Estate Agent:- ‘So Mr Ashley, why do you want to sell your house?’
Mike Ashley:- ‘Well, to tell you the truth, I’ve had a few problems.
‘I’ve been meaning to underpin the foundations for a few years and now it’s causing the property to subside quite a bit.
‘It also needs some double glazing that the tenants (that I can’t stand by the way) keep moaning on to me about.
‘And I’ve ploughed money into some other property elsewhere because I don’t really care about this one. I’ve also hung some advertising on the side of the building that gives me benefits but annoys the tenants.
‘I’ve got this cracking (team/squad) builder, who I’ve been less than honest with in the past, but I’m refusing to give him the money to do the property up until he signs a contract promising he’ll do the work.
‘Oh and I’m being pressured by councillors because they don’t think I’m a fit and proper landlord and show the neighbourhood in a bad light.’
I can see the estate agent relishing selling that house and people flocking to pay a premium for it . .
Maybe it’s becoming a bit of a hassle for him?
Maybe he sees that this season could be a tipping point, where lack of investment will finally deal the club too savage a blow?
Maybe Ashley is looking to sell just at the right time for him before the whole thing comes crashing down?
After all, it’s better to get (a new reported asking price of) £300m now than let the club drop into the Championship, lose Rafa Benitez and some of the better players, and risk that figure halving itself.
Quite possibly the excellent pressure applied on his retail empire has worked and that last week’s shenanigans at the S….. D….. AGM have been another straw on the camel’s back. Once shareholders start telling you that maybe all this negative press, that you’ve been the sole cause of, is not good for the company, even if you’re the majority shareholder, you are obliged to listen. Even if you’re as stubborn, greedy and belligerent as Mike Ashley.
On the other hand there are reasons not to believe the club is to be sold. The main one is that nobody selling something, tells people what they want for it, for if they do, the price drops.
If you state that the club is up for sale for say £300m, any potential buyer would surely go in lower. If a house is put up for sale at £100k, anybody in their right mind would test the water at £90k or even less, knowing that you probably won’t get it for that but after some bargaining you will make a bit of a saving to spend on the carpets or the furniture. If the roof needs fixing then that adds scope to negotiate the price down and it’s obvious to anyone that the Newcastle United ‘house’ needs some considerable work doing to it. After all: strikers, full backs, training grounds and academies don’t come cheap.
Mike Ashley also has the pressing matter of Kevin Keegan to once again contend with. Early next month his book comes out and I’m sure it will contain a few juicy morsels of information on his constructive dismissal from the club in 2008. What better time for Ashley and his minions to, oh I don’t know, take some heat off the situation by releasing a story about something, like say a possible takeover? He’s been pulling stunts like this for years.
As recently as last Winter, the club was supposedly on the brink of a takeover, £300m-350m was the estimate (sound familiar?) only for no deal to be agreed, no money spent in January and minimal/no funds available for the following summer. An ingenius way to keep the £100m+ TV money every year isn’t it?
So for the time being, I’d take any rumour of a potential takeover with a huge pinch of salt. It won’t happen for the £400m+ figure that was bandied about last year and as he’s a greedy businessman, he won’t want to sell it for too low either, so a price of £300m and upwards sounds about right. That is probably where the club finds itself value wise.
The message is simple, keep ramping up the pressure at the owner’s tat shops and their subsidiaries anyway. The heat is on and despite what his PR may think and say, it’s having an effect.
A final word from Kevin Keegan:
“I look forward to the day when Newcastle is free of the man who has lurched from one bad decision to another, run an empire of self-harm and handed money and power to people who deserved neither.”
Amen to that. Mike Ashley is a parasite that once rid of, the club stands a chance of succeeding. While he’s here, it doesn’t.