People who aren’t from the area or do not have a connection with Newcastle United, have had views on the club and fans that are wide of the mark.
For those on the outside, they cannot quite understand why Newcastle fans are so fed up with Mike Ashley. Surprisingly there are those who think that the Newcastle United owner has done a good job of running the club. There are numerous reasons why Newcastle supporters have had enough of a man who has turned a top four club, to a club constantly looking over their shoulder at the relegation trap door.
When Mike Ashley took over at Newcastle in 2007, the club had been in Europe (either the Champions League, Intertoto Cup, UEFA Cup and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup) for eleven previous seasons. Since Mike Ashley took control at the club, Newcastle have only qualified for Europe once, during the 2012/13 campaign. In the eleven years of Ashley’s ownership Newcastle have been relegated from the Premier League twice. At the end of the 2008/09 season, it was the first time the club had left the Premier League since joining it in 1993.
During the ownership of Freddy Shepherd and Sir John Hall, Newcastle fans were excited to see high profile players join the club. In July, 1996 Newcastle smashed the transfer record when they bought Alan Shearer for £15 million. David Ginola and Les Ferdinand were also key signings for an ambitious Newcastle side, under the management of Kevin Keegan. Newcastle would finish in the top three for three consecutive seasons, before Keegan’s resignation.
Newcastle went on to break their transfer record again in 2005, signing Michael Owen for £17 million. Astonishingly, Owen is still Newcastle’s record signing 13 years later on. In fact, under Mike Ashley Newcastle have only spent £10 million or more a total of eight times. Let that sink in, eight times in eleven years. At a time when millions on millions of pounds are flying around the Premier League, Newcastle United have been shopping in the bargain basement for eleven years. This is part of the reason for the club’s decline. Newcastle fans do not expect to be challenging with the top teams now, however, Newcastle must keep up with the rest of the Premier League in terms of spending. The club have been left behind because Mike Ashley has very little interest in the club.
Between 2008 and 2015, Mike Ashley spent a net £700k (on average) a season on players. That is staggering when you consider the amount of money in football today. There is a saying, “You get what you pay for” and Newcastle’s league positions come of no surprise when you look at their spending, or lack of it. The Newcastle owner had admitted to “repeatedly and intentionally misleading the press, public and the fans of Newcastle United”.
Newcastle United are actually in more debt than when Mike Ashley took over. The club find themselves in around £160 million worth of debt. This is down to mismanagement of the club which has led to two relegations, impacting on the finances of the club. Ashley bought the club for £134 million in 2007, he then paid £110 million to clear the debt, as well as another £30 million to keep the club afloat in the Championship. Despite Newcastle barely spending a penny in Ashley’s eleven sorry years as owner, he is yet to be paid back by the club. This is surprising, given that only last season Newcastle were given more than a £123 million, for their tenth placed finish.
Ashley had promised to give manager, Rafael Benitez, “Every penny that the club generates”. That simply wasn’t the case as Newcastle ended up with a net profit of around £20 million. Mike Ashley has many, many logos of Sport Direct plastered around St James’ Park, the club does not gain any money from this advertising. Ashley uses Newcastle United, St James’ Park in particular, as a way of attracting people to his beloved Sports Direct. Furthermore, the club shop is actually listed as a Sports Direct shop.
Not to stop at two relegations, only featuring in Europe once in eleven years and increasing Newcastle’s debt, Ashley has made numerous more clueless decisions that have contributed to the club’s decline. Ashley had treated Kevin Keegan appallingly, with the Newcastle legend winning a tribunal for constructive dismissal, in which he was awarded £2 million in compensation. Not only was Keegan treated appallingly, the same can be said for Alan Shearer and Chris Hughton. Unfortunately the list does not stop there, Jonas Gutierrez won a disability discrimination claim against the club, after being dropped as a result of his battle with testicular cancer.
Newcastle are one of the most poorly run clubs in world football, that is all down to one man, Mike Ashley. The Newcastle owner would not listen to a footballing legend in Kevin Keegan regarding signings, deciding instead to listen to newly hired director of football. Dennis Wise. The former Chelsea star had no connection with Newcastle United and it showed. Keegan wanted to bring Luka Modric to the club, however, Tony Jimenez, another of Ashley’s henchmen stated the now FIFA World Player of The Year was “Too lightweight”.
From the outside looking in, Newcastle may appear to be a well run club. However, if you look closer you will see that Newcastle are quite the opposite. Owned by a clueless, obnoxious and self-indulged man with no interest in the club. The most frustrating thing of all is that Ashley repeats the same mistake over again. Rafael Benitez is being treated in a similar manner to his predecessors. The Spaniard is in the final year of his contract, having been consistently lied to by the owner regarding transfers, there is little chance Benitez will stay beyond the current campaign.
It is heartbreaking to see how far Newcastle have declined under Mike Ashley, the blame cannot be pointed at anyone else but him. The club and fans of this great and historic club deserve a lot better. Time will tell if Mike Ashley will add a third relegation to his wretched CV, Newcastle fans can only hope that the cancer of the club is finally removed soon.