The Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has given more details of his Newcastle takeover, and we think it important to undersatand the truth behind the takeover and other things about Mike and the club.
Mike Ashley – talks about lots of things
This is the real thing and not sensationalized rubbish that weâ€™ve had from the gossip press â€“ so we are going to simply list what Mike says â€“ and encourage all fans to read it.
Ashleyâ€™s full interview is published in Newcastle Unitedâ€™s new official magazine, which is available in shops now.
How Mike bought Newcastle
â€œIt was the quickest Iâ€™ve ever done a deal of that size â€“ weâ€™re talking only a few days. I was told there was an opportunity to acquire Sir John Hallâ€™s stake in Newcastle United, that he may be a seller but only if somebody acted without any delay because he didnâ€™t want to cause any form of disruption for the club.â€
â€œThe last thing Sir John wanted was a long drawn-out affair because he feared that wouldnâ€™t be good for Newcastle United.â€
â€œThe deal was put to me on a Saturday. By the Monday, in advance of speaking to Sir John, Iâ€™d deposited the equivalent of money we hoped he would accept for his shares at the lawyers and on the Tuesday the deal was effectively done.â€
â€œBy Wednesday (May 23, 2007) the announcement was public and that was the first anyone, including the media, knew about it. Once I was told about it, it was done very quickly. Sir John was ready to act if I was and it was a very straightforward process.â€
He adds: â€œMaybe I could have bought a smaller club, but it just wouldnâ€™t have been the same challenge. Itâ€™s like settling for the high jump when really you want to do the pole vault â€“ you want more excitement so you go higher.â€
â€œI was being offered the chance to own one of the jewels, one of the diamonds of the Premier League. There was no hesitation, why would there be?â€
The state of the Newcastle United finances
â€œFinancially, the club was in a difficult position because I really do think that it had over-extended itself.â€
â€œWe first heard about the potential sale on a Saturday and had done the deal by the Wednesday, so if you are asking if we did due diligence before buying then the answer has to be no.â€
â€œBut would I change anything about that process? No. Do I regret anything? Absolutely not. What I will add is that one of the most unfortunate things about Newcastle United finances at the time was the amount of money still owed on players signed in comparison to the amount of income that was due off players who had gone.â€
â€œThere is still Â£27m net to pay on transfers that were done before I came. So probably in the latter years before we came in could you argue that the club was beginning to lose its way. It has also already taken upfront payments from commercial deals and sponsorships which didnâ€™t help us at all.â€
â€œIt seemed as though the club was in a very downward spiral, one it would have found very hard to come out of.â€
â€œApart from the purchase of the club and the associated costs that come with that, Iâ€™ve put in a further Â£100m to reduce debts and expect no interest is paid on that. Yet still we have the outstanding debt of the monies still owed on player transfers.â€
Why Mike sits with the Newcastle fans
â€œI wear my strip and I go in with the fans because thatâ€™s how Iâ€™ve always gone to football and I enjoy it.â€
â€œNothing beats the atmosphere of being in with the fans.â€
â€œThe fans who make the away trips are so fanatical every game feels like a cup game and itâ€™s tremendous to be part of it.â€
Asked how he feels when the supporters react negatively to the teamâ€™s performance, he added: â€œHonest answer? There were times last season when the fans were singing certain things at certain games and I wanted to join in, I really did.â€
â€œI feel like they do. Iâ€™m in with the fans, and if we are not playing well I take this side because Iâ€™m thinking to myself: â€˜How can this be? We are Newcastle United and we should be doing better than thisâ€™.â€
How Mike gets on with manager Kevin Keegan
â€œAgain, it all happens so quickly. And it was another no-brainer. I took a call from someone who said â€˜do you realise Kevin Keegan may be interested in the Newcastle United job again?â€™
â€œAt first I thought it couldnâ€™t be true. I was out of the country but my reply was â€˜if he is interested then tell him Iâ€™ll meet him anywhere as soon as I get backâ€™.
â€œIt couldnâ€™t have been an easier choice.â€
Asked about how Keeganâ€™s role fits in with that of Dennis Wise, he said: â€œKevin is a great manager and he is happiest working with the players.
â€œBut thereâ€™s so much involved in running a club that you must make sure people arenâ€™t spread too thinly. How could Kevin devote all his time to the first team if he also had to look after the Academy? Thatâ€™s where Dennis Wise comes in.â€
What do you think?