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Mike Ashley hits back at Kevin Keegan using regular offender from The Times

8 months ago
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Kevin Keegan has been making all the headlines.

His new upcoming autobiography is out on 4 October and extracts have been published in The Times as tasters.

Both Newcastle fans and neutrals have lapped it up.

The disgraceful way Mike Ashley has ran the club, and the not fit for purpose clowns he has employed (with rare exceptions), all laid out by Kevin Keegan.

Keegan of course has just been reinforcing the truth that 99% of Newcastle fans already know/accept, as is the case with any reasonably informed outsider.

There was of course always going to be a fightback/retaliation from Mike Ashley and his shameless minions.

Ashley turned up on Saturday at a Newcastle match for the first time in 13 months, it wasn’t coincidental, he is saying he isn’t going anywhere and is going to try and brazen it out, as always.

Confusingly for a lot of Newcastle fans, is that Ashley’s PR goons have managed to use The Times to start this fightback against Kevin Keegan and the Newcastle fans.

With it being The Times that are publishing the Keegan extracts, people will wonder why they are willing to accommodate Mike Ashley?

The Times of course have no collective rigid editorial line on Newcastle United (not everybody is George Caulkin!) , they will simply publish whatever sells papers.

It also helps of course that The Times have somebody who is a serial offender when it comes to pro-Mike Ashley coverage, propping up the NUFC owner (see below).

Matt Hughes is Deputy Football Correspondent at The Times and now he has given Tony Jimenez a platform to try and have a go at Kevin Keegan, just look at some of the nonsense below and gauge who you believe.

What also really sticks out for me is that Dennis Wise and Tony Jimenez were appointed by Mike Ashley weeks after Kevin Keegan was given the job, yet Jimenez says they were theer at the heart of the Keegan interview process.

Like everything else at Newcastle under Mike Ashley, it stinks.

Matt Hughes talking to Tony Jimenez in The Times:

An hour in the company of the wise-cracking Tony Jimenez provides a fascinating insight into the nature of modern football for good and ill. Particularly his stormy nine-month spell at Newcastle United and bruising battles with Kevin Keegan.

Among the businessman’s more eye-catching anecdotes are his claims that Mike Ashley never wanted to buy Newcastle and rejected the chance to sell the club to Sheikh Mansour before the Abu Dhabi takeover of Manchester City. There is also a litany of allegedly botched transfer deals that raise questions about Keegan’s judgment.

Jimenez jokes that he is happy to help Keegan sell more copies of his autobiography, My Life in Football, but also wants to give his side of a story that caused uproar when serialised in The Times last weekend.

It is claimed that, in his role as a vice-president of Newcastle, Jimenez rejected the chance to sign Luka Modric in 2008 on the grounds that the Croatia midfielder was “too lightweight”. The 55-year-old’s recollection of the Modric transfer negotiations is very different, while his list of young players whom Keegan allegedly rejected as not good enough would make quite a fantasy football team.

Almost the only thing that the pair can agree on is the toxic nature of the relationship between Keegan and the Newcastle hierarchy that appointed him — Ashley, Jimenez and the director of football Dennis Wise. Jimenez portrays Keegan as a diva-esque figure who signed up to the club’s business plan of targeting young players before making impossible demands to sign household names. He allegedly threatened to resign when he did not get his own way, even walking out during his job interview, which he says was the result of being offered a contract with a 12-month break clause.

“Kevin was told at the interview that this is the job, these are the financial constraints — don’t take it if you don’t want it,” Jimenez says. “Go back to Glasgow and run your Soccer Circus rather than creating a circus in Newcastle, which is what he did. He just said yes to get the job.

“Kevin was a great player but lives in a time-warp. He played in an era when the top managers ran every aspect of football clubs and thinks his status in the game means he should have the same control. He didn’t understand that it doesn’t work like that anymore. Perhaps God had given him so much talent in his feet that he’d taken something else away?”

The seemingly endless rows, beginning at their first meeting in Mayfair, central London, would make a fine black comedy if it were not for the misery they caused to Newcastle fans. “Things seemed to be going well as we explained our business plan, but after an hour he decided he wanted to go and talk to his wife, who’d come down to London from Glasgow with him,” Jimenez says. “He left the room, but the ten minutes turned into 20, 30, then 40 minutes so we went looking for him.

“We couldn’t find him in the building and it turned out he was driving back to Scotland without having said anything! That was his first tantrum, and he didn’t even have the job.”

“The minute you questioned him he lost the plot,” Jimenez says. “During that window we offered him the players that we were working on when we thought Harry Redknapp was coming as manager — Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Lassana Diarra — and he said none of them were good enough. The other player we were really keen on was Daniel Sturridge. He said he’d had him as a kid at Man City and that he wasn’t good enough for League One.

“He didn’t want Hatem Ben Arfa or Karim Benzema either. We asked Kevin for a list of players for every position, bearing in mind he had £25 million to spend. Our list included Benzema and Ben Arfa who were young players at Lyons, as well as Samir Nasri.

“Kevin took one look and called them all chancers. His list was David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Ronaldinho, Kaka among others. We added their transfer value up and it was £399 million, plus £100 million in wages.”

There were other wrangles of contract negotiations, with Newcastle unwilling to meet Michael Owen’s wage demands and Keegan eager to sell the then 19-year-old Andy Carroll to Norwich City for £300,000, less than 1 per cent of the fee that they received from Liverpool for him three years later. “Kevin wanted to give him [Owen] a new five-year deal on £140,000 a week,” Jimenez says. “We made a counter offer of £80,000 which would reach £120,000 if he played 65 minutes per game. Keegan went ballistic.

The final straw for Keegan came when Newcastle signed Xisco and Ignacio González in August 2008, as detailed in his book extracts this week, but Jimenez suspects that he had been looking for a way out for some time and that the sale of James Milner to Aston Villa that month was just as significant.

“He has made a lot out of Xisco and González, but they were part of deals to sign Fabricio Coloccini and Jonás Gutiérrez, who were also players he didn’t want who did well for Newcastle,” Jimenez says. “Sometimes you have to take a player to get the one you really want. He’s made a lot of only being given YouTube clips, but he didn’t go and watch Coloccini and Gutiérrez.

“Kevin was looking for an excuse to go and could have walked out at any point from the moment he joined.”

The Mag – 5 August 2018:

A number of dubious media stories have come out in the last few days as the cold war between Rafa Benitez and Mike Ashley hots up in advance of transfer deadline.

Rafa isn’t shy of using the press himself, as he tries to get things done properly at Newcastle United.

However, when Mike Ashley and his PR sidekick Keith Bishop (pictured above) are on the move, they are simply looking to mislead and spin, to muddy the waters and confuse people. They don’t necessarily need to totally convince fans/public, it is enough to just put doubt there in many/most cases.

One person who has regularly ran stories on Newcastle United from an ‘informed’ perspective, is Matt Hughes at The Times.

Many times he has written stuff that appears to most Newcastle fans to have been fed by Ashley’s PR sidekick, one example you can see below.

Back in October 2017, backing up the idea that Mike Ashley was supposedly serious about selling Newcastle United, Matt Hughes claimed as fact that aside from Amanda Staveley’s group, Mike Ashley had ‘Three separate groups of potential investors conducting due diligence at Newcastle United.’

Most Newcastle fans have come to accept it is simply a lie that Mike Ashley has any intention of selling up, the owner gaining so many benefits from his ownership. Ashley has claimed a number of times NUFC is up for sale but clearly that hasn’t been the case, if he had been serious then the club would have been sold by now – it being 10 years since he first claimed Newcastle United was up for sale and he supposedly wanted out. If indeed there have been any approaches to buy, Mike Ashley has obviously priced the club out of any chance of selling.

If there had indeed been people seriously looking to buy last October and going so far as doing due diligence, according to Matt Hughes, why was there never any follow up(s) about why a sale hadn’t happened? If indeed three parties had been bothered enough to get to due diligence, they must surely have already known the ballpark figure Mike Ashley was asking, and to be seriously interested in buying the club. It is very far-fetched to then believe that all three interested bidders lose interest for no apparent reason.

The latest this weekend from Matt Hughes (Keith Bishop???), claims a reason for Rafa Benitez not getting any transfer budget, is due to Mike Ashley wanting to sell Newcastle United…

I think we have all heard this somewhere before.

Hughes claims that Ashley doesn’t want to commit to buying players by instalments, as every other club does, because then any sale  would see a buyer demanding the money still owed to be knocked off the selling price.

What a load of rubbish.

Money committed to transfers isn’t money down the drain (hopefully!), it is used to buy something that then becomes an asset of the club you are buying.

Take the example say of Liverpool, who bought Mo Salah for £35m last summer. Say if Liverpool still owe£15m or £20m now, would a buyer of their club be expecting to get it for cheaper overall now, because of money still owed on Salah? Not only the player’s value having increased in these 12 months but also what he has contributed in that time to make the club more valuable.

Similarly, go back to the days when Newcastle actually bought players, 22 years after the event and in these past 11 years Mike Ashley has still failed to even match the £15m that was paid for Alan Shearer. Back then, if Newcastle had sold Newcastle United in the weeks and months after buying Shearer, do you think a buyer would believe he’d be entitled to a discount because Newcastle still owed £5m or whatever on the NUFC legend?

Matt Hughes also claims: ‘To compound matters, Ashley has had little choice other than to accept fees for sales in instalments.’ This is rubbish, there is no reason why Mike Ashley (a billionaire just in case you have forgotten) couldn’t have insisted that say Fulham (also owned by a billionaire) paid all the money up front for Mitrovic. To get the deal done it might then have meant a sale price of say £18m or £20m instead of £22m, but no reason why that couldn’t have happened, it is purely Mike Ashley choosing that this is how things are done, he isn’t forced to do it.

No amount of PR spin via friendly journalists can convince otherwise.

The intention surely here is to put that bit of doubt in people’s minds, to get some thinking/believing that not allowing spending  on essential Rafa signings is somehow justified, or even a good thing as it will (supposedly) help the club to get sold.

Matt Hughes writing in The Times:

“Rafael Benítez’s difficulty in getting Newcastle United to spend significant sums in the transfer market this summer has been exacerbated by owner Mike Ashley’s insistence on paying all fees up front, which is highly unusual in the Premier League, where spreading payments over instalments is standard practice.

“Ashley is reluctant to follow this model because it could affect the club’s value in the event of a sale, with interested buyers likely to deduct any liabilities from their offer price.

 “To compound matters, Ashley has had little choice other than to accept fees for sales in instalments, leading to the unusual situation where Newcastle could make an accounting loss on player trading in this window despite agreeing to sell them for fees that will eventually bring in more than £40 million.”

The Mag – 7 October 2017:

There has also been claims that the NUFC stories emanating from The Times headquarters in London, are likely to be the work of Mike Ashley PR goon Keith Bishop feeding the story/stories to the London based journalist.

Matt Hughes writing in The Times:

“There are three separate groups of potential investors conducting due diligence at Newcastle United in addition to PCP Capital Partners, which is run by Amanda Staveley, who held informal talks with club officials at St James Park last weekend.

“Unlike PCP, the other interested parties have signed non-disclosure agreements and are pushing for a quick deal, ideally before the next Premier League TV rights package is completed in February, which they all expect to have an inflationary effect.

Mike Ashley, the owner, also wants a quick sale as he is keen to avoid an outlay in the January transfer window on an asset of which he is in the process of disposing, having conceded that Newcastle’s squad requires strengthening.”

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