Mike Ashley and his running of Newcastle United is an emotive subject.
Newcastle fans make countless points about why these last eleven years have been such a disgrace.
However, there is a small but determined bunch who are keen to oppose these points of view.
People such as Richard Keys, Andy Gray, Dennis Wise, whoever is responsible for giving Wise a free unopposed platform on Sky Sports, Shola Ameobi, Rio Ferdinand, Simon Jordan, as well as journalists such as Andy Dunn (The Mirror) and Martin Samuel (The Mail).
As fans we know where we are coming from but what do this bunch above base their arguments on?
Well, what it comes down to is that they pretty much repeat what Mike Ashley has said and present that as proof that the owner is doing his best by the club.
Bottom line then is that their arguments stand or fall on whether Mike Ashley is telling the truth…
Mike Ashley says he has been trying to sell Newcastle United for the last 10 years.
(If your neighbour has had his house up for sale for 10 years and it is still unsold, whilst everybody else who has put their house up for sale in the street in the meantime have sold theirs – would you believe he/she was genuinely trying to sell it?)
Mike Ashley says he has given Rafa Benitez ‘every penny’ to spend on players.
(BT Sport presented the figures, since promotion in May 2016 the net spends have been: Brighton £110m, Huddersfield £78m, Newcastle United £1m, this despite Newcastle actually having far higher revenues than the other two promoted clubs)
Mike Ashley says he will give Rafa loads more money to spend if only he signs a new contract.
(Yes the promises on transfer funds really stood up to scrutiny these past four transfer windows…)
Mike Ashley says that it is all Rafa’s fault for the problems at the club because he (Ashley) has never had an invite to watch a training session.
(Yes, obviously the owner always received an invite first from Pardew, Carver, JFK, McClaren when he used to turn up in his helicopter at the training ground)
Mike Ashley says he isn’t even allowed to watch the football team play, that he owns, because the manager hasn’t said it is ok to do so.
(Yes, the reason Ashley never goes to matches now is because Rafa Benitez doesn’t allow it.)
Mike Ashley says nothing bad that happens at the club is his fault because he doesn’t interfere in how it is ran.
(Obviously it is only mischief when people suggest that Ashley is very hands on at NUFC via the likes of his shadowy minions Justin Barnes and Keith Bishop, who it is alleged pull all the Newcastle United strings on his behalf.)
Mike Ashley says Lee Charnley is totally in charge at Newcastle United.
(The last available accounts show Lee Charnley as the very lowest paid named highest earning senior Director/Executive at any Premier League club, with Sunderland’s getting paid more than four times as much and Charnley earning less than 3% of what one rival CEO/MD gets.)
Mike Ashley says changing St James Park to the Sports Direct Arena, with no money paid by SD to NUFC, was just to help try and find a new (paying) stadium sponsor.
(Yes,this is what any normal club does…Uses the stadium to promote his other businesses for nothing rather than getting companies to bid for naming rights.)
Mike Ashley says (a note in the official 2014/15 NUFC accounts) Sports Direct will now start and pay a market price for the so far free massive advertising and promotion given to SD by Newcastle United.
(No sign of this commitment/promise being followed up with action in the following years…)
Mike Ashley says that the big problem is that he can’t compete with sovereign states who own football clubs.
(How indeed can you compete with clubs in the transfer market who are owned by sovereign states, you know, such as Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Burnley, Brighton, Fulham, Wolves, Watford, Crystal Palace, Leicester, Southampton…?)