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Chair of parliamentary committee condemns Mike Ashley for what he’s done at Newcastle United

2 months ago
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Mike Ashley has had more than his fair share of headlines in recent weeks.

Retailer and owner of Newcastle United, Ashley has been held up as one of the worst examples of rich and powerful people who are looking after number one, rather than acting for the common good in this current national and international crisis.

Now the chair of one of the parliamentary committees has also launched a scathing attack on Mike Ashley for his latest move.

On Monday, the Newcastle United owner ordered Lee Charnley to send an email to almost all staff, who aren’t players or coaches, telling them that now they would be relying on the government to get them through the months to come.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme brought in by the government, means that they will pay staff placed on ‘furlough’ (temporary leave) 80% of their wages, to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Julian Knight is the chair of the parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee and he has now condemned the actions of Mike Ashley and a small number of other Premier League clubs (Spurs, Norwich and Bournemouth), who have followed Ashley’s lead and furloughed most of their lowest paid non-playing staff.

Knight says that clubs are living in a ‘moral vacuum’ and that the government’s furloughed worker scheme is not being used in the appropriate way. That it was never intended to be used to allow rich club owners to rely on the government (which in reality at the end of the day is effectively us, the ordinary people) to finance the pay of their lowest paid workers, whilst at the same time continuing to pay massive amounts to players and managers.

Knight talks of the ‘crazy economics in English football and the moral vacuum at its centre’, which is summed up by the fact that in the months to come you could see the government still paying the wages of the lowest paid staff at NUFC and at the same time Mike Ashley (and other club owners) going out and spending £40m on another Joelinton.

Plus of course, whilst at the same time using the government to pay his staff, Mike Ashley still insisted last week on going ahead and taking full payment from many fans for 2020/21 season tickets, despite nobody knowing when it will kick-off.

Julian Knight:

“It sticks in the throat.

“This exposes the crazy economics in English football and the moral vacuum at its centre.

“This isn’t what it (the government’s furloughed worker scheme) is designed for.

“It is not designed to effectively allow them to continue to pay people hundreds of thousands of pounds, while at the same time furloughing staff on hundreds of pounds.

“I don’t know whether or not the Treasury can legally turn down these applications.

“But at the same time I think football needs to have a good, long, hard look at itself and see whether or not morally this is really right and whether or not actually what they need to do is come to an arrangement with some of their stars so they can continue to pay their [non-playing] staff 100% of their wages rather than furloughing them on 80%.”

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