Sometimes when things go wrong, you have to know when to admit defeat. You have to know when to say that you’ve mess up, or that you’ve failed. You know what’s even harder? To admit that all those things are because your own self. That’s exactly what Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has failed to do.
The owner has complained over the decade about his inability to sell the club. At every turn, whenever it seems as if a buyer is close to sealing the deal, Mike Ashley manages to see the deal collapse from our very eyes. We saw it with Amanda Staveley’s deal two years ago. After having reportedly bid £300m, that apparently wasn’t enough to meet Ashley’s valuation. Which is the real problem here.
The valuation is just too high. Last season, Newcastle United were in an okay position, yet still in fear of relegation. The fear was so real that Staveley thought it pertinent to put in a relegation clause in the contract that would see the club’s price reduced following a potential relegation of Newcastle United. For Ashley, this wasn’t acceptable, and the bid was promptly rejected.
Now, however, it would appear that Staveley’s valuation would now be seen as adequate. Out of all the major players looking to purchase the club, she had the most funds available to make an actual move. Yet Mike Ashley valued the club at around £350m, around £75m more than what the Staveley camp initially wanted to spend.
The missteps and PR battle that ensued alienated the only serious contender to purchase the club. Staveley’s willingness to move further was halted by Ashley’s unwillingness to even negotiate. For a businessman loved by the international business community on his ability to generate deals, this sure was a lapse in judgement.
And the issues just keep rolling in. With no money currently being spent in this transfer window, as well as the imminent departure of Rafa Benitez, Ashley is going to see the club flounder. Out of all the things that people are willing to concede in Ashley’s valuation is that Rafa Benitez is crucial to the operation. He’s the crutch, and if he leaves Ashley can be sure that his valuation will need to go down millions of pounds.
Mike Ashley is an accomplished businessman. He’s shown an incredible ability to swallow up business after business and turn it into a profit. Yet his handling of Newcastle United shows a complete inability to handle the football business. But he’s unwilling to make this confession.
His inability to sell isn’t a simple situation of someone being unable to meet his valuation, it’s that his expectations for the business are unrealistic. He shows a distinct lack of understanding of Newcastle United as a business entity. His valuation is off. You can’t expect to profit off of something you’ve put minimal investment into.
His failures to hand the club over to a successor are not those of the ones trying to succeed him. It’s Ashley making it impossible for anyone to even be able to step foot into those shoes.