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Tyne Talk

Shameless Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley PR spin stunt ahead of Arsenal match

2 years ago

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley are at it again.

The Newcastle United owner with a PR spin stunt hours before the first match of the season.

Rather than letting today have any kind of a chance of a clear run for the head coach and players, to be purely about the football from the club’s perspective.

Instead we have the club’s owner and his willing stooge come out with more nonsense, to try and deflect criticism and ‘win’ the PR battle against the Newcastle fanbase not happy with the running of the club, whether or not they will be boycotting today’s match or not.

There is an ‘exclusive interview’ in today’s match programme with Lee Charnley.

It says it all when this ‘interview’ has been supplied to the media ahead of it going on sale today.

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley putting out this message about Rafa Benitez: ‘…let’s be clear, he moved to China for money. The offer he received was too tempting. We understand that and there is nothing wrong with that. It was not something we could compete against. We wish him well for the future and thank him for all he achieved.’

Yes, nothing to do with the refusal by Mike Ashley to deliver on the essential new training complex that was promised back in 2013 and should have been completed years ago, the same with the refusal to properly invest in the Academy, or the minute spending on St James Park in his 12 years (although that part of the infrastructure is more a concern for the fans). Not to mention the refusal to allow proper investment in the playing squad and wanting to have faceless Ashley people choosing which players to go for, rather than Rafa Benitez picking transfer targets. Insisting on no freedom for the respected manager to wheel and deal as he saw fit to try and build something, instead an insistence on only allowing significant money to be spent on players who can be sold for more in the future.

Rafa Benitez is getting paid more money in China but that is a completely different thing than claiming it is the main/only reason why he is at Dalian Yifang. He felt he had to leave Newcastle United because of a total lack of ambition and once he made that decision, he then chose to take the offer from China as being the right one for him, in the absence of tempting  vacancies in Europe.

Rafa wasn’t a saint and didn’t get everything right, nobody does, but if you are believing Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley over Rafa Benitez (and Keegan, Shearer, Jonas Gutierrez etc etc), then you do have problems.

Apparently the Lee Charnley column is going to be a regular thing in the match programme and if you believe that he is writing it and deciding what is published then you are truly deluded. Just a new way to get propaganda out.

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley will never do proper TV interviews where they would be asked proper questions by a credible interviewer and would need to give proper answers.

If you really do believe this ‘exclusive interview’ and future columns are truly the work of Lee Charnley, you only need to look back to when Joe Kinnear was supposed to be Director of Football, when in reality it was only for him to sit there and take the blame for no players being bought for 18 months (February 2013 – summer 2014).

Joe Kinnear at the time also had a column in the matchday programme, however, the club later even admitted that Kinnear didn’t write it (read HERE).

Also in the Lee Charnley column (see below) today, particularly in reference to the reported attempted BNZ takeover this summer and the club refusing to communicate at all with fans: ‘We want to communicate clearly and proactively, but it is important that we do so at the right time. Sometimes we must adopt a ‘no comment’ policy and I accept that can be – and has been – frustrating.’

It is laughable how the club (Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley) want to try and make out that it is they who do things properly and act in the correct manner. Even more laughable when we see the total mess Mike Ashley has made in recent times with his retail empire and particularly the recent Sports Direct shambles.

So in the Lee Charnley piece he wants to make out that no commenting is the professional way to go BUT then what do we get?

That Mike Ashley embarrassing PR stunt in The Mail last month, when as well as attacking Rafa Benitez and the fans, the club’s owner gave his ‘professional’ overview of the BNZ attempted takeover…

‘The last bid, the one from UAE, he’s a prince and he’s got £38bn or £100bn, all these numbers — well, why would you even care what you’re paying then? What difference would £10m either way make? You would want speed, you would want certainty, you would want the keys and to get on with it.

“I will not stand in the way of Newcastle United. I will not stop that, if it happens. If such a person comes along I will think I’ve done quite a good job and I will want to keep going to watch them. I’ll keep a box, because my parents will demand it. Every time there’s a story that I’ve sold, I get the phone call. “You haven’t included our box in the sale?” When you own a football club, the whole family are in.’

Even that last comment is a joke, at times during his ownership, Mike Ashley has gone pretty much a whole season without seeing a game at St James Park.

I think that what we can take out of this for sure, is that whatever the reality proves to be, Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley ARE worried about how many empty seats there will be at today’s game.

Yet another reason to boycott this match, even if just as a one-off.

Lee Charnley ‘quotes’ in the match programme for the Arsenal match as reported by the Chronicle:

“We go into today’s match following changes on and off the pitch over the summer months.

“I appreciate it has been at times, and certainly during the early part of the break, a period of uncertainty for supporters.

“We want to communicate clearly and proactively, but it is important that we do so at the right time.

“Sometimes we must adopt a ‘no comment’ policy and I accept that can be – and has been – frustrating.

“There are reasons behind that approach.

“Often, there are legalities at play or we may take the decision in order to respect the integrity of a process or the individuals involved.

“What we won’t do is fuel speculation by offering a running commentary.

“Instead, when we have something definitive to say, we will say it, as we did as soon as Rafa’s position became clear.

“We understand and expected the disappointment that Rafa’s departure caused.

“We strongly believe we went beyond what could reasonably be asked in order to keep him.

“But let’s be clear, he moved to China for money.

“The offer he received was too tempting.

“We understand that and there is nothing wrong with that.

“It was not something we could compete against.

“We wish him well for the future and thank him for all he achieved.

“Whilst I have stated above that I felt our approach during the summer was necessary, I accept we need to do more from a communication perspective moving forward.

“There is certainly a need to communicate more as a club and to let fans know where we are heading collectively.

“That goes beyond the responsibility of just the head coach or manager in isolation; something we have relied on far too heavily in the past.

“We want to give you more of an insight into what happens across the club and you will therefore be hearing more from me, as you are today, and from our staff across the football club and Foundation over the season.”


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