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Staff lose jobs as Mike Ashley says new owners won’t want them after Newcastle United takeover – Report

5 months ago
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An interesting media update concerning the Newcastle United takeover situation, which comes via a Mike Ashley communication to a number of his staff.

The Mail are the ones with the exclusive and they say that staff who work at the last remaining NUFC retail store, were informed on Monday that it will now close down.

The report says that the staff were informed that they will all be made redundant and that the St James Park outlet must be totally cleared by next week.

The Mail say that when informed they would be losing their jobs, the shop staff were also told this was due to the club’s ‘proposed new owners’ not wanting to keep them on.

Mike Ashley and his people have insisted that the Newcastle United takeover by the Saudi financed group is still on and that he believes the arbitration process he (Ashley) has instigated with the Premier League, will pave the way for the takeover to go ahead.

As always with Mike Ashley and Newcastle United, little / nothing is transparent and straightforward.

The Mail reporting: ‘In a move that insiders say points towards a development in the £300million Saudi-led takeover, the Sports Direct-owned store is now likely to return to club control. Sportsmail understands the change is one of the conditions of the Saudi deal.’

So even though it is the last remaining ‘club shop, the report states that it is ‘Sports Direct-owned’ and indicates that the proposed new owners want the retail side brought back under club control / ownership. For a long time it (along with many others) has been a very murky part of Mike Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle United, with nobody knowing for sure where Newcastle United ends and Sports Direct starts and vice-versa. In other words, when you buy from the ‘club shop’ (the physical or the online one), exactly how much of the cash / profit goes to Newcastle United, if any.

The only thing we do know for sure is that sales of official club merchandise are a fraction of what went before, due mainly the resistance fans feel not to give Mike Ashley money if they can help it, as well as the fact that Ashley had already shut down all the other clubs shops in the likes of Eldon Square, Metrocentre and Monument Mall, so they weren’t competing with his nearby Sports Direct stores.

The Mail says that the St James Park store: ‘Is expected to remain closed for a period before being refurbished. Kit supplier Castore are set to be confirmed as the club’s new official provider and the store, when reopened, will only stock their merchandise.’

Castore have long been rumoured to be set to be the new kit supplier so no surprise if this does indeed prove to be the case. However, if indeed this club shop change is indeed been driven by imminent new owners, you would have assumed the Saudis would have been looking at a deal with one of the big hitters, such as Adidas or Nike, especially as you would surely see a massive upturn in official merchandise sales if / when new owners were / are in place.

On a personal level of course, you would hope that all the staff, or at least most of them, set to be made redundant by Mike Ashley, would be then taken on by Castore or whoever will control the new store. With both Newcastle United and his retail empire , Mike Ashley has taken huge advantage of the Government’s furlough scheme and no doubt whichever part of his overall business interests the St James Park store falls, those shop staff will have experienced anything but a smooth and certain past 12 months.

You would never put anything past Mike Ashley and no surprise to anybody if this ended up just a ruse to blame somebody else for people losing their jobs BUT the fact (according to The Mail) that incoming owners are mentioned in the letter sent to the staff, means you can’t help but even in some small way take this as an extra bit of hope that a change of NUFC ownership is indeed on its way.

By amazing coincidence, the final day of the 2020/21 season when Newcastle visit Fulham, marks 14 years to the day when Mike Ashley effectively bought Newcastle United, the 23 May 2007 when the deal was struck for him to buy John Hall’s 41.6% shareholding, with then the rest of the club / shareholding swiftly following.

If, and it is a big if, the arbitration hearing did pave the way for a Newcastle United takeover, then it is widely reported that the buying and selling of the club could happen very quickly, with the deal already agreed by both parties.

Time will tell whether this club shop update does indeed prove to have been a big thumbs up to the Newcastle United takeover actually finally set to go ahead.

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