New accounts reveal Mike Ashley has pocketed £3m in return for stopping St James Park ever been expanded
No doubt Mike Ashley would simply say ‘business is business’ when it comes to putting more money in his own pocket.
Lats week I wrote an article on The Mag (see below) about Mike Ashley selling the lease on land opposite St James Park.
When he bought Newcastle United, the long-term lease on land opposite the Gallowgate End was part of the overall deal, one of the club’s asset.
The Hall/Shepherd regime having bought the lease and then had plans drawn up that included increasing the St James Park capacity to at least 60,000, that land being pivotal to any development.
Later, Ashley transferred the lease on the land to one of his other private companies, the club accounts showing he paid £6m to NUFC for it.
The NUFC owner then successfully got planning permission to develop the land, with the scheme involving retail, office space and student accommodation.
However, last week it was announced that he had now sold the lease on, for somebody else to develop the land opposite the Gallowgate End.
Wednesday morning has now revealed what personal profit Mike Ashley has made from transferring the lease from NUFC and then selling it on.
The MASH (where all of Ashley’s shareholdings are brought together, including his 100% ownership of Newcastle United) accounts belatedly released and including the line:
‘After the reporting date, a contract was entered into, to sell the land owned by Strawberry Place Newcastle Limited for a consideration of £9m.’
So having bought the lease/land for £6m from the club, Mike Ashley has sold it on for £9m, making a personal £3m profit.
For a billionaire that is negligible but crushing for Newcastle fans.
If a club can average over 51,000 in the Championship, how many people might want to watch Newcastle United if it was ever properly ran on an ambitious basis?
The bottom line though of course is that Mike Ashley sees it as just another £3m profit in his pocket.
A nice little earner.
He has no interest in expanding St James Park now and doesn’t care if somebody might want to do it in the future.
The biggest joke of all is that when he claims he is trying to sell the club, Mike Ashley keeps saying that he will only sell it to somebody who has the best interests of the club at heart and who would show they will take the club forward.
My previous article on The Mag – 8 February 2019:
When Mike Ashley bought Newcastle United back in 2007, he got a whole lot of other assets as well as the playing squad.
The club also owned pieces of land close to St James Park.
One of these was a long-term lease on land opposite the Gallowgate End, next to St James Park Metro station.
When Hall and Shepherd owned the club, Newcastle United bought the long-term lease on this land and they had plans drawn up that would allow an expansion of St James Park in the future.
The research/plans that were put together at the time, showed that the capacity of the stadium could be increased to at least 60,000.
Mike Ashley as shown no interest in increasing the St James Park capacity, in fact he has shown zero interest in improving any of the infrastructure at the club, whether it be SJP, the training complex or the academy.
Instead, he has looked at ways he could get personal benefits from club assets.
A few years ago, Ashley transferred ownership of the long-term lease on that land opposite the Gallowgate to himself.
He paid Newcastle United for that transfer and it was later announced that he was going to develop the land himself as a private development, for his own benefit, not for the club’s.
On top of (the club) receiving no financial benefit from any development, once completed it (the development opposite the Gallowgate) would mean that it would end any realistic increase in the St James Park capacity.
So even if successful and ran ambitiously in the future under new owners, a club that had an average attendance of over 51,000 in the Cahmpionship in 2016/17, would find it incapable of getting more supporters into the ground.
Mike Ashley was successful in getting planning permission last year to develop 115,000 sq ft of office space, 162 residential apartments and accommodation for 420 students.
However, up until this point no building work had started and now we know why.
Today (Friday 8 February 2019) The Chronicle have revealed that Mike Ashley has now sold that long-term lease on the land to developers Helios Real Estate and Marrico
Amazingly, The Chronicle are putting it out as a good news story…
Their headline is:
‘Mike Ashley sells land near St James’ Park to unlock £120m development scheme’
With the article stating:
‘Durham developers Helios Real Estate and Marrico have bought the site from billionaire Mike Ashley’s MASH Holdings in a multimillion-pound deal which will see work start later this year, creating hundreds of jobs through the construction.
The joint venture will trigger the create of four separate buildings, from eight to 16 storeys high, and Helios founder and chairman Trevor Cartner said a contractor will soon be appointed, with discussions already under way with a number of potential occupiers.
The entire scheme is due to be completed in 2021, and around 1,000 jobs will be created in the process.’
When you read what the new developers have to say, you get to understand just how valuable this long-term lease is, that has now been sold by Mike Ashley and which was formerly owned by the club:
Trevor Cartner of Helios said:
“It’s an exciting time – our target is to be on site in the middle of this year. There is a shortage of good quality office accommodation in the city centre and strong demand resulting from a lack of development in recent years.
“This is the best remaining site in Newcastle and we are confident that occupiers will find it attractive.”
Yorkshire-based Marrico’s Mark Barnes said:
“This means that our development at Strawberry place, the final remaining part of undeveloped land in this area, can now move forward with confidence.”
So Mike Ashley has bought the long-term lease from Newcastle United, which was an asset of the club, held onto it for a few year and got planning permission for it, then sold it on to somebody else.
We will never get to know just how much Mike Ashley will bank from the sale of the long-term lease on the land BUT it won’t be a case of whether he has made a profit on what he paid into NUFC for the lease, instead it will be simply a case of how big a profit.
So Mike Ashley makes millions out of what had been a club asset AND at the same time stops St James Park ever been expanded in the future.
This is the type of owner we have at Newcastle United.
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