Mike Ashley made same Sports Direct promise in 2014/15 – Why will Newcastle fans believe him now?
Sports Direct got an ‘honourable’ mention in the Newcastle United 2017/18 accounts when they were released on Thursday (18 April 2019).
When Mike Ashley took over the club in 2007, his people told Sir John Hall that the main/overwhelming reason for doing so, was to promote and grow his Sports Direct retail empire around the World.
The Premier League TV deals both domestic and overseas, a perfect opportunity to deliver a sports retailer’s message to the masses.
No Newcastle fan at the time, realised just what a one-sided relationship this would be…
Yesterday (Thursday 18 April 2019) the Newcastle United 2017/2018 accounts stated:
‘During the current and prior year advertising and promotional services were provided to Sports Direct International plc, and subsidiary companies… being associated with the ultimate owner Mike Ashley.
“Subsequent to the year end an agreement has been put in place under which (NUFC) will receive payment from Sports Direct for stadium advertising.’
This all sounds a little familiar
On Thursday 14 April 2016, when the 2014/15 Newcastle United Football Accounts were released, they included:
‘During the current and prior year, advertising and promotional services were provided to Sports Direct International being a company associated with the ultimate owner of the company, MJW Ashley.
No consideration has been paid by Sports Direct International for these services to date but Sports Direct International and the Company are in the process of agreeing an arms length rate for these services and the Company anticipates receiving payment for these services in the future.’
By the time we got to Tuesday 11 April 2017 and the 2015/16 Newcastle United Football Accounts were released, they included:
‘During the current and prior year, advertising and promotional services were provided to Sports Direct International PLC, being a company associated with the ultimate owner of the company MR MJW Ashley.’
No mention at all of any money having been paid, or indeed going to be paid.
That is until now.
So why should anybody believe Mike Ashley now?
Just as importantly, what exactly are Sports Direct going to be paying for when it comes to ‘Stadium Advertising’?
It isn’t a ‘few’ (countless!) advertising hoardings around St James Park.
What about the giant horrendous adverts plastered on the top of the stands?
Or indeed the giant screen which overwhelmingly is used to promote Sports Direct and related brands?
The reality is that Sports Direct have effectively been the stadium sponsor for these past 12 years. There is more Sports Direct plastered over St James Park than any other club in England gives over to a proper (paying) stadium sponsor.
Maybe some money will be paid now but it would/will be a pittance. A token amount to say SD are paying (something) for stadium advertising.
The stadium advertising is just one part of the overall/overwhelming Sports Direct promotion anyway.
Every NUFC press conference SD is prominent, whenever players are signed the SD brand is on show, whenever the training ground is shown in photos/footage, the SD advertising hoardings are almost always ensured to be in the shots, whilst the official club website is also SD friendly.
If a proper market rate was now going to be paid by Sports Direct then it would be a major shift. It wouldn’t excuse these past 12 years but it would be a start.
However, instead this is an unspecified amount that will end up being simply a token amount as outlined above, simply a PR ploy/stunt and as we found out with the 2014/15 NUFC Accounts pledge, no guarantee that they aren’t misleading us yet again.
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