Think back to early 2007, did you know who Mike Ashley was?
Difficult to remember maybe….but moving forward over 11 years there can’t be many people now who haven’t heard of him.
Ashley was described at the time as ‘the reclusive owner of Sports Direct’ when he bought Newcastle United, somebody who was said to prefer staying out of the limelight.
Next thing we know he is down the Bigg Market getting the whole bar a drink in and making a big show of standing on the terraces in a replica shirt.
Those days are long gone but little doubt of the fame/infamy of Mike Ashley these days, or brand recognition as many would call it.
If you stopped 100 people on any high street in the UK and asked them who the main men were at JD Sports and Sports Direct, the contrast would be startling, would anybody know who the JD Sports boss was and likewise, would anybody not name Mike Ashley?
We are told Newcastle United ‘are not all that’ these days but just look at the power of being associated with our ‘brand’, can anybody doubt it?
When anything of any consequence is written or said about Mike Ashley, Sports Direct or Newcastle United, all three things will be mentioned the vast majority of times.
Mike Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle United has coincided with his wealth increasing by billions, is there still anybody naïve enough to think that owning NUFC has not been a significant factor in that?
Aside from Ashley and his retail empire, just look at the brand awareness Wonga benefited from when they got involved with Newcastle United. They went from being just another payday lender to being the one everybody could name.
Like Ashley they definitely went with the belief of all publicity is good publicity and thrived on the back of it, until the UK government belatedly tightened the rules on lending and Wonga also played a major part in their own downfall.
The bottom line though is that Newcastle United do make the headlines and that is for all kinds of reasons. The club is of interest to so many neutrals, as well as the extensive fanbase
As well as for Mike Ashley, Newcastle United can be a dream club to own for another owner(s), just imagine the profile they could get if the club was run for everybody’s benefit and not just the owner’s.
An NUFC run with integrity could be something really special, especially when everybody is given a chance to pull together.