The Shields Gazette is reporting today that Newcastle United fans have reacted furiously to the news yesterday that said owner Mike Ashley could be willing to sell the club for Â£420M.
Mike Ashley – Newcastle United owner
It’s been revealed today that Ashley has told a New York finance company his asking price when it made a shock approach to buy the club last month.
In most of theÂ national newspaper yesterday were reports that private equity firm InterMedia Partners’ interest in buying Newcastle United, and that Ashley had even allowed the firm to see all the club’s financial documents.
But fans have reacted with anger at those reports, which is not the first time we’ve seen them.
Toon superfan Keith “Beefy” Roberts, 45, shown above with Mike, comes from Jarrow but is now unhappy with Ashley:
“He has been sitting with the fans saying he’s one of us all this time, wearing his Newcastle shirt, but this just proves he’s just a sneaky businessman.”
“We all thought he was great, but I’m stunned he would do this, it’s just pure greed.”
“I can’t believe the cheek of him. He’s certainly not the front-man we all thought he was.”
There have been rumors many times that Ashley will sell the club, but they have been denied emphatically every time they have been raised in the newspapers.
Yesterday Newcastle Managing Director Dereck Llambias said:
â€œThese reports are absolute nonsense and we are growing increasingly tired about having to respond to stories of this nature,â€
Newcastle have denied all these reports, but they’re hardly going to admit them, if they are true.
The news reported yesterday was that the American Consortium, based out of New York, were willing to buy the club for Â£320M, but were surprised when Ashley asked for Â£100M more.
Billionaire Ashley bought Newcastle United, mostly from Freddy Shepherd and John Hall last year for Â£133M and took on about Â£80M of debts, so the club is debt free for the first time for a very long time, and Mike has pumped at least Â£213M into the club since last June.
The proverbial insider at the American Consortium is quoted as saying:
“The Americans specialize in investing in sport and wanted to break into the soccer market in Europe.”
“They thought Newcastle would be the ideal starting place for them.”
“But as soon as Ashley asked for Â£420m the deal was dead. The Americans were interested but didn’t think they could justify that level of investment.”
The Americans are realizing, at least at the business level that football (which they call soccer because of their own American Football) has become the global sport, which has a market in almost every country in the world.
That is certainly not the case for America’s biggest sports – Basball and American Football – and they tend to treat their sports as parochial, and aren’t interested in other sports played outside of the USA.
We’ve often told our American friends over here, that soccer is called football everywhere else in the world, apart from America.
But they shrug it off and don’t care one little bit, because America is the world to a lot of Americans, although that is starting to change with globalization.Â Â That’s why they call their Championships World Championships.
And the Americans, who are aggressive and generally very good businessmen, are trying to get a piece of the action, as witnessed by the fact that Man United, Aston VillaÂ and Liverpool are now all American owned, and believe us it will not stop there.
James Moss is head of the South Shields branch of the Newcastle United supporters’ club, and thinks that Ashley has betrayed the fans.
The 23-year-old, from Talbot Road, South Shields, said:
“He’s always come across as if he cares so much, but if he’s willing to sell after just one season, what does that say about him?”
“I started to get a bit suspicious when he wanted to slash the wage bill.”
“Why would he do that other than to make money, we’re hardly going to challenge the big boys paying lower wages than everyone else.”
We think this is a huge over-reaction from the fans, because we are not even sure the story is true.
And maybe if it is true, then Mike didn’t want to sell, which is why he asked for another Â£100M.
Just like each player has their price, so does each business.
But it does point to a growing misunderstanding between Mike and the fans, and we’re really surprised that Keith “Beefy” Roberts would say those things, especially when he has talked glowingly of Mike last year.
But on the other hand Newcastle fans expect Mike to be loyal to the club, and build it up, and not be thinking of selling it every 5 minutes, that’s what fans don’t like and we can fully understand that.
Maybe Mike, who doesn’t talk to the press, should at least issue a statement on his blueprint for the club, because restricted communications is never good.
People always think the very worst in those cases, because they just don’t know what’s going on.
Comments welcome, but please keep them civil.