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Opinion

Mike Ashley – Today we ‘celebrate’ 13 years at Newcastle United…

3 months ago
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Celebrations broke out across Tyneside exactly 13 years ago today.

The media had been absolutely clueless as to anything happening, until it was released to the media on 23 May 2007, that Sir John Hall had sold his 41.6% Newcastle United shareholding to Mike Ashley at a price of 100p per share.

Effectively he had taken over the club, a formality that Ashley would be going on to take control and then complete the buying of 100% of the shares.

Very difficult (impossible?) to imagine just how excited you were back then to hear the news.

Hall and Shepherd had lost their way, continuing to take money out of the club in salaries and share dividends but some disastrous decisions had seriously damaged the club on the pitch and to an extent off it. Bringing in Graeme Souness as manager stunned fans and was predictably proved to be a hopeless decision,  as Souness and the owners took apart Sir Bobby’s legacy and wasted a relative fortune on the likes of Owen, Boumsong and Luque.

The club wasn’t in a dangerous position financially as some claim but Newcastle United needed new direction and to be run more professionally, all the better if it came via a self-made British billionaire who would surely be coming in with ambitious plans to succeed.

Mike Ashley has now (effectively) owned Newcastle United for exactly 13 years, we now know that the masterplan was to bring success alright, only for that success to be solely about making he and his retail empire wealthier. The football club simply a tool to help, rather than ambitions for NUFC to succeed on the pitch.

Surviving in the Premier League to ensure worldwide exposure for his retail empire and PL sized revenues coming in, that was the plan for the club, not trying to win things and / or for the club to be the best it can be.

Mike Ashley after completing the takeover in 2007:

“I am delighted to have this opportunity to invest in Newcastle United.

“The club has a fantastic infrastructure, for which Sir John and the board must take much of the credit. I am pleased that Sir John has agreed to remain as life president of the club.

“Newcastle United has a wonderful heritage and the passion of its fans is legendary.

“I am sure that, like me, they are already excited about the prospects for next season…”

What could possibly go wrong…?

The honeymoon period lasted around a year.

The terrible appointment of Sam Allardyce shortly before Mike Ashley made his move for the club, looked to have been corrected when the owner binned him in January 2008 after a run of only two wins in 13 matches, with seven defeats and four draws, watching some truly shocking football.

Kevin Keegan persuaded to come back looked a masterstroke and indeed it could have been, if not for Mike Ashley showing his true colours.

Ashley promising Kevin Keegan final say on transfers, only to secretly give that power to Dennis Wise instead.

The owner forcing Keegan out of the club and the NUFC legend succeeding in a case of constructive dismissal, Mike Ashley ordered to pay KK £2m.

That led to mass demonstrations by fans against Mike Ashley in September 2008 and he quickly told fans that they could stop those protests because he promised to sell Newcastle United ASAP.

Now 12 years later we are still waiting for him to honour that promise, the takeover confirmation can’t come a moment too soon.

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