How to get rid of Mike Ashley? Look to Ancient Greece!

It’s encouraging that over the last few weeks and months, the campaign to try to dislodge Mike Ashley from the club has gathered some steam. It’s to be encouraged that everyone who has something to contribute should chip in.

But how do we mere mortals manage to defeat such an enormously powerful individual? How do we shift him? Or how do we encourage him to clear off? It seems an impossible task

Maybe there’s a clue for us in the legends of Ancient Greece.

Homer’s Iliad tells the story of the Trojan War. One of the main characters is the mighty Achilles.

Achilles was a warrior so fierce and powerful as to seem invincible. When he went into battle he swept all before him. Ordinary mortals couldn’t hope to stand against him. Even the strongest couldn’t compete with him.

But the legend of Achilles tells us how he was eventually defeated. And the key to his downfall lay in understanding the source of his great power. When Achilles was a baby, he was dipped in the River Styx – and contact with the water made him invulnerable. Except for the heel – when he was dipped in the water his heel remained dry. That was his Achilles’ Heel.

And eventually, having defeated all who came against him, Achilles fell when he was shot in the heel by an arrow.

What does all this mean, and what does it have to do with Mike Ashley?

Well, the legend of Achilles tells us that even the mightiest has a weakness. It tells us that the way to defeat Achilles was to understand what made him so strong. By understanding the source of his strength his opponents were eventually able to figure out what his weakness was.

As with the mighty and glorious Achilles – so with the gross and bloated Mike Ashley.

There is no point in underestimating the huge power that the man wields. He is phenomenally rich. He is completely unscrupulous. He has no finer feelings. He has no sense of shame. He knows that we don’t like him – but he just doesn’t care. In the world of sport he may be a pygmy – but in the world of business he is a colossus. How can mere mortals such as we hope to defeat him?

Remember the lesson of Achilles – the way to find his weakness is to understand what it is that makes him strong.

What makes Mike Ashley strong?

SPORTS DIRECT

If the man has a weakness, where will we find it?

SPORTS DIRECT

What is his Achilles Heel?

SPORTS DIRECT

I (like Miike Ashley) have set up and run my own business. Unlike Mike Ashley I have not become a multi-billionaire-football-club-owning-titan. But I do know what it is like to set up your own business, and to watch it grow. Most people who set up their own business will tell you the same thing – their business (no matter how small) is really precious to them. Just imagine for a second what it must be like for Mike Ashley, having started Sports Direct from nothing, to see what it has become – how chest-burstingly proud he must be of it. I can only think that (besides family) it will be far and away the most important thing in his life.

NUFC might mean a lot to us – but to Mike Ashley it is just something he bought. Like House of Fraser, or any number of other brand-names that he has bought. He didn’t build it up, or develop it – he just bought it. And the money he used to buy it and everything else came – from Sports Direct. But Sports Direct is his baby – he built that up from scratch.

That’s the source of his power, and if he has a weakness that’s where his weakness lies too.

As far as Mike Ashley is concerned, NUFC has a perfect symbiosis with Sports Direct. As others on The Mag and elsewhere have pointed out, the club is run (increasingly brazenly) as an advertising and marketing subsidiary Sports Direct.

mike ashley

Businesses advertise for various reasons – but one of the main ones is simple name recognition. That’s why big businesses will pay big bucks just to have their name on a board at the side of the pitch. It isn’t so they can persuade you how good their products are. It is just so they can get their name into your head.

And then, when the day comes that you need to buy a few pairs of sports socks, or your kid needs a new pair of trainers, or whatever, the first name that comes into your head is – Sports Direct. So, bearing in mind that 99% of the buying public out there couldn’t give a monkey’s about Newcastle United, it is more than worthwhile for Mike Ashley to pi.. off Newcastle fans by the tens-of-thousands if punters in Bristol or Basingstoke or Burnley by the tens-of-millions think: “I need some sports gear – I’ll go to Sports Direct”.

If there is a way to attack Mike Ashley – if he has an Achilles Heel – it seems to me that it is by trying to upset that relationship.

The only way to encourage Mike Ashley to leave (by which I mean encourage him to sell at a reasonable price) is to make it appear to him that his continued ownership of the club is no longer good for Sports Direct.

That has been a problem to my eyes with some of the campaigns which NUFC fans have organised in recent times. I don’t think any anti-Ashley campaign is bad – whatever you do, all power to your elbow. But it seems to me that a lot of the attacks are on points where Ashley is simply invulnerable.

So, does anyone really think Mike Ashley cares if we call him a fat Cockney bast…? I don’t – I really don’t think he cares about that sort of thing at all.

Some people hope and wish for a fans’ boycott – but I fear that’s just pie-in-the-sky. Correct me if I’m wrong by all means, but I’m not aware of any successful long-term  boycott by fans at any club, anywhere, ever.

Is it going to bother him if people turn up at the match wearing “Ashley Out” t-shirts? I don’t think it is. I think it would bother him a lot more if people turned up wearing t-shirts saying “Shop at JD Sports.”.=

Will he be worried about the fans who say “IfRafaGoesIGo”? No, I don’t think he will. For one thing, he won’t believe you (and I have to say, neither do I!). And even if the radical wing of our support leaves with Rafa, then Ashley will be largely untouched.

What will be more likely to bother him are protests outside Sports Direct shops. What will certainly bother him is anything which seriously looks as if it might damage the name-recognition, market position, or reputation of Sports Direct.

In that vein the SportRedirect campaign seems to me to be a good one.

What else can be done? Well it seems to me that anything that can be done (within the law) to impact the business and commercial reputation of Sports Direct will be useful.

For example, there must be umpteen creative types of all sorts amongst our support. And there are outlets (such as The Mag, and many many others) which are potentially able to give a stage to those people. If it were made known that any comedian or musician who comes up with a routine or a song targeted against Sports Direct would be able to given a stage where their act would be seen by thousands, that might produce something.

Or draw a cartoon. Or paint a picture. Or write a poem. Or wear a t-shirt to the match saying “Sports Direct sells tat.” Or hand out some leaflets saying “Don’t shop at Sports Direct.” Or re-tweet anything you come across which pours scorn on Sports Direct.

It needs to be about Sports Direct, not about Newcastle United – the vast majority of the people who shop at Sports Direct couldn’t give two hoots about Newcastle United.

It needs to be aimed at Sports Direct, not at Mike Ashley – Mike Ashley doesn’t care about the reputation of Mike Ashley. He cares about Sports Direct.

That (if anything) is his Achilles Heel.

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  • Kenny

    Fat vermin scum.
    anyway Kevin Keegans new book is out on the 4th October & he’s at the Sage on the 2nd. I’ve ordered my copy today, unfortunately the same things happening to Rafa as it did with KK.

  • mactoon

    A lot on here would say the idea of dipping him in the River Styx is the best one 😊

    Sports Direct shareholders are already making noises against Ashley due to the current adverse publicity. Ramp it up I say, imagine if everybody in the ground held up a poster at every televised game saying something like:

    “SPORTS DIRECT PAY NOTHING FOR ADVERTISING
    ASHLEY IS KILLING OUR CLUB”

    The Sky cameras would soon pick that up and the message would get across to the general public giving SD more negative publicity to worry about. Leave them on the back of the seat at half time and if you leave early so the cameras can still see them.

    Ask toon friendly pundits to put our side of the story over on their TV interviews, Steve Howey, Neil Custis and Chi Onwurah were a good start. Enlist others like Shearer, Jenas etc to combat the ridiculous pro Ashley stuff going around and make sure they mention the negative side of SD in TV and newspaper articles.

    Over to you “The Magpie Group” get it organised!

    • Leazes.

      I think its about time Shearer did some recruiting too amongst the pundits….send him a fact sheet like we did with Steve Howey.

      1. The owner is taking money out not putting it in!
      2. Wise was sacked from United and has a gripe.
      3. …etc.

      • mactoon

        Definitely. It’s the kind of thing the magpie group should be doing, as well as reaching out to groups like the Staveley consortium to see if thee is any way we can help.

        • Leazes.

          Yup 10 fact about Ashley’s ownership…. snazzy!

    • drc74

      a good way would be to have strategically banners with things like, fxck off fat cxnt acrss the length of the stand, reason being is i remember years ago on ch 5 they couldnt show one half of a europa game as tgere was a banner reading, ‘fxck off you english mother fxckers’ strewn across one end of the ground

    • Martin Rooney

      You’re forgetting that sky is a commercial operation which receives commercial income from sports direct

  • Carverlier football

    All sounds sensible. Which is why if a boycott ever was organised (I won’t hold my breath…) it would be twice as powerful if the boycotters instead spent the 2 hours protesting outside SD

  • Leazes.

    The problem of aiming propaganda against S***** D*****t is that his customers are entirely the Charvers set, and have no sense of social responsibility or indeed morality…..or money.

    …..Most decent people would look at the tawdry signage and walk on the other side of the pavement.

    I have a cartoon but can’t insert it.

    • mactoon

      The propaganda isn’t aimed at the SD customers, it’s aimed at the company shareholders and they are responding to it so keep the pressure on:

      “Another major advisory group, Glass Lewis, has come out against Ashley, Hellawell and Bentley. urging shareholders to vote against the re-appointment of Ashley as the retailer’s chief executive. Ashley had displayed an “apparent unwillingness” to listen to the concerns of Sports Direct’s independent shareholders Glass Lewis slammed Ashley for overseeing many years of “poor governance” at the retailer, adding that negative media stories against him have damaged Sports Direct’s public image.”

      • Chris-Chapple

        I believe the fat oaf has the majority of shares so they can shout all they want it will do them no good at all.

        • mactoon

          John Hall was a major shareholder too until a big enough offer came along. If his involvement with SD becomes toxic enough for him and the other shareholders they may agree to buy him out. Who knows

          • Chris-Chapple

            i have grave doubts he would ever sell S/D

          • mactoon

            Make the situation between nufc and SD untenable so the two have to be divorced in order to get the SD name out of the gutter

        • 1957

          I think he personally has 61% of the shares, so he can easily ride out dissatisfaction from the remaining shareholders. A big drop in the share price would focus his mind but protesters outside one store in the north of England won’t do that, nationwide demos yes, locally no chance.

          Sport Direct is a one off in terms of a ‘we don’t care’ attitude. I once did some sub contract work for a company in dispute with them over unpaid fees. It was a clear cut case, but SD took it to court, simply delaying payment by 9 months. It actually cost them more than the initial bill but their staff (and understandably their legal team) apparently still left court with a smile on their faces.

      • Leazes.

        I thought the idea was to damage his company not change its governance.

        • mactoon

          All kinds of negative publicity is aimed at damaging the company. Let’s do a Ratners on them

          • Leazes.

            Just point at anyone wearing his labels, although ‘agent provocateur’ might be a bit hard to spot.

          • Sickandtired

            Anyone in ‘flannels’ in the toon should be an easy spot!

    • Sickandtired

      Shareholders, not the punters. That’s who to aim at.

      But messing with his online website (shopping baskets) is a great idea.

  • masyashe

    O︁oo︁oa︁u︁h D︁u︁uu︁d︁e︁s︁s ! Th︁︁e L︁i︁s︁︁t wi︁t︁︁h N︁a︁k︁e︁d-︁W︁o︁me︁︁ns f︁r︁o︁︁m y︁o︁u︁r C︁it︁︁y ha︁︁s b︁ee︁n︁︁ p︁u︁bl︁i︁s︁h︁ed
    He︁r︁e︁e ̩︁️︁o︁n : t︁u︁4︁︁a︁.︁m︁e︁︁/︁g︁a︁l︁l︁e︁︁r︁y︁1︁6︁︁9︁5︁9︁2 ❤️

    • iavenkharis

      LOL T︁h︁a︁n︁k︁s︁ ︁Brot︁h︁a︁!! I︁’︁v︁e f︁o︁u︁n︁︁d th︁e︁r︁e m︁︁y T︁e︁a︁c︁he︁r Na︁k︁e︁d ! mw︁aa︁h︁h︁a︁h︁h

      • papaul2920

        ︁H︁a︁h︁h︁a︁a︁h l︁uc︁k︁y ︁ma︁n

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    Another day and another article of how to beat Mike Ashley and drive him out of the club lol
    He’s been here for 11 years through protests in the stadium, Shoes Off If You Love Keegan, Steve Wraiths Mock Funerals etc, And he is still standing strong !

    The one thing I know for sure is if 52,000 people keep turning up to St James’ Park then he ain’t going nowhere, And why would he in all honesty ?

    • Sickandtired

      The lad has a very valid point. SD has shareholders with a voice and many of them are as unhappy with Fatty as we are. They are of course more organised too as they have AGM’s they can attend.
      The unhappier they get, the more grief he gets. It is the only viable way of getting at him which has the possibility of garnering more support. If SD image suffers, it’s share price could suffer, and therefore it’s shareholders suffer.
      Institutional investors will not be liking that. But then again, you seem to rubbish any idea that is put across.

  • GlasgowMag

    Yes the brand is the key!! Somehow the campaign has got to find a way for the SD relationship to nufc to have a toxic effect on sales to the brand. Outside of the north east and supporters network the rest of the UK seems to be oblivious to the horrendous way our owner is systematically asset stripping our club. Now how do we get the message across well why does Mike fill our stadium with advertisements for his SD brand basically for the world wide attention he gets from the tv coverage!! Now if the campaign protests within the stadium you can guarantee the cameras will divert their attention from the placards and also turn down the sound so this type of action will only have a minimal effect!! Now if the stadium is empty at a televised game there is basically no hiding place and guess what I can guarantee the national press will start to ask questions and the SD brand will be associated with the negative publicity!! So just my view point but if we really want to seriously get rid of this guy until we get to this point of empty stadiums we may have this hideous regime for the foreseeable future!!

  • Ashley-out

    when i wake up every morning i check the news in the hope that the headline is
    Spew Direct owner chokes to death in a London Curry House.

  • Scott Robinson

    If it was summer still and every one wore a Black on White ‘Ashley Out t-shirt’ for every home game, then what do the cameras do? Or the same long sleeve over your top. Monkseaton would be then sitting on his tod in his exclusive Ashley Anorak

    • Kenny

      The Fat Rat would be the one selling them

  • Malcolm Fisher

    Has there never been a debate or comment on TTT on this topic.Surely his arms don´t stretch that far to corrupt.Is there no one out there that can get it aired and then it might ,just might go national.

  • Albert Stubbins

    Great article. You’re right. Hit him where it hurts. His pride needs to take a hit and nothing will hurt him more than his brand being damaged. He has absolutely no love for the Newcastle brand. Damaging that only hurts us. Let’s all keep chipping away at the most toxic brand of them all. S**** D*****.