Shepherd to Sell Shares – Ashley’s TakeOver of Newcastle Now Certain

Newcastle Chairman Freddy Shepherd has finally agreed to sell his 29.8% stake in Newcastle United PLC to Mike Ashley for £37.6M.
This is good news because it immediately gives Ashley over 70% ownership of the club, and we cannot think of anything now that can stop Ashley finally getting over 90% of the club so he can delist it from the Stock Exchange – which is his eventual goal.

Rich Freddy Shepherd

Ashley needs to get just 75% ownership to take full control of the club and since the Newcastle Board has recommended his offer of 100p per share that seems a done deal. Formal offers to remaining share-holders are expected to be sent out before the end of the week.

Newcastle fans can now breathe a sigh of relief that Shepherd did in fact bow out fairly gracefully. However, while most fans thought this would be the end of Shepherd’s 10 years in charge at Newcastle – he will stay on as Chairman – a deal worked out between Ashley and himself. He will continue to get his Newcastle salary (£500,000/year) but will now have to work with a team of executives Ashley will pick to help run Newcastle United.


Soon to be Newcastle Owner – Mike Ashley

While this may anger some Newcastle fans – when you look at it from the club’s perspective – it’s not a bad move by Ashley. He keeps someone in control and therefore allows continuity of the club at this vital time. How long Shepherd will remain as Chairman is an open question – but we feel at some point, at Ashley’s choosing, he will eventually be replaced.
A statement issued by Shepherd read:

“The offer from SJHL (St James Holdings Limited) is at a level which fully reflects both the performance of Newcastle and its prospects and ambitions for the future.
“The board believes that SJHL and Mike Ashley will be excellent custodians of Newcastle United’s heritage and will provide the best possible opportunity for the club to flourish in the future, to the benefit of the company and its fans.”

Mike Ashley met with Sam Allardyce for the first time yesterday – and as we reported yesterday – also met with incoming Joey Barton. We thought that was good news because it suggested Ashley was now involved at Newcastle and so important for Joey to meet him.
The takeover by Ashley can only increase the drawing power of Newcastle as it looks like Big Sam will not be short of money for players or the other interesting staff changes Sam wants to make at Newcastle.
So very good news to start the day – now we need to bring in the players Big Sam is after quickly – and then Sam needs to select which world class players he wants s to attract to Newcastle.

This sounds like a dream – but we’ve all been waiting long enough for some miracle like this to happen. 😀

Comments always welcome on this site – but please try to keep them civil – remember we are all entitled to our opinions.

37 comments so far

  • Tony

    Jun 7, 2007 at 8:57 AM

    Comment #1

    I think FFS staying on is just the last convulsions of a dying beast. FFS is too in love with the power to want to leave from his hospital bed, he wants the show of the handover, which in his mind will cement, what boxers like to call, the legacy. FFS would probably think this will make him the noble benefactor passing our beloved club onto the ‘not-Geordie-but-at-least-English-Abramovich’. Fortunately, us Geordies didn’t come in with the last sea-fret and Shepherd will not find his place in the list of benevolent Geordie benefactors, but his name will rank with the McKeag’s and the Seymour’s (of the early 80’s that is).

    I just can’t see FFS being chairman longer than next season, but it may give Big Sam the continuity he is looking for, don’t forget Sam has been negotiating with FFS for some time, so if having Jabba at the helm for another year will help Allardyce feel more comfortable, I’m all for it.

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 7, 2007 at 8:58 AM

    Comment #2

    Tony – well said.

  • Tony

    Jun 7, 2007 at 9:07 AM

    Comment #3

    Ed, I think what might be interesting is the prospect of de-listing the PLC further down the line. Shepherd may have had experience running a shareholder focussed company, but this would be an entirely different proposition. Although, I’m sure it was just the papers adding 1+1 and getting 3, but the rumours about David Dein and his friendship with Ashley may have some grain of sense to them. Arsenal were not a PLC, though they have shareholders, it is a ‘closed shop’ and therefore a different business proposition. Dein would have the experience for this sort of enterprise, whilst also being more of a ‘football man’ than Shepherd ever was.

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 7, 2007 at 9:10 AM

    Comment #4

    Tony – i’m pretty sure longer term (before 2 years are up) Ashley will want a good man in there as Chairman. Good point about Dein and Shepherd past experiences.

  • Pete

    Jun 7, 2007 at 9:27 AM

    Comment #5

    Tony, fair enough but at least FFS loves the club, I agree he should go but I am not sure that Dein is his ready made replacement. It is obvious that he loves the Arsenal and he may not do as a good a job at newcastle if his heart is not there. Plus he will also have to move from down south up here where southerners just don’t seem to get it.

  • AndyT

    Jun 7, 2007 at 9:35 AM

    Comment #6

    So FFS managed to get 2 years income and a 1p per share increase in the offer. I suppose that means I get an extra £5 on my shares so I should be thankfull! Moving from a Chairman of the Board of directors of a PLC to a Chairman of the Board of Directors of a company owned 100% by a single individual, I suspect that Mr Shepherd will see a slight diminishment in his power within the club to – well Ashley’s lapdog basically. Glad he saw sense in the end and sold up – Happy times are here again – I haven’t been this excited since the Keegan days.

  • Tony

    Jun 7, 2007 at 9:44 AM

    Comment #7

    Pete – I agree with you that in his own little warped way Shepherd does have the North-East in his bloodstream, though I don’t think that he ever allowed that getting in the way of his making a quick buck off the back of his fellow Geordies. Yes, Dein is a Gooner at heart and as I said I think this is more paper-talk than anything else, just that Dein does have experience running a club along similar lines to how Ashley views it and I’d rather have a Gooner-Dein at the helm than the sort of businessman that you have to explain the offside rule to.

  • Pete

    Jun 7, 2007 at 9:46 AM

    Comment #8

    AndyT, The Keegan days?

    Lets not get carried away – big sam is not known for his fluid attacking football that made us the Entertainers. I must agree that I am for the first time ages excited about what is happening at the toon, we may well finally win something but (and I do hope sam proves me wrong) the style of football will not make it thrilling to watch.

    Given the choice would I rather watch great exciting football and not win anything, or would I rather watch mundane football and win a couple of trophys…

    I am still undecided.

  • Pete

    Jun 7, 2007 at 9:46 AM

    Comment #9

    Tony, lol spot on mate

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  • Tony

    Jun 7, 2007 at 10:00 AM

    Comment #11

    Ah, those Halcyon Keegan days! I remember being stood in Gallowgate K section (The old Scoreboard) watching new manager Keegan’s side beat Bristol City 5-0…I think that was his first home game in charge after the nightmare of Ardiles…

    …and yes, I am starting to feel 16 years later that little flutter of excitement and hoping it becomes the wave of emotion that swept us all along back then.

    However, I’m older and , apparently, wiser now, so I’m going to keep my powder-dry until we see how Sam is going to set the team up. I couldn’t agree more with Pete’s last comment about style v silverware. It would be great to be spoiled as the Mancs have been with managing both together, but after the ride Keegan gave us and the shite served up by Dalglish, etc afterwards, I’d settle for fairly attractive, but successful football. Let’s say:

    1) A top goalscorer netting 20+ in a season.
    2) A team finishing in +double figures for goals for/against.
    3) A top 6 finish – ergo European football next season
    4) Some silverware on the horizon – but I’ll settle for a decent cup run and if we lose in the semis, then we go down fighting, not the insipid surrender i witnessed in Cardiff a couple of years back.

    Now, do you think Santa can deliver on these if i write to him?

  • Gary

    Jun 7, 2007 at 10:05 AM

    Comment #12

    The difference between Shepherd pre-Ashley and Shepherd post-Ashley is simple. Pre-Ashley he had no-one to answer to. Its a lot easier to go from one muck up to another when you are not accountable to anyone. Now if we have any repeats of some of Shepherds more famous mess ups it will be Ashley who decides his fate. I just hope Shepherd loses a bit of his influence in the transfer market and Allardyce is allowed to get on with the job in hand.

  • George Davison

    Jun 7, 2007 at 10:46 AM

    Comment #13

    It would appear that Tony does not like Freddy Shepherd. I can tell this by some of his ill thought out comments.
    He slags off FS for staying at the club as chairman. If you listened to TV and radio reports, Mike Ashley has asked him to stay on as chairman, after the aquisition off shares has been completed for business and logical reasons. Is Mike Ashley not a good and succesful business man. You would have people believe it is FS doing this himself.
    An owner of a company can have who he wants in charge. Your no better than those who chanted Sheperd out. If you owned a third of NUFC would you resign. Highly unlikely.
    I am a die hard NUFC fan and i want success, but, what do we know about Mike Ahley “jack shit”. The papers and Tv are not able to get too much about MA. He could be in it for a quick buck. He might just want a toy to play with. He may have to get rid of money for tax purposes. He may even be doing an Abramovich and cleaning money. Do we know. No.
    I find it incredible that when it comes to football, no matter who the team, we get the same sort of responses eg, a new manager. Strait away comments like, “greatest manager around”. “He will do this that and the other for us”. A new player, ” always liked him”, “always said he was best in position”, ” a world beater”. Especially at Newcastle how many times do we here this and we are getting it now. We do not know MA, so stop trying to make out he is going to be our saviour. Just remember FS gave his managers cash to spend. They have all said so. But will MA give his managers money to spend. Think about this. The more successful the team was the more valuable the club was, so i think that FS and MA both have the same ideas, and i do not think it was to lose money with NUFC.

  • Pete

    Jun 7, 2007 at 11:10 AM

    Comment #14

    Well like you said Mike Ashley is a business man and from what I read he doesn’t even follow football (he has no preferred team etc).

    Business Men want to make money – its that simple, how is he planning on making money with nufc then?


    Well you can win competitions and get the prize money, you can increase the branding and sell merchandising 0r you can build a successful club and sell on for more than you bought it for.

    In fact I can not think of anyway of making money from a football club unless you make it successful, can you?

    I am really interested in what people mean when they say “make a quick buck” how can they do this without improving what the club?

    I have no problem with Mike making a profit as long as it is mutually beneficial to the club.

  • Pete

    Jun 7, 2007 at 11:12 AM

    Comment #15

    About my last comment where I say “George” is supposed to be at the top – I didn’t scroll up far enough when I typed it and can’t see an “Edit Comment” button.

    Also @Ed – do you realise that the site the times on the site are an hour too slow for GMT.

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 7, 2007 at 11:16 AM

    Comment #16

    Pete – the site is set to GMT – which is now one hour less than current English time – is that a problem?

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 7, 2007 at 11:18 AM

    Comment #17

    George – it makes good sense for Freddy to stay – at least during the transition – good for Ashley, the Club (most important), Sam and Shepherd himself. But we think his time at Newcastle will now be at most two years.

  • Pete

    Jun 7, 2007 at 11:19 AM

    Comment #18

    one hour less than GMT ? I thought that GMT was whatever time it is in the UK. I am showing my ignorance I guess.

    It is not a problem, I just thought that it was something you may have missed (and it might make sense since the majority or users are english to have it set to our local time zone).

    Love the blog by the way.

  • Tony

    Jun 7, 2007 at 11:24 AM

    Comment #19


    You speak as if Shepherd has been spending his own money for the good of the club, when the reality is it was always the bank’s. I’d refer you to innumerable articles about Newcastle’s dodgy financial foundations. Shepherd has always looked after himself, even his extended family (see: strange warehouse leases!) before this club. He has made himself a fortune off the back of Sir John Hall who took the punt on a failing club back at the start of the 90’s.

    I have never stated that Ashley or Allardyce are the new Messiahs. Allardyce has earned the right to have a go managing a ‘big’ club and Ashley just has a lot ofg money in the bank and, it appears, wont send us further into debt.

    As I stated I’m ‘keeping my powder-dry’ as I think most are. It’s just that there does appear to be light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been in…now we just have to see if it’s just another false dawn.

  • Tony

    Jun 7, 2007 at 11:31 AM

    Comment #20

    I would refer to two Geordies who have had the club utmost in their hearts in recent years:

    Sir John Hall has put his full backing behind Ashley as the man to take Newcastle forward.

    Sir Bobby Robson when he was manager refused to have anything to do with Shepherd and his cronies outside of official club business, he is alleged to have viewed them all as dodgy, self-serving crooks.

    Now, I may not know much about Ashley and Shepherd as individuals, but I have the utmost respect for the two Geordie knights, so if you don’t mind, George, we can beg to differ on this.

  • AndyT

    Jun 7, 2007 at 11:53 AM

    Comment #21


    I know what you mean and I would love to go back to the days when we were scoring 5, 6 and 7 goals a game. I remember watching a match (I think vs Leicester) where it was 6-0 at half time and the TV comentary being about the most nervous toon fan being an 80yr old bloke who always put a bet on a 6-0 win. When we got the seventh they picked him out on TV having a wry little chuckle to himself!
    But I think that its impossible to win things with humdrum football. Certainly you can qualify for things like UEFA with that. And I think we need a little bit of that over the next couple of seasons to get the right league positions, get in the right compotitions and solidify the team mentality at the club.
    Given the last two seasons I’d take watching humdrum wins over watching humdrum draws and apathetic losses!

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 7, 2007 at 1:08 PM

    Comment #22

    Pete – England is now on English summer time – so clocks are moved forward one hour – think at end of March – until end of October – that accounts for GMT now being one hour behind English time. Hey – keep on this site you learn something every day 😀

  • lee

    Jun 7, 2007 at 1:20 PM

    Comment #23

    I don’t think Big Sam is interested in beautiful football… he is more interested in winning. These are 2 completely different things. You have to set your priority from the start… to win or to play pretty football. If you win and play ugly, at least you come home happy. If you play beautifully but still lose, are you having a nice day? Get real and be honest. In football, it is either you win or lose. If we want to be in top 4 again within 10 years time, let alone 3 years, we better reform our mentality.

  • lee

    Jun 7, 2007 at 1:27 PM

    Comment #24

    And I don’t think Mikey is interested in beautiful football either… he is interested in making lots of money from his football investment, who doesn’t? But you won’t get that by playing pretty football, you get that by developing a winning team, whether you play at SJP or at Old Trafford. That’s what Mikey wants… a winning team, not a pretty football team. Heck, he doesn’t even watch the game, only the result after the game!

  • lee

    Jun 7, 2007 at 1:47 PM

    Comment #25

    Freddy Shepherd was a generous chairman compared to chairmen at other EPL clubs… let’s not forget that. We hate him now because we had been stranded mid-table for the last three seasons… I bet you if we had been in the top 5 in the last three seasons, we will say FFS is the best chairman of a football club…. Hypocrites. No, it is not FFS who is the culprit of Newcastl’ misfortunes, it is the fans… the fans who want to see beautiful football at all cost at SJP …. ala- Keegan Days … what ever that means nowadays… after 10 years, you are still dreaming of the KEEGAN DAYS?! No wonder the club has not moved an inch since. I will bet my beautiful smelly socks, if Big Sam brings us ugly football, the SJP fans will boo him out in mid-season…. that’s for sure. That’s the kind of culture we want in a football club, we might as play in the Scottish Premier League… at least it will guarantee that club won’t get relegated the next season.

  • Tony

    Jun 7, 2007 at 2:45 PM

    Comment #26


    Shepherd was hated when we were in the Champions League! Why? because he insulted every member of the Geordie Nation, man and woman. I can’t be accused of hypocrisy as my own view has never wavered.

    Also, your comment that you can’t win playing beautiful football! I’m sure the Old Trafford faithful might just disagree! The Premier League was won this year by the team that played the MOST beautiful football out of the lot! In addition to this, the reason why I and many others hark back to the mid-90s is because of the fantastic niaivety of our football. I’ve seen enough football over the last 30 years at SJP to know a good thing when I see one.

    This isn’t living in the past, it’s about having standards. Don’t ever blame the fans (if you claim to be one yourself) for demanding entertainment for their hard-earned money.

  • Andreas

    Jun 7, 2007 at 2:57 PM

    Comment #27

    @George & Lee.
    As others have already stated, but one more go won’t hurt, FS sure did back our managers with cash – the problem is however that he didn’t use his own money, he (=NUFC) used BORROWED money -> hence our 80 mill debt .

    Once more, as others have already stated, MA will surely want to cash in on this investment at some point, and that’s completly ok in my opinion. The thing is that until MA leaves he will have invested heavily (most likely) in NUFC (players, global branding, reduce the debt etc.) and that will mean a healthier club in the long run – moreover, we might actually win something whilst MA “groom” his investment!

    All in all it’s cristal clear that no matter what it’s extremly unlikely we will be worse off post-MA (and I would say that’s atleast 5+ years ahead) than we were before FS sold today.

    End of story. Looking forward to August.

  • lee

    Jun 7, 2007 at 3:05 PM

    Comment #28

    If you are a genuine fan, then you want the club to be successful… that means a winning team. A lot of managers have come and gone because they could not live up to the unrealistic expectations of the club fans … remember, the club has two groups of fans… the dreamy ones and the realistic ones. The dreamy ones want both beautiful and winning football… and the realistic ones know that you can’t have it both ways all the time and that you must set your priority first. So, that means if we want to win, then put aside the pretty football thing for the time being. If you want both, then be prepared to remain outside the top 6 for another 10 years. Learn how less-endowed teams like Bolton, Everton and Portsmouth have done well with a fraction of the budget of Newcastle.

  • lee

    Jun 7, 2007 at 3:26 PM

    Comment #29

    p/s/ If we expect Big Sam to deliver beautiful football AND a winning team, than he already fails even before the season begins… I am sure he is already feeling this with all the question marks placed on his first signing Joey Barton. I don’t expect Big Sam to be here after 2 seasons if half the SJP fans don’t change. What a pity for the club, but I am sure the fans don’t mind at all if managers fail as long as we get our money’s worth… which is not a bad thing at all.. from the fans’ point of view.

  • Tony

    Jun 7, 2007 at 3:41 PM

    Comment #30

    Lee, Agreed, we do have to cut our cloth accordingly, but I don’t see how ugly football necessarily means success. I know it is a relative comparison, but the successful teams coming up from the Championship (Reading last season, Wigan the season before) have done so playing expansive, attacking football, utilising pace and width.

    Yes, Wigan struggled this year, but they also stopped playing the way they did in year one. Only future will see how Reading fair.

    You mention Portsmouth, but they are not unattractive to watch. I think Tottenham are another example. Notwithstanding Arsenal and Man Utd, teams previously mentioned have gone into games with a commitment to win through attacking with pace…hate to fall back to the old days again mate, but this was something we virtually invented!

    The difference is to be able to play like that without compromising the defence or midfield. Other teams can do it, so can we. there is no need to just think, Oh well, the only way we can compete is to sign 11 Troglodytes and muscle the opposition into submission. Surely we can take the good things Bolton achieved in their commitment and passion along with a desire to attack with pace and pass the ball with intent. That’s all I want to see and in my eyes, that’s the way you build a team to compete for trophies.

  • lee

    Jun 7, 2007 at 3:48 PM

    Comment #31

    Tony – that’s more like it.

  • lee

    Jun 7, 2007 at 3:59 PM

    Comment #32

    p/s I hope Ashley will splash the cash for Big Sam to compete with the likes of Chelsea and Man Utd. To replicate the Keegan team nowadays would require twenty-times the investment of the mid-1990s… but at least we will win AND play pretty football, like Barca and Man Utd. Let’s hope this will happen.

  • AndyT

    Jun 7, 2007 at 5:12 PM

    Comment #33

    Getting back on topic 🙂

    Not a bad bit of Business for Mr Shepherd – for anyone thinking that negotiating an extra penny per share out of Ashley seems childish – it netted him an extra £370k over the initial offer. Coupled with that he has secured 2 years employment and his current sallary is about £500k – so thats an additional £1.37M over the initial offer allowing for perks and bonuses that he could receive over those 2 years call it £1.5M. In the grand scheme of things, not a great expense to the club, less than a couple of weeks wages for the players. Mike Ashley probably bargained on having to stump up a little extra over his intial offer and that’s roughly 1% I’ll lay odds he budgeted for up to 5%. Its not just Mr Shepherd he has to pay the extra penny per share to, but all current shareholders will get the extra (including £5 for me… shame there’s no m or k after that one 🙂 ), so thats an additional cost of about £800k to Mike Ashley. The “loser” on that deal is Sir John Hall who misses out on a theoretical £500k having already sold his shares at £1. If it were me I’d take that off Dougies slice of the pie and tell him to go and beg his mate Shepherd for it.

  • carl

    Jun 7, 2007 at 7:28 PM

    Comment #34

    well i think the people who are questioning ashley are thick as shit,everything is based on making money!! you build a successfull team – you make go to work to make money,the players play to make money coz lets face it not one of our players would be out there on a saturday if they wernt getin paid.its all about building an empire and getting rich as f*&^%k.and how many times do we have to hear the words ugly football!!! doesnt anyone read or remember what sam has said.! we will play attaccking football at home for the fans and defend and play sams old bolton style away from home, and he has already said that he knows what we want and hes going to deliver stop thinking so deap and let the professionals sort it out.because id rather have a well structured ugly team and win things than hang on to some old local pride from years ago that we are the entertainers as thats what is dragging this club welcome winning any trophy anyhow and if you say otherwise your selfish and very single minded

  • George Davison

    Jun 7, 2007 at 7:48 PM

    Comment #35

    We all have our opinions on our beloved toon, no matter what. Some of us fair some of us not. What we all have in common is our love of the Toon.
    Let us not be drawn into a slagging match with each other, why dont we be constructive about plotting the down fall of those in the premier league. Let us support strongly those in control. Because a burning question we can never answer properly and truthfully, ” What would we do in their position”.
    Like most fans i am not a business man and do not know all the ins and outs of running a business. But what i do know is i love football, and i want to win and win in style. Just like under Keegan.
    We have heard the old adage dont talk about religion and polotics, unfortunately for us that is what the toon is. We are definately the most passionate fans aroud. Heres to a great season to all tooners. Keep on being posting

  • LewDavies

    Jun 7, 2007 at 10:08 PM

    Comment #36

    Dont want to go back to the days of the 4-3 wins and losses. My heart cant take that any more. Yes this was entertaining for the neutrals, but not me. Give me a hard fought 1 or 2 nil ground out victory with every player giving 100 % for 90+ mins and I will go home happy. We need to go back to basics IMO. Pretty football will follow as the points build up and the confidence of the players returns. Also we (the fans) can’t expect to much to soon, and have to realise that it is going to take time to get it right. It took Ferguson 4 years at manure and he’s never looked back since.
    I for one am prepared to give BSA a chance, He is talking the talk, we should get behind him and help him walk the walk. NUFC forever.

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 8, 2007 at 1:43 AM

    Comment #37

    George – well said !


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