If Mike Ashley was hoping to provide a media distraction away from his court case with Tony Jimenez and problems in his retail empire (ongoing House of Fraser issues and a Sports Direct share price that has fallen from 429p to 324p in these past 11 weeks), then he appears to have succeeded.
After laughing at protesting Newcastle fans on Saturday and getting his people to tear down Rafa Benitez and Kevin Keegan banners hung outside the Gallowgate End, the club’s owner flicked a V sign at supporters who had gathered to see him off, after his pizza/pasta party with Rafa Benitez and the squad.
He often describes himself as being unfairly portrayed as a pantomime villain. Obviously he is much worse than that (a pantomime villain) but his running of Newcastle United has become a predictable pantomime, with no end in sight to what is in reality more of a nightmare.
Mike Ashley’s PR people even had the audacity to claim that he has shown the fans respect over these past few days and certainly didn’t flash a V sign last night…Oh yes he did!
Now the latest exclusive sees The Mail revealing what the NUFC owner said to the Newcastle players last night during the meal.
As an incentive if they stay up, the newspaper reports that Mike Ashley has promised all the squad a paid for holiday.
I’m not sure what kind of paid for holiday would be needed to inspire players who earn tens of thousands of pounds a week to play better – but it would have to be pretty special!
The Mail add that Mike Ashley also allegedly told both Rafa Benitez and the player that there is no chance of the club being sold because ‘No party has ever come close to meeting his valuation and that some had tried to steal the club at a knock-down price.’
This is actually interesting, because if true there has been interest in buying Newcastle United but he is asking too much money. Mike Ashley put the club up for sale 10 years ago and if something doesn’t sell in that time, when almost every other major English club has changed hands in that period, then clearly you are asking too much. That is, if you are genuine about selling anyway.
The Mail say that Ashley has admitted to making ‘mistakes’ (is that ‘mistakes’ such as undermining Rafa Benitez four transfer windows in a row and ensuring Newcastle have one of the weakest three squads in the Premier League?) and that he supposedly is going to correct these mistakes by being more ‘hands-on’, which will include now coming to more matches and rocking up at the training ground regularly.
Mike Ashley is also said to have promised the players that Rafa Benitez is going nowhere and that he knows he needs to keep the manager, to which end he is also supposedly promising backing for Rafa in the January window.
Great exclusive for The Mail but both Rafa Benitez and the Newcastle fans have heard this all before.
Rafa has repeatedly made clear that window after window he has had broken promises from the club’s owner.
There is also that saying about judging somebody by their actions, not their (empty) words.
Well, Mike Ashley’s behaviour towards Newcastle fans on both Saturday afternoon and Wednesday night tells us everything we need to know.
After over 11 years of his reign, we know learnt to never believe a word he says.