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Opinion

Mike Ashley pet journalist backs up why Newcastle United has not been sold

2 weeks ago
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Mike Ashley is now in his thirteenth season at Newcastle United.

A generation of fans having now grown up knowing nothing else but this particular owner at the football club.

Yet it was September 2008 when he first told Newcastle fans that he was definitely selling the club as soon as possible. The NUFC owner responding to supporter outrage at him undermining and forcing Kevin Keegan out of the club, saying he had got the message loud and clear, telling them they could stop protesting as he would be gone at the first opportunity.

Over 11 years later and it is as though he just might possibly have not been telling the truth.

As though Mike Ashley only said it to try and stop/dilute the protests against him…

We are now being lectured on the subject of the non-sale of Newcastle United by Ashley’s pet journalist Martin Samuel. The NUFC owner and his people having a close relationship with the Mail journalist, with particular past ‘highlights’ having been him being handed the infamous Peter Kenyon leaked Christmas letter to Mike Ashley, which appeared to be leaked for the primary reason of trying to show that Ashley had supposedly being a willing seller in the winter.

In the middle of yet another Mike Ashley induced relegation struggle, the NUFC owner went on Sky News and announced in early December that talks were so advanced with a buyer, a sale could go through as early as that month. Newcastle fans of course had the usual faint, almost invisible, hope when these type of things are put out in the public domain by Mike Ashley and his people BUT it all sounded scarcely believable and so it proved.

That ‘leaked’ letter was then trumped by Martin Samuel and The Mail when they then published that ridiculous Mike Ashley PR statement in late July this year, giving Ashley a platform to attack Rafa Benitez and the Newcastle fans, whilst painting himself as the victim and promising great times ahead now he at last had a Head Coach (not manager) who was on his ambitious wavelength…

No surprise then to see Martin Samuel once again backing Mike Ashley up with his latest piece.

The man from The Mail desperate to portray Mike Ashley as a very willing seller of Newcastle United, just continually let down by time wasters, 11+ years worth of time wasters.

It almost sounds unbelievable…

Samuel spends a lot of time rubbishing the daft brochure apparently sent to potential investors by Peter Kenyon and his associates and indeed we have all had a laugh at that.

However, does that give a believable truly honest reflection as to why exactly Ashley has really failed to sell the football club?

Just because this Peter Kenyon saga sounds daft, doesn’t then automatically equate to this being the real bottom line on how difficult it is to sell Newcastle United.

Martin Samuel also mentions Amanda Staveley and the Bin Zayed Group.

Maybe they were from the same level as Peter Kenyon’s ‘bid’ or maybe not BUT Mike Ashley and his people have regularly said, as well as friendly media putting messages out on their behalf, that they have also had any number of serious people wanting to buy the club, as well as those who end up named in the media.

So once again then, why has Newcastle United not been sold?

Mike Ashley and his people say loads of potential buyers have approached them, so why has there not been a sale. Particularly when the vast majority of other major clubs have changed ownership, some more than once, in the 11 years Ashley has supposedly been desperate to sell NUFC.

The selling a house comparison never goes away.

If you had your house up for sale for over 11 years and it still wasn’t shifting, would you think it was a problem with the seller or potential buyers?

That is the true bottom line, the thing we can all see as the truth. If Mike Ashley really wanted to sell Newcastle United then it would have happened.

If so many other clubs are bought and sold then there is something different about the case of Newcastle United. A bit like the house selling example, if all the other houses in the street have been selling, why not yours?

I can see three reasons as to why an NUFC sale hasn’t happened…

Firstly, Mike Ashley has no intention of selling.

Secondly, Mike Ashley wants a lot more money than NUFC is worth (which is then basically the same as having no intention of selling).

Thirdly, there are other reasons that make a sale more difficult – People speculating that these could include: responsibility for massive fines etc that may need to be paid due to the so far unresolved HMRC investigation, the promotion of Ashley’s retail empire via NUFC, the retail relationship between Sports Direct and Newcastle United. Many other potential issues speculated on but those appear to be the main three fans bring up.

Nobody, apart from Mike Ashley and his inner circle, knows exactly why he hasn’t sold Newcastle United.

However, it is laughable when Martin Samuel and pretty much every other journalist, always have as their starting point, that we should assume Mike Ashley is telling the truth on trying to sell the club, when these past 12 years should be telling the media, that just like Newcastle fans, they shouldn’t automatically believe anything he says when it comes to NUFC. Time after time fans have been misled and credible person after credible person lines up to say the same, Alan Shearer of course, then Kevin Keegan and Jonas Gutierrez even forced down the legal route of proving that Mike Ashley can’t be trusted.

Martin Samuel writing in The Mail:

‘It’s not hard to buy Newcastle – you just need to find £300m… but Peter Kenyon doesn’t have it and neither did Amanda Staveley.

Previous suitors who showed interest didn’t have £300m, so it stays with Ashley.

There is one problem with Peter Kenyon’s £300million bid for Newcastle. It’s the £300m part. He hasn’t got it. Not in any finite sense. If he had, Newcastle would be his now, just as it could be yours, or mine, or anybody’s. In the blink of an eye, too.

Newcastle is for sale and has been for years. Knock down Mike Ashley’s door with the asking price and you can have the keys this afternoon.

But Kenyon, like Amanda Staveley, like Sheik Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan, like any number of unsuitable suitors or small-time big talkers, doesn’t have £300m. So with Ashley it remains.

When he speaks of owning Newcastle for ever, it is no secret desire. Simply, Ashley has seen too many of these negotiations disappear in smoke when it came time to put up or shut up, so now he is sceptical of ever reaching journey’s end.

Equally, Kenyon’s depiction of a club that is underdeveloped, undervalued and ripe for commercial exploitation does not tally with the absence of serious bidders across close to a decade.

If Newcastle is such a licence to print money why aren’t prospective owners besieging Ashley with deals? It cannot merely be that the club is overpriced, because Kenyon makes it sound as if Newcastle is the investment coup of a lifetime.

Certainly, it is a tight ship financially. Ashley has kept it so expressly for sale purposes. Yet there has never been an offer for Newcastle that looked remotely viable.

Why would a relative of Sheik Mansour, measuring his wealth in billions, not move fast on a deal? Why would a group with more than £100m available to spend on players wish to haggle over an asking price through newspaper articles?’

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