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Opinion

Why Mike Ashley will never be wanted despite this latest signing

5 months ago
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It has been a painful 12 years for every Newcastle fan, for me this has been most of my life, yet most can look back on past memories and think how on earth has our club become like it is today.

Of course some people might be thinking Ashley recently financed our record signing and we are almost safe again, why am I complaining?

Yet does the transfer really signal any change in the regime?

Of course I’m delighted with it but in reality it doesn’t.

Newcastle made over £20million profit from transfers alone last summer, which has already potentially risen to £26.85 million with Mitrovic featuring prominently for Fulham and Armstrong developing well at Blackburn. This amount would seem perfect to finance the signing of Almiron but of course Ashley does things his own way. Instead, when the summer window slammed shut, he withdrew the extra money from the club. However, it still should be okay because we had cash from broadcasting and finishing 10th last year to finance it.

Alas no, that money seems to vanish into thin air every year with few questions asked. Instead, Ashley financed the signing by using money we’re due to make next year. He arranged to increase the overdraft facility at Barclays against the money we’ll get next year, in order to sign Almiron. While some clubs do this, none of them leave it until halfway through a season to do so while no one made a bigger transfer profit than us in the summer. To me, and to the vast majority of us, I can’t comprehend how he’s allowed to get away with it?

However, it is a very familiar tale for Newcastle fans. The hope and optimism that everyone had when the young and wealthy Ashley arrived in 2007, faded quickly into despair and desperation for a change of ownership. In 2007, Mike Ashley achieved 100% ownership of Newcastle for a total of around £134 million and the nightmare began. He just about kept up his sociable, team supporter act until the next summer when Keegan resigned over the interference of Dennis Wise, who somehow still crops up everywhere, in team matters and a meeting with Managing Director Derek Llambias only made matters worse.

Ashley soon began his game of putting the club up for sale in September 2008 for 4 months. During this time, he had even more fun by appointing Joe Kinnear as interim manager. Surprisingly Kinnear swore only the 40 times in one of his first media interviews and from then on he closed himself off from national media. Unsurprisingly, we got relegated that season for the first time in 20 years, with various controversies with Kinnear including the mispronunciation of one of his own players names; N’Zogbia became ‘insomnia’. After relegation the club failed to be sold again, surprise surprise. Chris Hughton who had put up with the ridiculousness of the club, somehow managed to bring us straight back up and into mid-table in the Premier League, but of course this meant he had to be sacked, which welcomed Pardew onto the scene.

While Pardew undoubtedly could have put more pressure onto Ashley, I feel his time at Newcastle is criticised too harshly. With the limited resources being provided, highlighted by Newcastle players having ice baths in bins at the training ground and ‘relaxing’ in kids paddling pools, he got us into a Premier League high under Ashley of 5th and into the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Yet he was clearly unpopular towards the end of his time as manager.

As Pardew’s time came towards its end, Ashley performed another media stunt, saying he would only sell the club when we won a trophy or finished in the top 4. If only we had under Pardew, although somehow I doubt that he would stick by his word, I wonder why…

After this comment no ambition was shown, he only provided false hope as always. Instead McClaren was appointed and we were relegated again, the only positive being the subsequent appointment of Benitez, somehow, as manager, the first non-puppet since Hughton. Again we came straight back up and soon after Ashley went on another media stunt saying he had no actual money to compete with other owners and in October 2017 the club was up for sale again, but obviously in reality I doubt it ever was.

The club appeared allegedly close to sale, keeping fans settled for a while, before it all fell through. A 10th place finish nonetheless sparked some hope of investment, particularly when Ashley promised Benitez every penny the club generated. But the blatant lies continued with our mass profit in the summer.

At the same time, the man who had no money somehow bought House of Fraser for a mere £90 million. He has shares in numerous other businesses, acquired while running Newcastle into the ground, or at least trying to: Debenhams, Evans Cycles, Agent Provocateur, USC, Firetrap and JJB sports. Amazing for a man who has no money. For (at least) the 4th time the club appeared to be for sale this season, but as you can guess it probably never was and the rumours have once again died down, although we are apparently still “up for sale.”

We can’t allow the signing of Almiron and our current form to distract, Ashley has ripped the heart out of the football community in Newcastle. The majority of younger fans now seem to go to watch the stars on opposing teams, not to support the club they love. Newcastle are their second or even third team. The passion at home has gone and a couple more years of Ashley may see it drain completely. To reinstate my point, here are a few stats to compare Ashley’s ownership to previous ones.

One third of our relegations since the club being formed in 1892 have come in the 12 years under Ashley.

Our average position in the PL before Ashley was 9th, under Ashley it’s 15th.

In the 10 years before Ashley we qualified for Europe competitions 9 times, in the 12 years since we have only once.

In the 10 years prior to Ashley we won 25 FA cup ties, in 12 years since we’ve won 6, never progressing past the 4th round.

Every Premier League team has broken their transfer record in the previous 3 years, it took us 14 years to finally break ours and it still doesn’t feature in the top 100 PL transfer prices.

Ticket prices have increased by at least 18% in all four stands the last 3 years.

I think Rio Ferdinand and Keys’ comments earlier this year have summed up the state we’re in but in ways they didn’t intend, as their lack of any knowledge of the situation shone through.

Embarrassingly Ferdinand, who until this point I always respected, attempted to claim we should thank Ashley. After everything I’ve said this is just laughable. That’s the state we’re in, we’re a joke of a club. Ferdinand referenced Ashley spending £50 million to get us back up, but of course neglected the fact that we made a profit in that window. Instead of stopping there, he decided to show off his ignorance further by saying we’re a yoyo club. I wonder why that might be right now? I think the fact that in the 10 years before Ashley we never finished below 15th highlights why that might be now; entirely because of Ashley. Even then it’s a ridiculous statement to make.

Despite Jake Humphrey shutting him down, Rio went on speaking utter garbage, saying why should we spend anything when the players could get injured, well why would anybody ever sign anybody then? It was a ridiculous attempt to defend the regime.

The next day the joke got added to as Richard Keys claimed Benitez should spend his own money, how he’s allowed to be a pundit I don’t know because that’s just not how football works.

Ferdinand then claimed in a tweet that Ashley also cleared our debt, but in reality NUFC have the 14th highest debt out of any club in the world.

On the other side of things we were once again recently named in the top 20 football clubs in the world for revenues in 2017/18!

I haven’t even mentioned Ashley’s reappointment of Kinnear and rebranding of St James Park, but it is all too much to take – the regime, the clowns that defend him for personal gain, it’s time the football community united to stop completely ignorant and entirely money-orientated owners like Ashley from ruining the game.

Ashley out!

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