Late Monday night fans heard from Newcastle owner Mike Ashley for the first time in months. The Daily Mail has obtained images of a letter that Ashley reportedly sent last week to secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright, in response to a parliamentary petition raised by Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central.
The letter unpacks a lot, but serves one purpose only, and that is to victimize Mike Ashley. In the letter he claims that he has been labeled the pantomime villain once again and his companies have been under constant abuse from fans since the announcement of the parliamentary petition. The letter goes on to defend, albeit poorly, Ashley’s running of the club claiming that he has invested a lot into the club despite what fans or the media believe.
The letter in its entirety is below.
Mike Ashley has written a letter defending his running of #NUFC. I do not know where to start with this. pic.twitter.com/yH23SEAxwT— NUFC 360 (@NUFC360) August 6, 2018
There are plenty of issues with the letter, but the most damning issue is that the letter simply exposes yet again the fraud that Mike Ashley. Mike’s defense of his running of the club can be completely negated with a simple google search on any articles written about the club over the past year.
Ashley cites that he has invested a ton of money in the club and that the club owes him £144m. While this is technically true, this debt figure has been used as one of Ashley’s main defenses for his lack of spending over the past 2 years. That figure comes from a 2016/2017 financial report that club submitted (later than every other club). Newcastle apparently finished the 2016-2017 season £144m in debt to Mike Ashley, all private loans from him to the club. It is hard however, to believe that the club has not made a dent on this sum of debt despite a large payment from the Premier League, and two straight summers of generating a profit in player sales. Additionally, since this series of loans that make up the debt came directly from Ashley in the form of private loans the public has no knowledge of the current status of the debt outside of what Ashley says. This essentially means that Mike Ashley can flaunt this figure as being proof of investment with there being no way that we, the public, know if this is entirely true. Given the lack of money spent and the sell to buy policy the clubs seems to be operating on it is entirely possible that Ashley has or has begun paying himself back. Again, we have no idea and our lack of knowledge of the club’s finances allow him to say whatever he wants.
Ashley talks about how he has invested greatly in the club on a number of fronts including getting a world class manager and players to go along with it. As any Geordie knows, this is a partial truth. Yes, Ashley brought on a world class manager, but he has of course failed to back him. Last summer saw Newcastle wait until the end of the window to make bargain signing Javi Manquillo and Joselu, two players who were towards the bottom of Rafa’s wish list. This summer has been similar as Newcastle have only bought 3 players and brought in 2 on loan, and signed one for free. Meanwhile the club has sold players this summer for a total of almost £45m. The club also operates on a broken transfer policy that involves selling to buy, allowing other teams to pay for our players in installments, and refusing to pay for incoming players in installments. This results in Rafa never reaping the benefits of the players he has to let go. Rafa won’t see the money in the Aleksander Mitrovic deal until much later, as this was another deal that was paid in installments. The lack of revenue from these deals has created the issue of the club “not being able to afford” any of Rafa’s transfers.
Knowing this, you might ask Mike Ashley “Why not put more money in the club Mike?”. The simple answer is that Mike wants the club to be entirely self-sufficient and actively wants to invest as little of his own money into the club as possible. This is something we discussed on this site in great detail a few weeks ago and is one of many reasons why the club is in this current situation.
Mike claims that he has invested heavily in Newcastle’s training facilities and that they are fit for the club given the team’s performance last year. First and foremost, the performance of the team last season was largely due to the brilliant tactics employed by Rafa Benitez, not the sorry excuse for a training ground that we have as a club. The Chronicle conveniently released a piece about the lack of investment put into the training ground since Mike Ashley took over, and it is, of course, unsurprising that the club promised a revitalized training ground that never came to fruition.
Mike also claims that MP Chi Onwurah made no attempt to contact him before striking up this petition. With a little bit of research, one Twitter user was easily able to uncover that she and in fact reached out to Ashley before, 4 years ago, and it is obvious why she has not reached out to him since.
Mike Ashley says @ChiOnwurah never engaged him before taking a petition to parliament.— Chris Holt #IfRafaGoesWeGo (@bigchrisholt) August 6, 2018
Here's the letter he was sent 4 years ago and the response from Lee Charnley. pic.twitter.com/r4mDOur58H
Chi published these photos on her own website, which made it easy to find record that she has in fact tried to contact Ashley before about similar issues. Obviously Keith Bishop and the rest of Ashley's PR team made no attempt to research the claim before putting it in the letter and then effectively leaking the letter to the public.
Ashley does bring up valid points about the club’s engagement with the community and having the season ticket freeze, but that doesn't take away the fact that for almost 11 years he has run the club in the most disgraceful manner possible.
Now that this letter has been made public, it should be interesting to see how MP Onwurah responds to this letter and how the petition fairs.