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Opinion

Mike Ashley has pleaded poverty with Newcastle United but he can’t have it all ways

3 months ago
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As the 2017-2018 season was about to commence, Mike Ashley gave a rare interview to Sky Sports News.

He was pleading (relative) poverty.

Giving this as the reason behind a decidedly uninspiring summer transfer window, that had disappointed his Manager.

This is what Mike Ashley said in that interview:

“If someone said to me I am wealthy – OK, in theory I am a billionaire, even maybe a multi-billionaire – but in reality my wealth is all in Sports Direct shares that, as I said the other week, are the same as wallpaper.

“I don’t have that cash in the bank, so I don’t have that ability to write a cheque for £200m.

“I don’t have it, it’s very simple, it’s not there.

“I would have to sell the Sports Direct shares to fund that.

“People outside of football looking in and the way sometimes it’s portrayed is that those sort of wealth terms are in the bank.

“They’re not and I have to make it clear, I am nowhere near wealthy enough in football now to compete with the likes of Man City etc – not just Man City – where basically it is a wealthy individual taking on what is the equivalent of countries. I cannot and I will not.”

He did rather miss the point (ED: Deliberately!), no one, not even the most blinkered NUFC supporter and Mike Ashley antagonist is either expecting him or calling on him to compete with Man City etc on spending; but what we do call for is for him to be savvy and committed enough to do his very best for the club with the resources he has.

The owner of Burnley FC is Mike Garlick, who has an estimated net worth of £50m. Not exactly poverty stricken but, in Premier League terms, an absolute pauper.

Newcastle’s average attendance last season was 52,238, Burnley’s was 20,537.

Newcastle’s TV income last season was £22.3m, Burnley’s was £13.5m.

If it is, in Mike Ashley’s world, unreasonable to expect him to compete with Man City, then surely it is also unreasonable to measure the club’s success as being the ability to finish slightly higher than Burnley, given the disparity between the wealth of the owners and the earning potential of the clubs.

Saturday’s game against Burnley is a fascinating test. I have huge respect for Burnley FC.

I remember well the Burnley of the 1960s when Bob Lord ruled the roost. Back then Burnley had the legendary Jack Hixon scouting in the North East, recruiting top players such as Ralph (comb over) Coates, Dave Thomas and Brian O’Neill. For a couple of years they had a Corbridge born Manager, Alan Brown, before he went to Sunderland.

Founding members of the Football League in 1882, Burnley, like us, have a proud history. They have been Champions twice and won the FA Cup once. But also like us they have won nothing for a long time.

Sean Dyche has done a sound job at Burnley. After a decidedly sticky start to the season Burnley are currently, with Liverpool, the form team. Also, and possibly crucially, they have four strikers who can score goals.

Ashley Barnes is out but Chris Wood is fit and has already hit double figures in the Premier League for the third season in a row, whilst Jay Rodriguez and Matej Vydra were both on the scoresheet against Southampton last week. They have grabbed 23 goals between them this season and are a force to be reckoned with. I don’t even have to mention how many our ‘strikeforce’ have plundered!

Here’s hoping that as we revert to four at the back again tomorrow and somehow we manage to score more than them.

I think that’s what you need to do to win a football match.

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