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Opinion

After Sports Direct humiliation on Friday maybe now a proper media focus on Newcastle United

3 years ago
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Financial journalists and analysts said they had seen nothing like it.

A nightmare Friday for Mike Ashley and Sports Direct.

The City had become used to a cavalier attitude from the retail billionaire but this plumbed new depths.

The announcement of the Sports Direct annual results had already been pushed back from mid-July and when 7am came on Friday, nothing!

When you consider that Mike Ashley is legally ‘responsible’ to so many people, especially other shareholders, in his running of SD, it was beyond the pale. Throughout Friday new times were stated by the retailer only to then apologise and set a new one, again and again.

When eventually a press conference did take place at 6pm after the results were at last published, journalists were banned from asking any questions. Welcome to the world of Mike Ashley.

What has this got to do with Newcastle United? Quite a lot actually.

Now that the true cowboy way Mike Ashley deals with Sports Direct has been exposed, maybe now some proper media focus will be shone on Newcastle United.

Whilst Friday’s shambles was ongoing, numerous comments from journalists/analysts made reference to Ashley and SD trying to get by with a skeleton staff at their head office, that doesn’t bear any relation to the set-up that similar sized companies have.

Which brings us to Newcastle United.

Premier League clubs have a board of directors (some have two) that meet irregularly/regularly to make important decisions on planning and strategy, to try and ensure the football club is ran successfully on and off the pitch.

Newcastle United don’t have a board, they have a legal requirement to name one director, which is Lee Charnley.

At the other Premier League clubs, the board(s) set overall strategy and targets etc, whilst responsibility for day to day putting into action is placed in the hands of a high level CEO/MD who will head up a team of executives with the power to make decisions with budgets to make things happen.

Newcastle United don’t have this team of executives with authority and budgets, they have Lee Charnley as the MD and only named high level executive at the club.

The cowboy operation that ‘runs’ Newcastle United sees Mike Ashley relying on people from within his inner circle, especially Justin Barnes, to make any decisions and report back to him with anything of real importance then referred back to Ashley for a decision.

The likes of Justin Barnes and Keith Bishop have no official positions at the football club though Ashley has acknowledged that they do have some involvement.

Despite all of this being public knowledge, both local and national media insist on talking about the Newcastle United board doing/deciding this and that, as well as making other similar themed comments, as though NUFC had a normal conventional and proper set-up running the club.

They are doing us all a disservice when allowing Mike Ashley to get away with this.

Some Newcastle fans still of course refuse to accept the truth and choose to have blind faith in things getting sorted and planned at the football club, though they are now very few in number.

On top of Mike Ashley’s cynical and malevolent running of Newcastle United, you then have this massive additional problem of a proper board and team of high level executives totally absent.

No wonder the only ‘plan’ is Mike Ashley giving orders each summer to try and stumble through another season without disaster, with the planning written on the back of an envelope and nobody having any certain idea of what has been decided and enacted by who.

The media have a duty to be telling everybody exactly what goes on at Newcastle United and pretending any of it is normal is letting the Newcastle fans down.

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