Mike Ashley once again dominated the headlines in Newcastle last week when it was announced hat he would be hosting the team for dinner. The dinner was seen as a way for Ashley to improve relations with the team, as well as patch things up with Rafa.
The dinner meeting happened last night at an Italian restaurant in Ponteland, and Craig Hope of the Daily Mail dropped an exclusive this morning discussing what topics were discussed at the meeting.
The article, as well as the actions of Ashley after the dinner, gave us a lot of insight on the state of Mike Ashley, as well as the immediate future of the club. Here is what we learned.
The Club Will Not be Sold this Year
The first bit of news we found out from Craig Hope is that Mike Ashley has no plans to sell the club this season. Hope states that Ashley told Newcastle’s star players: Lascelles, Ritchie and Shelvey to not be distracted by rumors of the club being sold this season. Ashley went as far to say that “no party has ever come close to meeting his valuation and that some had tried to steal the club at a knockdown price”.
Of course Ashley does not see that maybe his valuation of the club might be a bit high given the fact that the club has been relegated twice, is pretty close to being relegated a 3rd time, and is still in debt. However, it is nice to have clarity on the situation regarding the sale of the club.
The sale of the club has been a saga that has dominated headlines surrounding the club for the past two seasons, and has not only acted as a vehicle of false hope for many fans, but has also “allegedly” served as a way to stir up positive PR surrounding Ashley. Now knowing that there is virtually no chance of any movement on the sale of the club should allow the fans to focus completely on driving Ashley out (so that he does sell next summer) and backing the squad.
There is the off chance that Ashley is just telling the players not to worry about a sale, because he, the self absorbed individual that he is, thinks that the reason the squad isn't doing too hot is because they are thinking about whether or not he is selling the club. This is a wild conspiracy theory, but I would not be surprised if reports surface in February or March of the club being sold.
Ashley is Going to be a More Involved Owner
Ashley laid the claim, after setting the record straight about the sale (or lack thereof) of the team, that he would be a “more involved owner” for the rest of the season.
Ashley reportedly admitted to the team that he has made some mistakes in the past and is now committed to being more involved with the team.
Ashley plans on coming to more matches, and training sessions this year to really assert his presence with the club. This is of course the bare minimum any owner should be doing with a club in the Premier League, but this is a huge leap for Mike Ashley who has been criticized for his lack of involvement with the club.
Loyal listeners of our site’s podcast CHN Radio know that it drives Greg and I nuts that Ashley does not go to matches involving the team he has “invested” in. Being American. Greg and I have the luxury of seeing all of our team’s owners at almost every match, which is the standard for an American owner. There are even owners like Shad Khan, who owns both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham F.C., make a conscious effort to go to as many games between the two teams as possible. There are even moments where Khan will be at a Fulham game Saturday afternoon, and then back in Jacksonville for a Jaguars game 24 hours late. That being said, Ashley has garnered a little respect from me for at least saying he is going to try to be a present owner.
Greg reminds our listeners every week, as an owner it is to your benefit to show up to matches, as you will get a true pulse of the club and how your fans are doing.
Rafa is Staying (for now) and Could Get Some Transfer Funds this January
Ashley also announced to the players something we sort of already knew, which was tht Rafa will be staying with the club until at least June, when his contract runs out.
This is not news to anyone who has not been living underneath a rock. Ashley has made it fiscally irresponsible for the manager to leave on his own terms, and Ashley knows that Rfa is the only manager besides Zidane that could help the club avoid relegation.
However, Ashley did hint at the fact that there could be good news for Rafa this upcoming transfer window. Ashley, after professing his need for Rafa, said that plans were already being made for the upcoming January transfer window. This is truly remarkable because it seems like Newcastle always wait until December 31st before thinking about who to buy, or how they are going to get the cash to buy anyone in January.
Ashley is full of empty promises, and Rafa knows this. Rafa has been trying to get Ashley to commit to some sort of transfer budget agreement in writing before he renews his contract. Given Ashley’s record in transfer windows, and the promises made before them, it is incredibly easy to write off the fact that Ashley is even remotely thinking about spending money this January window.
However, Ashley knows that the January window is his last chance to woo over Rafa, someone Ashley said he “needs as manager for the team to be successful on the pitch”. This desperation could bring a change of heart, we saw such desperation the January transfer window before Newcastle were relegated, as Ashley actually went out and bought some players.
I don’t expect Ashley to do much, but if he could get a guarantee from Rafa to stay based on his Spending in the January Window, I would be shocked if Ashley does not let Rafa buy whoever he wants.
New Motivation to Stay in the Premier League
It goes with out saying that any player, or any team does not really need any motivation to try to avoid being relegated. Everyone knows relegation is not fun, and that it is extremely hard nowadays to return to Premier League gory after relegation.
That being said, Mike Ashley has provided a new source of motivation for Newcastle players as he has promised them an end of season holiday if the team can avoid relegation.
I guess that’s better than nothing?
Mike Ashley is Still a C%&$
After a wonderful night of raising the spirits at the club, Ashley’s bad side reared its ugly head as he was confronted by protesters who were coming from The Magpie Group meeting held earlier that night.
Craig Hope has the video of Ashley below, looking incredibly sharp in a, what seems to be new, checkered-blue blazer approaching the fans.
Mike Ashley leaves Ponteland restaurant after talks with Rafa Benitez. Fans on hand to demand “where’s the money gone?”. Police present. pic.twitter.com/ND8aUOMk9y— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) October 3, 2018
What was alarming about this video was not the fact that Ashley had managed to not spill pasta sauce on his white shirt, or the fact that there were police escorting him, it was the fact that Ashley appeared to show fans an obscene gesture as he left the premises.
Mike Ashley then appears to give two-fingered V sign to fans as he is driven away. pic.twitter.com/HkSgXmQcIA— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) October 3, 2018
Ashley has come out and said that he made no such gesture, but if the shoe fits...
Let us know your thoughts int he comments. Will Ashley spend in January? Is the Club ever going to get sold? Did Ashley buy a bunch of dishes for the whole table, or did everyone order individually and Ashley footed the bill?