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Events have now caught up with Mike Ashley after this latest exposure

3 days ago
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It’s true what they say: You can fool some people for some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

It appears that this week the true colours of Mike Ashley and his S….. D….. retail empire have now been exposed to the entire nation and it’s quite rightly getting a metaphorical kicking for it into the bargain.

Fan-bloody-tastic and not before time.

No sooner had Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively locked the whole country down barring essential facilities and services/shops, did the owner of OUR club no, decide that the rules don’t apply to him and his company and that things would stay exactly as they were during this national medical emergency.

There’s shame and there’s a level that Mike Ashley will stoop to.

If you’d asked the Newcastle fan base what they thought of Ashley a month ago, chances are the overwhelming majority would come back with some pretty strong expletives. For fans of other clubs that would be more mixed. Some would sympathise but admit that it’s (thankfully) not their problem, others would laugh at our expense. Well us Newcastle fans aren’t laughing.

Fast forward to the here and now and we have an entirely different set of circumstances. No sooner had the lockdown been announced, Ashley’s Finance Chief Chris Wootton hinted that the brands/stores are essential for the public needs and that the workers of said company are ‘essential workers’. Really? Do explain.

“We stock a huge range of sports equipment designed for exercising at home, indeed home fitness is the number one trending topic on social media after Coronavirus itself’.”

Now, I’m doubtful on how accurate that statement is but let’s just assume he’s correct. It’s not like an Ashley acolyte has ever sought to lie to the public/press before is it…? He goes on;

“Against the backdrop of the closure of gyms the demand for these types of products has increased exponentially as the nation looks to maintain a healthy lifestyle”

It’s easy to see that as self serving for the business but in this instance I have no problems with the statement. However, one thing being overlooked is the fact that nobody is going to be walking out of one of Ashley’s high street stores with a treadmill tucked under their arm as they are going to be delivered anyway. Even as I write I have numerous deliveries heading left right and centre to myself and family without the need to set foot outside. I will HAVE to for some things, heavy duty sports equipment won’t be any of them.

The other report that emanated from Sky News (usually a friendly go to for Ashley) was that prices were being hiked in the face of the stores being closed.

They reported:

“Sports Direct operates a system of having “ticket” prices, followed by “reduced” stickers, meaning that it can be unclear at what price a product was ever sold. The pricing documents uncovered by PA News show that an Everlast 4kg kettle bell has gone up from £9.99 to £14.99 – although the sticker will still say the “original” ticket price was £19.99. The cost of a 12kg kettle bell by Everlast, which is owned by Sports Direct’s parent company Frasers Group, is now £39.99, up from £29.99.”

Hiding behind the murky world of pricing is one thing (most shops do that) but the line where we hear that ” . .it can be unclear at what price a product was ever sold” should ring true with Newcastle fans with regards to player transfers. Smoke and mirrors all round. In football player terms, I would venture furthermore that we should be very sceptical as to whatever price is also ever PAID.

Keeping his stores open is completely pointless and amounts to two things- greed and power. Workers on zero hour contracts being obliged to turn up for work (during a national/international emergency) while the rest of the high street (as well as most of the country) is closed, is an ideal situation from the owner’s point of view. It’s easy to have control of the high street when you are the only one on it that is actually open and trading. For shame!

It takes a vile sort of parasite to want to keep feeding on something as long as possible, that is in poor health, in a completely alien and uncertain position with a fairly long road to travel before it gets through the other side. For a football example, just look at how the Ashley machine treated one Jonas Gutierrez. Someone who saved part of his business from relegation and financial disaster but spat out thereafter AND after a testicular cancer battle no less and Mike Ashley forced to pay compensation for discriminating against somebody with cancer. For shame!

Newcastle United fans are very well aware of what Ashley has done to the fan base and the club but now, hopefully, the message is getting further afield. It’s a shame it’s taken a national disaster to ram the point home to the nation.

I hope that this whole situation lasts as short a time as possible and when it is over and done with, that the entire country retain VERY long memories. If followed correctly, the measures the government have put in place will see us through the viral outbreak by starving it of means to spread.

When we get back to normality, the same should happen to the virus that is Mike Ashley. His presence at Newcastle United and his all round business practices would be the only welcome casualties over the coming weeks and months…

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