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Opinion

The house always wins and Mike Ashley has run out of luck with a gamble too far

4 months ago
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History repeating itself.

The gunshot wounds that Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley inflict on this club, should be a matter of trial for war crimes in The Hague.

Going into detail about Steve Bruce is irrelevant and pointless, as such is his professional management career.

So I shall avoid it. He’s the worst manager we’ve had in the Premier League era and this was always going to end this way.

Bruce stays. The club relegated. The difference for a third time in the Ashley era is that there’s no white knight to rescue them. Ashley and Charnley have presided over such negligence that no professional working in the game worth their salt would dare go near a position in management or playing.

No Benitez of 2016. No squad of proven PL talent of 2009.

This extends beyond the playing staff to the entire infrastructure and it has been noted that inside the club, it runs on skeleton staff, ill qualified to the demands of the job. Most PL clubs have a board and decisions are made collectively. NUFC has Charnley and Charnley alone to cover all bases. He’s the most ill equipped person at the club from top to bottom.

Steve Bruce is an unmitigated disaster and was always going to be, but Bruce being wielded out to field all questions around the club that have nothing to do with him, has particularly angered me.

Where’s Lee Charnley? Where is he regarding the press, the fans, the NUST or any plausible outlet that gives insight into what the hell’s going on?!

So, the club will get relegated and they’ll remain in the lower leagues for the foreseeable. The Saudi takeover is as good as dead, especially given the apparent timelines for the arbitration process – no decision forthcoming until 2022 at the earliest, likely much later.

Ashley will not sell for under the monopoly number in his head – coincidentally this would make NUFC the most expensive takeover acquisition in football history. So really, the deadlock is going to continue, this time in the Championship at best, where the club will remain for several seasons if not more.

The crumb of comfort I and I’m sure many will take, is that the house always wins and Ashley has run out of luck with a gamble too far.

He’ll hang onto the belief that by putting money in, which he likely will do upon relegation, that they’ll be promoted at first time of asking, but they won’t. Mike Ashley is going to have pay for this. The loss of income from the pandemic. The loss of Premier League revenue. Match day attendance down significantly and Championship ticket prices. The players that don’t get sold; all on Premier League wages.

I think he’ll hang on for as long as he can, believing he’ll either get promoted or get his mythical asking price, but this time he’s not getting either.

Even with his other business interests, this will damage Mike Ashley significantly. The question is, how long will he belligerently hang on for? My guess of two seasons in the Championship, with no sight of promotion, would do unlimited damage to him and force his hand. He simply could not hold on.

There’s of course the possibility of doing a Sunderland. A high possibility given the stench and rot that exists from top to bottom.

Really, this all boils down to one thing and one thing alone: hope. This doesn’t exist. And with no hope, there’s no purpose to being a fan or investing your time with a club that doesn’t invest in you. All the more reason for those of us that bleed our football clubs to have a shareholding and a say in governance. However, with the Premier League set up the way it is, we are all utterly powerless and that’s the most difficult thing of all. This has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

It has been Ashley and Charnley’s dream situation – they have literally no one to answer to. No fans in grounds. Journalists under their control through the click of a button via Zoom. It is the most unaccountable period imaginable and perfect to their needs. This time however will pass…

In conclusion, the end is nigh for Ashley and Charnley as much as this article and what’s going on outside may not seem so. We have time, as frustrating as it is after 14 years nearly, but we will outlast them and we will have the last laugh.

The ‘cans’ will have to remain chilled, most likely in the deep freeze given the time it may take, but this is the beginning of the end. If we accept that and accept that the club’s plight will be worse for a period, several years more probably, then remember how much sweeter the other side will be.

We win no matter what:

1. We get a takeover much sooner or…

2. We get a takeover later, after Ashley’s gambling and ruinous tenure costs him more than he’s able to ingest – his hand forced.

Death and taxes are two certainties. Those two certainties are coming to call for the Ashley era and they’re on their way now.

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