dirt.

It means never learning or improving.

Frankly, a far better FA test for potential football owners would be to make each one face twice-yearly press conferences, as managers do. If that means the game would lose oligarchs, sheikhs and Ashley, that would be fine by me.

To feature like Dennis Gardener submit your article to [email protected] and/or for more info go here



  • Kenny

    The Met have enough on their hands policing Murder City to worry about vermin like Bishop.

    • Ron

      Unless it’s to dish out medals to those responsible.

  • Leazes.

    Incredible…. Keith Bishop is truly a idiot of the highest order!

    I see his website is highlighting Rio Ferdinand who was obviously tapped up for Ashleys S**** D*****t advertising!

    Getting him to back the clown with half briefed preparation with downright untruths!

    Paying him for the advertising in the hope that the TV pundit would then be bought to the spin propaganda…..

    ….Didn’t work did it Bishop?

    • BanJones

      Great spot Leazes, I remember you mentioned it a while back. Despite the clubs he played for I always liked watching him play and think he is a good pundit but clearly hasn’t got enough money yet! Jeez how much do these people need?

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    It just goes to show you the type of people Ashley and who work for him are.
    Time and time again we are shown how lousy and pathetic they really are.
    It’s also a sign of the times where if you don’t like what people are saying, They are then threatened with legal action a la Lilly Allen.

    • Leazes.

      The people running United don’t seem to like United’s fans….. I always said Ashley’s driving force wasn’t greed but malevolence!

  • The Newt

    I logged in just to say bravo on a really good article.

    I’m sure the completely overstretched MET will drop the dozens of murder cases in London this year and immediately run to help millionaires like Bishop..!

    • Toontaff

      Are you pi$$ed as a………..

    • panther

      Sadly they probably will, stop them telling the truth it’s not fair they don’t believe my spin they’re supposed to be thick geordies

  • Tweed Mag

    Inevitable but desperate tactic by Bishop in the face of ever increasing pressure. Ashley might as well throw his money in the bin as oppose to paying KBA and his useless company. They have made matters worse for their client. BBC Sport have at last paid attention to what is going on and there is no response available to Toxic Ashley and his goons.

    • Leazes.

      Yes they have made things worse….

      ….but I believe that Bishop is still getting his central message (that the club is for sale) through to Douglas and Ryder who have bought it, and are repeating it!

      That is a problem for us because they are going to be his salvation despite the odd report that Ashley should go…. they are keeping the taxi meter running with no sign of the departure soon.

      Bishop has succeeded because Douglas Ryder and Starforth don’t wan’t to believe they’ve been duped by a PR Company!

  • Steve Smith

    Attempting to use the police to control the actions of your own people… It’s the behaviour of a despot.

  • kingfisher

    Check out the BBC sports website for a great video article on the state of N.U.F.C. George Culkin from the Times is one of the contributors. If any one still wants to go to S.J.P after watching this, then there really is no hope for the future!

    • Tweed Mag

      Its very good. They have no answer to it. Ashley’s name and brand are on a downward spiral and that is our best hope of getting rid of him.

      • The Postman

        Hope it’s on Football Focus tomorrow. It is very good

    • Leazes.

      That looks like an article for football focus tomorrow……

    • BigHairyDog

      How long before KBA attacks Caulkin?

    • Cockneytrev

      Just watched the video article, does anybody know if the BBC are putting that out on any mainstream channel?
      This needs to be seen by the people at the FA, PL and also the minister for sport and culture.

    • Wezza

      Good video that. Expect more PR to ‘put it right’
      They’re rattled, keep up the pressure. Sell up MA!

    • Toontaff

      The lass looks like she’s caught a whiff of something – maybe Newkie Broon belly pumps?
      Still people in Fun888 tops on the video………….

  • Waxi

    You really could not make this up. An owner who hates the club the fans and everything Newcastle. Time to go you FCB.

  • Ashley-out

    Bishop, Barnes, the Fat parasite, Helicopter down, pilot is the only survivor.

    • Leicester Mag

      Well if Sports direct were selling helicopters this would be a likely scenario

      • Kenny

        😁😁😁😁😁😁

  • Ashley-out

    If you go to St James Park, if you buy shirts off the parasite then you are part of the problem.
    Ashley out

    • Waxi

      I go every game and i like 49K others are not the problem it is the 125+ millions in tv money that is the problem. Our gate receipts would not even cover player wages so the FCB is only at the club to pick up his Sly tv money so if you subscribe to SLY SPORTS then your the problem.

      • Leazes.

        I think he’s trying to make those people who won’t get off their hands perhaps just think a little bit about their contribution…. conservatism doesn’t lend itself to change.

        • Waxi

          All these people having a pop when they will be sat at home watching Sly sports then come on here slagging off our own. We are not UNITED in any way and if we are going to get to the FCB and his gang we need to do it from inside SJP as well as outside. Yes buy nothing from the ground HOF Debenhams sports tat etc but slagging our own off on here is a bit much.

          • Leazes.

            I’ve cancelled Sky

          • Ron

            Never paid for any channels ever, only watch what’s free. Been to SJP once (as a guest) in 9 years, won’t go again until he’s gone. I’m desparate to take my daughter who’s 12 and never been, I feel like a failed parent.

            Will never pay to watch tv it’s ruining the game.

          • Leazes.

            You’ve saved about £9000….. console yourself that it went elsewhere

          • Ron

            …..and I’ve never smoked – why do I work?

          • Ron

            I’ll answer myself, whiskey and Brown Ale – bliss

          • Kenny

            I like a good Whisky

          • Ron

            or 2

          • Tweed Mag

            Ron, you should take your daughter to a match. No one, least of all Ashley, should deny a Geordie youngster the memories of their first visit to St James’. She is probably too young to understand exactly what that man has done to our club, but she will, in time. Until then, let her experience what it means to turn up with her Dad and support her team.

          • Ron

            You know I think I’ll do just that, you’re right why should the evil toewrag ruin another life.
            Thank you, ……..a lot.

          • Cockneytrev

            👍👍👍👍👍

          • Tweed Mag

            Spot on – enjoy it.

          • panther

            No he’s teaching her morals and fortitude somethings 52000 lack

          • Tweed Mag

            Shame you see it that way. In the end it is not our decision.

          • panther

            Ok you enjoy bending over

          • Tweed Mag

            Thanks for that, pleased you can support your opinion with well thought out debate.

          • Toon Arnie

            Yep same here. It’s a killer not getting Westworld with Virgin but there you go.

          • Kenny

            He is not the problem, you and 51,000 other people are.
            you just keep going & going as Ashley keeps taking the p1$$

          • Waxi

            Kenny i never said he is the problem. If anybody shops in any business owned by the FCB they are part of it and like wise the biggest funding stream for the FCB is the tv money. Are you trying to tell me only the fans that go to SJP are the problem then you need to wise up. Said it before which business would turn down 125+ million a year and the answer is none.

      • BigHairyDog

        Sports Direct take the gate receipts, just like the club shop.

        • Leazes.

          No they don’t…. it goes to his MASH account the parent company of both.

          • Kenny

            That means the Fat Rat gets it then

          • BigHairyDog

            Ticket sales for Magic Weekend were billed to Sports Direct, receipts from ticket sales were Sports Direct. How much Sports Direct charge or are charged to run the ticket office and the club shop needs to be revealed.

      • Kenny

        if you read a report from last month only 10 premiership clubs could survive without the TV money, Newcastle is not one of them.
        people don`t just get Sky to watch Newcastle, wise up.
        F1, Ryder Cup, Test Matches, the list is endless

      • 45709

        I agree that Ashley needs to go, he’s killed my passion for football, but to say having sky sports is part of the problem I find hard. I like F1, championship, golf etc… if my subscription money only went to MA then sure I’d cancel in a blink of the eye

      • jonas

        Ashley is THE problem. End of.
        Sky facilitate that, but they’ve already killed the games soul and I hate them for it but that’s not why we are the way we are.
        anything that facilitates it is part of the problem, taking boycotting off the table, I feel, facilitates it, though I can’t ever see it lasting in significant numbers.

      • Toon Arnie

        This is a really good point. If subscriptions were affected by massive cancellations and biased coverage of Mike Ashley was given as a reason when cancelling ( they always ask – I told them that ) then I think Sky may suddenly change their strategy. That was my personal protest as i don’t want to stop going to games and supporting the team although ultimately this may be the right thing to do if a co- ordinated boycott of a high profile televised game could be arranged. It needs everyone to take part though not just a few thousand.

        • Waxi

          Spot on Arnie.

      • nufcslf

        Sadly yes you are, but blind to the fact just like the fat c** t you finance. Time has and will continue to prove this.

        • Waxi

          Nope you are wrong. If we had to rely on gate receipts alone after wages and running cost the FCB would make a loss now which business could sustain a loss every year and that would be him gone. Now the fact he gets 125 million from sky every year what do you suppose keeps him at SJP. Sky are our problem and the sooner every NUFC fan dumps them the better.

          • Superdooperhooper

            It’s nothing to do with gate receipts and everything to do with upsetting sky and SD shareholders . Boycotting a high profile live TV game might just tip the balance and get ashley keen to sell . It has to be worth a try in my opinion

          • Waxi

            I agree totally with that Super.

          • phildene

            Unfortunately yes, you are still part of the problem by paying the fat man for your season ticket and another hypocrite who in all probability protest against Ashley then go to the match- unbelievable! As long as thousands keep turning up every home game, Sky will televise. Stop going, then Sky won’t find an empty NUFC stadium such an attraction. Simples

          • Waxi

            Just got back from the match and happy that i had the chance to let the FCB what i thought of him along with the thousands of others. Did he hear your voice Phildene NO. The sly money is the problem and the sooner you get that the better. If you don’t get the fact that when someone like you gives up another two are waiting to take your seat. Sly are the problem by giving the fat man 125 million every year and it is a hypocrite like you that give him that money for subscribing to Sly.

      • panther

        Wrong you are the problem

  • JohnnyH

    Bishop is an absolute bell end.
    Brought even more attention to himself with this latest piece of pantomime.

  • BigHairyDog

    Keith Bishop is another chancer, you only need to look at his website to see he operates on a false economy of truth. Some may say that’s what PR people do, creatively lying to switch a situation to their clients favour. The fact that they’re trying so hard, yet seem to be still swimming against the tide is proof the true fans are succeeding in getting to this supposedly thick skinned billionaire.

  • Leazes.

    Despite the seeming independence, KBA, it is in fact, the former registered name of Keith Bishop PR which is majority owned by S****D***t Media

    Bishop, Dave Forsey and Mike Ashley are listed as a directors and control it!

    The company is essentially a mouthpiece for Ashley.

    • Rabid Dog

      Also, if you look at the list of KBA clients you will notice that the lions share of them are SD / Ashley owned brands. The kind of thing people do to pad out what’s not there.

      • Leazes.

        He’s his own PR…. bizarre…. he’s trying to look independent of his own publicity.

        • Steve Smith

          He’s not even trying that hard, half the testimonials from “different” companies have Rebekah Walker’s name next to them!

          • Leazes.

            Really…. like the builders on checkatrade who give themselves five stars….. its a racket…… But I see the company did have overheads….

            ….. they’ve paid out about half a million each year to someone.

        • Kenny

          😂😁😂

        • Tweed Mag

          Maybes no one else will touch him.

  • Kenny

    The pressures building

  • jonas

    report these barstewards to the police for internal sabotage
    they have killed two revenue streams for the club (advertising hoardings and club shop, club merchandise).
    we have a situation were the manager and fans have to work against an owner destroying the club, a truly ridiculous situation, ridiculous that the FA, UEFA, the PL don’t see to mind one jot.

    • JohnnyH

      Amazing isn’t it, the FA investigate Rafa for referring to Andre Mariner as Andre Mariner, yet turn a blind eye to the stripping of assets and the deliberate destruction of a football club, that Is part of their own association.

    • phildene

      We were told to contact the club if we had a complaint by the PL after emailing them 3 times. I replied by reiterating facts I’d already sent and said complaining was useless and that’s the situation was way beyond that. I’m now still waiting for a reply to that response!

    • BigHairyDog

      THREE revenue streams, the ticket office is run by Sports Direct, people who bought tickets for Magic Weekend were billed by Sports Direct.

  • Big Hairy Man

    I’m sure that this will be high on the Metropolitan Police’s list of priorities.

    • foggy

      Probably be at number 3 on the list whilst following up on the latest stabbings will be at number 49

      • Leazes.

        Yes Murder, Grand embezzlement, Giving someone a one star rating in a checkatrade review.

  • Paul Patterson

    Negative PR would be bad for anyone, including Ashley and anyone would come out and attempt to put it right.
    The difference between ‘anyone’ and ‘Ashley’ is, Ashley doesn’t care about the Newcastle United brand and therefore couldn’t care less.

  • robbersdog

    Oh dear, the poor little darling. Have we hurt his feelings?

  • Wezza

    LOL.
    Reporting to the police for bad reviews?
    KB is rattled and has no more PR left to spin. Game over Bishop.

  • TheFatController

    Did Keegan have a 10 year ‘silence’ clause in his contract? Or was his contract nullified by the constructive dismissal ruling, and it’s coincidence his book comes out a decade later?

    Just wondering if Rafa has a silence clause in his contract should he leave at end of it?

    Imagine Rafa serialising the true goings on of his 3 years … we’d probably be in tears of frustration and futility

  • 1957

    There is / used to be a management development company in Durham called KBA run by a really nice guy called Keith Bell, let’s hope that company doesn’t get confused for Mr Bishop’s organisation.

    Unlikely you might think but remember when Steve Martin the actor/comedian was confused for the the referee/comedian with the same name

  • Down Under Mag

    Rattled. Desperate. Running away. … All of the above. Perhaps if THEY told the truth instead of fabricating facts that have been proven to be lies in a court of law then they wouldn’t have anythign to go by.

    If they report Newcastle fans for lying then does that mean we, the fans of NUFC, can report the likes of Wise, Souness, Gray and Keys to the police for lying as well?? Slippery slope!!!!

  • musicman2018

    So Ashley is laundering Newcastle United money through Keith bishop s PR company which Ashley owns 51 percent are Ashley has a good scam going, he wouldn’t get away with it at any other club but it’s ok to run Newcastle in to the ground.
    And this week it as emerged Man City owners wanted to buy Newcastle but Ashley didn’t want to sell, I’m sure Ashley whole point of buying Newcastle was to down size the club whilst sucking up all the clubs resources and promoting his pathetic company ITs TIME FOR A MASS boycott.

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Money laundering by syphoning off the clubs cash to his carious mini businesses to keep it ‘in house’.

    Hes had too long at the club because too many sat around kicking heels. The mess to unravel from that fat cuckoo will be a nightmare. In fact it might be what actually puts off new owners.