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KPMG withdraw embarrassing PR statement backing Mike Ashley

4 years ago

An embarrassing PR statement, dressed up as an article, was put out by KPMG in support of Mike Ashley.

The ‘article’ appeared on the KPMG Football Benchmark website.

No author’s name appeared on the piece and it all seemed a little strange as to why they had decided to put this write up on their site.

The PR statement/article was exceptionally amateurish and poor, so badly researched and paying only a passing resemblance to the truth/facts, it looked more like something the combined talents of Richard Keys and Dennis Wise would have produced, rather than one of the world’s biggest and most respected auditing specialists.

As the PR statement/article was quickly taken apart by Newcastle fans and neutrals alike, KPMG failed to respond to questions asking why it had been put up and also requests to back up the claims made.

Instead, the PR statement/article has now been withdrawn by KPMG with no explanaton.

KPMG may have removed the offensive piece and hope to make it disappear but these are some of the key extracts from it:

‘For a club that plays its football in black and white, perhaps it is appropriate that Newcastle United haven’t won the English league title since the 1920s. The 91 years of waiting for a repeat of the episode have not, though, dulled the belief among fans that they should be challenging for honours every season.’

(Haven’t won the league before pretty much any of us were born, yet Newcastle fans think ‘they should be challenging for honours’…really, really? Who are these fans he speaks of?)

Mr Ashley is not a public speaker, so the frequently-negative narrative tends to continue unchallenged. He did make an appearance towards the end of last season, using the occasion to announce he will make all funds the club generates from within its own resources available for transfers.’

(Mike Ashley IS a public speaker when he chooses to be, especially when Sky Sports give him an unchallenged opportunity to put out propaganda. As for ‘unchallenged’, his PR people are constantly trying to distort the truth on his behalf. Also, how exactly have ‘all funds’ being made available for transfers when Newcastle made a £20m+ profit on deals in and out this summer?)

Newcastle United are for sale, with Mike Ashley said to be looking for between £200m and £300m to sell.’

(Very few Newcastle fans accept that Mike Ashley is genuinely willing to sell the club, with it having allegedly been up for sale these past 10 years. Even if it is though, every man and his dog knows that £400m is the minimum much publicised price tag. Backed up by the likes of George Caulkin of The Times who has seen the written bids put forward by the Amanda Staveley led bidders.)

‘Newcastle’s average finishing position over the 71 post-War seasons is 15.14. That puts them on average three places above the relegation zone: far closer to the drop than to the top.’

(With statistics, you can use them to mean pretty much whatever you want. This stat also conveniently ignores the fact for most of those 71 seasons there was actually 22 not 20 clubs in the top tier. If you are claiming what happened in the 1940s is relevant to now, why not the decades beforehand?)

Despite the reduction in broadcast revenue that came with relegation to the Championship in 2016-17, match-day revenue consisted of only 27% of the club’s turnover – £23.4m of the £86m total revenue. In 2015-16 it was only 20%, or £24.7m. Any new owner might see significant increases in ticket prices as a means of generating revenue, without which there is not a great deal of flexibility for further investment.

(Mike Ashley himself has said that growth in commercial revenue is Newcastle’s big hope of competing and yet the commercial revenue after over a decade in charge is no higher than when he took over in 2007! As for talking about that matchday revenue, no mention of all that in the Championship season, NUFC averaged 51,000+ crowds and their matchday revenue was almost two and a half times higher than any of the other 22 clubs)

Mr. Ashley is often criticised on social media and radio phone-ins for his lack of “ambition”. But this, in truth, is synonymous with debt. Other clubs whose ambitions grew beyond their means have suffered terribly for it. Leeds United fuelled their run to the Champions League semi-final in the 2000-1 season with unaffordable debt. Three years later they were relegated from the Premier League, without since having returned. Nottingham Forest (£6.2m matchday revenue in 2016/17), Sheffield Wednesday (£9.8m), Aston Villa (£10.7m): all are big clubs of similar, or even better, history and stature to Newcastle, yet all have been lost to the Premier League for extended periods, owing to their having tried and failed to generate the funds required for a successful and sustainable return to the top division.

(If you are going to go down this route in comparing us to failing clubs who have been mismanaged, why not point to the spectacular success of Leicester on and off the pitch, or how small clubs such as Bournemouth and others are massively outspending and outperforming Newcastle? Plus, fans want Newcastle United simply to spend the money they generate, not necessarily go into debt, and they believe far more revenue could be generated under new owners.)

The difference between those clubs and Newcastle is that they do not benefit from an owner like Mike Ashley. His commercial decisions, such as making the club synonymous with his Sports Direct chain and for taking sponsorship from the payday-loan usurer Wonga, have proved controversial on Tyneside. But these are the deals that pay the bills. Our KPMG Football Benchmark data analysis shows that during 2015-16, their last Premier League season for which data are available, Newcastle had the eighth-highest commercial income in the Premier League, externalising revenues pretty well.

(See above, giving Ashley credit for the commercial income level, when it is no higher than back in 2007 is quite amazing. As for the benefits with Sports Direct, it is SD who take all the benefits for FREE! As for linking us with WONGA, a moral and disastrous business decision, plus plenty other potential sponsors out there.)

Though choosing not to spend extravagantly on individual signings – Michael Owen’s £16m arrival from Real Madrid in 2005-6 remains the Magpies’ transfer record – Mr. Ashley should not be criticised for his financial input. And over the past 10 years, Newcastle have certainly spent their fair share on transfers.

(Where are the figures to back this up?!!! If I remember correctly, an average net spend of £2.6m per season during Ashley’s reign.)


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