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Opinion

Mike Ashley has done all Newcastle United fans a favour

4 months ago
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Thank you Mike Ashley.

I really do mean it, from the bottom of my heart.

Have I lost my senses with this tyrannical despot of an owner that Newcastle United have been landed with, for 12 years and counting?

Let me explain.

This is how I see things have happened these past three or so months…

March 2019 – Rafa gives Mike Ashley list of conditions to sign a new contract:

In March, Rafa Benitez reveals that at the owner’s request, he has supplied Mike Ashley with his list of things that need to be agreed before he will extend his contract.

March/April/May 2019 – Mike Ashley never gets back to him:

At every subsequent pre-match press conference Rafa is asked if Mike Ashley has got back to him on the above. The answer is always no.

April 2019 – Lee Charnley says no investment in infrastructure and having a kid’s paddling pool as hydrotherapy and wheelie bins as ice baths had never stopped anybody signing or affected performance:

In April, when the latest (2017/18) official NUFC accounts are published, Ashley’s people pick selected journalists to meet Lee Charnley. Amongst the things he tells them is that there will be no proper investment in infrastructure as Rafa has repeatedly said is needed. He even ridicules the idea that a new training complex needs to be built, saying he has never heard of a single player refusing to sign because of the embarrassingly low quality training facilities and says it didn’t stop Newcastle finishing tenth in 2017/18. Of course he doesn’t mention that the facilities also didn’t prevent relegations in 2009 and 2016, nor a number of near misses. There is also no explanation as to why in 2013 Mike Ashley said a new state of the art training complex was desperately needed if NUFC were to compete, yet now it is laughable to think it is important, ignoring the fact that pretty much every other club has or is massively upgraded their training facilities during the time Ashley has owned Newcastle.

April 2019 – Lee Charnley reveals ‘ambitious’ transfer plan:

In April, Lee Charnley also tried to put a positive spin on just how ambitious the approach to the transfer market was going to be now. Te headline he was desperate to put out was that £100m was to be made available plus sales of players. The devil is of course in the detail and that even if this figure did become reality, this was £100m over the course of the next four transfer windows. Plus fans were quick to point out that Ashley and his people in the past had often talked about transfer budgets also covering player wages and agent fees. Whilst as for player sales, Mitro was sold for £22m and Rafa wasn’t allowed to buy Rondon for £16.5m, fans anticipating that any players sold will see the money coming in paid over a number of windows/years, Rafa or whoever getting (if anything) a fraction of any sale price to spend now.

April 2019 – Confirmed Mike Ashley took £33m out of the club’s cash flow:

Confirmed Mike Ashley took £33m out of the club’s cash flow after summer 2018 transfer window. The club say this was due to not being able to find players willing to sign, so the money happened to still be there after the window closed.

May 2019 – Rafa meets Mike:

Rafa Benitez meets Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley in London on 16 May.

May/June 2019 – Nothing happens afterwards or is said about London meeting;

Supporters are left completely in the dark as Mike Ashley refuses to make any statement/update to inform/update/reassure fans.

June 2019 – Season tickets up:

After increasing season ticket prices by up to 20% or more in summer 2018, Mike Ashley now puts them up another 5%. This despite the vast majority of other PL clubs having frozen prices and having done so for a number of years.

The club continue to claim that Mike Ashley ensures Newcastle are one of the cheapest (maybe in terms of cash spent on squad…) Premier League clubs to watch. Laughable and patently untrue.

June 2019 – New home kit unveiled and ridiculous club claims:

The club ridiculously claim that the new home kit bears close similarities to the 1969 Fairs Cup winning one. Apart from both being black and white, fans are once again left shaking their heads.

June 2019 – Most expensive shirts in Premier League:

Even worse, research by The Times shows that the NUFC official club shop charges fans more for the new home shirt (£65) than any other PL club are charging for their new kit. To buy shirt, shirts and socks would cost £116, or if you wanted upgrading to an ‘authentic’ replica shirt, it will be £146.

June 2019: Forcing Rafa out:

Monday 24 June saw Mike Ashley announce that Rafa Benitez had been forced out. Widespread reporting said that he had been offered a one year deal at same wage and no substantial changes as he had asked for.

June 2019 – Imagine our surprise:

Mike Ashley and his people briefing friendly media, getting them to put story out that they had been astonished that Rafa hadn’t signed a new contract and now they would have to start from scratch looking for a replacement. This despite the fact that Ashley had made no effort to persuade Rafa and they had always known the Spaniard would never agree to signing this joke of a new deal.

An excuse not to appoint a decent replacement in near future and use that as further excuse for not buying anybody.

June 2019 – Not one player bought:

Today (27 June 2019) is exact halfway point in transfer window, the 43rd day of 85.

Newcastle haven’t signed a single player and indeed, haven’t even tried to do so.

So, thank you Mike Ashley.

At other times there has at least some hope being offered, even if just the fact that Rafa hadn’t walked away yet.

However, these actions/inactions of recent months, is the exact opposite of what any normal club does, when trying to encourage you to renew your season ticket.

It really feels this time as though Mike Ashley is saying to me/us, ‘So you want to go and watch your team do you? Well how about this…and this…and this…and this…and this…so you are still going to give me your money to watch/support your precious club?’

The answer is no.

Thank you Mike Ashley, thank you for making it crystal clear this time.

I won’t be back until you are gone.

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