Sullivan Sympathizes With Naive Mike Ashley

Birmingham City co-owner David Sullivan has expressed some sympathy for Mike Ashley, but has said his Newcastle counterpart as ‘naive’.

David Sullivan – Birmingham co-owner sympathizes with Ashley

Newcastle Owner Ashley has come in for some serious criticism, when he seemed to let the negotiations with Kevin Keegan get out of hand, while he was away in New York, and in the end sided with his Board of Directors, Derek Llambias and Dennis Wise – a fatal error.

And basically when he did that, and did not attempt to right the situation wehn he returned from New York, , the Newcastle fans turned fairly against him, and his time was up at Newcastle, as he acknowledged on Sunday evening.

Sullivan has also suffered the anger of Birmingham supporters’ unrest, when the Blues were again relegated from the Premier League last season, and today he has sympathized with Ashley.

Ashley has defended his role in the exit of Keegan, who left following restricted activity in the summer transfer market, and seemingly not in control of transfers into the club.  Mike claims to have spent £110M in a bid to manage the club’s debts.

Sullivan has praised Ashley’s business approach at Newcastle United, but he does believe the Newcastle owner has suffered from a lack of overall football knowledge.

“The demands of fans can have a wearing effect,”“All Mike Ashley has done is throw money at the club, tried to balance the books and been castigated for it,”

“He’s maybe a bit naive and not a football person, but he is not a mug.”

“He took on the club as a business with massive debts and pumped in a lot of money to keep Newcastle going, but that is not sustainable.”

“And though I think in England you have to let the manager manage, Kevin Keegan’s track record is not that good.”

That statement is not fully accurate by Sullivan. Mike was not castigated for balancing the books but for allowing Kevin Keegan to leave, and backing his Board against Kevin. Let’s at least stick with the facts here.

In fact we had thought Mike’s policy of bringing in young players was good, but Kevin, or any other manager, has to have the final say on who comes and goes at the club. That’s what this argument is all about, and nothing else. If he brings back Kevin with that proviso, the club could carry on whether or not Wise and Llambias stay with the club.

That’s what we think the sad thing is in all of this, it would have been so easy to put things right, even now, but that wasn’t done.

Birmingham co-owner David Sullivan believes Ashley will also struggle to find a buyer and he told BBC Five Live yesterday:

“I don’t think he will find a buyer – partly because he spent too much.”

“Secondly people won’t want to go into that environment because they know if things don’t work out after six months they will get abuse.”

Comments are very welcome – but please keep them decent – thanks.

66 comments so far

  • magpie6699

    Sep 16, 2008 at 10:40 AM

    Comment #1

    And Sullivan would know a good managerial record if it got up and bit him?!

  • Stamford Toon

    Sep 16, 2008 at 10:42 AM

    Comment #2

    Well done fans, your abuse has fouled the market for the sale of NUFC.

  • tant

    Sep 16, 2008 at 10:45 AM

    Comment #3


  • 51times

    Sep 16, 2008 at 10:51 AM

    Comment #4

    This Southern prick knows nothing about our club, he should stick to his own floundering clubs business.

  • Micky Toon

    Sep 16, 2008 at 10:56 AM

    Comment #5

    51Times – The blues are hardly floundering. They will be promoted this season. Probably at our expense.

  • Angryman the Angry Fan

    Sep 16, 2008 at 10:56 AM

    Comment #6

    Stamford Toon

    Dont be such a ‘naive’ idiot!

    The Toon is ripe for takeover as predicted by the majority of City analysts.

    The only thing to stop it will be the greedy fat barsteward in charge!!

    You know, him who wanted to sign Modric for 16m, but be releasing only 20m to the team a year!!

    The man has lied from day one, and muppets like yourself have been taken in by him completely!!

  • Angryman the Angry Fan

    Sep 16, 2008 at 10:58 AM

    Comment #7




    Can you hear the Drum Fernando,

    No its just the Death Knell of a very expensive team that are in a much worse stste than ours!!


  • beyethegreat

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:03 AM

    Comment #8

    to be fair 51 times he was just giving his opinions after being asked

  • 51times

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:09 AM

    Comment #9

    Micky Toon – Key word being “promoted”. They’re just a yoyo club in the shadow of Villa and West bloody Brom.

  • beyethegreat

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:09 AM

    Comment #10

    i think he ashley lied to us and keegan if he had not done that my opinion would be a lot different

  • Geordie Jayne

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:12 AM

    Comment #11

    Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t Birmingham go down to the Championship.

    Any good businessmen, like the owners of Manchester United, Chelsea or even Liverpool, although we may not like them, would not comment on the situation at Newcastle United.

    So he can stick his comments where the sun don’t shine.

    I do believe however it is time to get behind the team, I for one made my point and don’t want to hurt the team.


  • Micky Toon

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:13 AM

    Comment #12

    51 Times – Villa I agree with, but the bloody baggies? Birmingham are better than the baggies, IMHO and I hate Birmingham because their ground is so sh1t and they charge away fans too much money to get in the robbing barstewards.

  • 51times

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:18 AM

    Comment #13

    West Brom – 1 League Championship, 5 FA Cups, 1 League Cup

    Birmingham City – 1 League Cup

  • Ian

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:34 AM

    Comment #14

    If you think I am paranoid about outsiders commenting when any thing involves Ashley and money, look at the above posts no-one in from the previous Ashley heading about selling the club.

    As soon as someone mentions Ashley and money in they come again.

  • Ian

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:35 AM

    Comment #15

    sorry I will correct that, no-one supporting Ashley in the above!!

  • Michael12

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:45 AM

    Comment #16

    Again, the single minded solution is the return of Keegan.

    Really Ed, your gripe with Ashley is not the structure he has implemented in the club but it is that Keegan has left.

    We must be frank with ourselves but the market is muddied due to unfair protests and aggressive behaviour.

    I cannot understand, this aggressive behaviour toward Ashley for making a decision in his business.

    Can you honestly hate Mike Ashley for not having Millions more?

    Most of you argue that, if we sort out the footballing side all will fall in place right?

    Well wrong, Look at leeds, they played great football and progressed well in the Champions league going as far as the 1/4 final or was it 1/2 final?

    We can safely say that they were sorted on the football front? As you are saying all should fall in place. Did this happen, did all fall in place?

    The books which Mike Ashley is trying to balance, the foundation on which every club is built fell appart the domino effect was that the solid footballing side of the operation fell as well. There is no isolated area in the operations of a football club. Everything is congruent and a failure in one area manifests as a problem in another.

    For a club like Newcastle, our books must come first else 4 or 5 years of success then relegation and out of the upper stratosphere of English football forever. Is that worth success for 3-4 years??? I this the sacrifice you would love to make.

  • Spyro

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:46 AM

    Comment #17

    Why are people getting angry at his comments? He is just speaking what people outside of Newcastle are thinking.

  • Stardust

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:47 AM

    Comment #18

    Ian as I mentioned before – man are just plain and simple pig sick and disgusted with you

  • Spyro

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:48 AM

    Comment #19

    Proof our transfers system has seen us bring in quality.,,10278~1392980,00.html

    4 of our 6 new signings are in our top 6 performers so far.

  • 51times

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:56 AM

    Comment #20

    Michael12 – Leeds reached the semi-final of the Champions League in 2001. They drew with Valencia at home but lost 3 – 0 away.

  • Michael12

    Sep 16, 2008 at 12:10 PM

    Comment #21

    1/2 final better yet. My point is people argue that if Ashley spends millions to sort out the football side, the books take care of themselves.

    Leeds is evidence this is not true.

  • 51times

    Sep 16, 2008 at 12:21 PM

    Comment #22

    While I am not pro-Ashley in the slightest, I agree that spending big money on players is not the way to go. But I don’t see why this factors into the argument, not many people were calling for Ashley to spend huge amounts of money this year, personally I just wanted the squad to be big enough to have competition for every position. We don’t have that, yet the Ashley Defence Force jump to defend the honour of their champion Dennis Wise every time someone mentions it and suggest that Keegan wanted unrealistic and/or past it signings like Henry, Lampard etc.

  • Xsico golden boot

    Sep 16, 2008 at 12:24 PM

    Comment #23

    Think this man is wrong I mean lets face it the fans always back the club funny we a club in turmoil have just sold out our west ham allocation the fans love this club and for anyone outside for criticise us for doing so is wrong we all know the structure is ok but you also need people who are very good communicators and take on these roles

  • Michael12

    Sep 16, 2008 at 12:31 PM

    Comment #24

    The club were trying to cut it’s wage bill because Ashley was trying to sort out the finances.

    We only have 11 players on the pitch possibly 14 in a game if we make the three substitutions. Competition for places contradicts the cuts in the wages of the current starting line up.

    Imagine we successfully cut Owen’s wages by £30k then recruited another striker and paid him £30-40K that negates the saving we have made on cutting Owen’s wages. Some players may never get a significant run in the team to justify their wages. Look at Shevchenko at Chelsea, hardly played but was no doubt earning large sums. In an Ideal world with both Owen and Marins fit, it would be hard for other strikers to break in, likewise other positions with those player fit it would be hard for anyone else to break in.

    You look at the opportunity cost, of paying a player who did not play in the last game is simply too high.

    What is the difference a large squad on low wages or a small squad on high wages, about the same financially, no?

  • Micky Toon

    Sep 16, 2008 at 12:35 PM

    Comment #25

    XGB – So in effect then everyone is still going to games, like myself and others who are supposidly “pro-ashley” predicted. As I said last week once everyone had got the frustration out of their system it would be BAU. Sell out away ends and 50,000+ at the home games. Funny how people were saying that the home gate would be 30k or less.

    51 Times – Fair enough about the baggies record but they are still shit. 🙂
    Now we have to ask the question are the fans who have bought tickets for West Ham pro ashley supporters?
    What about the fans who will turn up for the cup game?
    Facetious questions? Perhaps.

  • Michael12

    Sep 16, 2008 at 12:35 PM

    Comment #26

    Dennis wise brought in some potentially good youngsters. I say this because people say he is not doing his job. Consider for a moment. How do we measure how he is doing his job???

    What Barometer do we use? Many fans measure him on whether or not they know the players he brought in or on how they play but remember we will only know in the future because then we will see them play.

    Because you have not seen them play does not mean they are rubbish.

  • DAVE

    Sep 16, 2008 at 12:36 PM

    Comment #27

    To be perfectly honest I would be more than happy to keep Ashley as the owner if he got rid of Lalambias and Wise and brought back Keegan.

    I honestly think the best thing that could happen right now would be for Ashley to stay, bring back Keegan give him full control of transfers in and out, give him some money but not the stupid cash we were all expecting.

    I would even keep Jiminez as he obviously has an eye for a player and has good contacts in Spain, can’t argue with Jonas and Collicini and I expect Xcsico to be a good player.

  • tyneside tommo

    Sep 16, 2008 at 12:53 PM

    Comment #28

    Dave – that’s the most sensible thing I’ve read all day.

    Trouble is I don’t trust Ashley. He would have to change his mindset and realise his Continental structure will never work on Tyneside.

    For me the problem has never been Wise. He’s still in a job cos he’s doing his master’s bidding. That’s why I say Ashley needs to have a rethink and start again. Only I don’t think he’s man enough to do that. Hence the shambolic mess we’re in.

  • Marty

    Sep 16, 2008 at 1:12 PM

    Comment #29

    Guys wake up,KK`s record is not bad but it aint that impresive.Everton have spent less than us over the years and they have managed to be up around 6th place the last few yrs.
    David moyes is a good manager and has his team playing well where as KK and all the other managers we have had in the past have had loads of cash thrown at them and we haven`t been stable in 12yrs or more.
    The last time KK got money he got rid of the youth and reserve end of things and nearly destroyed us although we almost won the league and our playing style was fun.
    If he had of been more carefull then we would have won.

  • Michael12

    Sep 16, 2008 at 1:16 PM

    Comment #30

    Keegan is the problem. Who sets direction of a ship, the captain not the cabin crew.

    Ashley has set a direction for the club and Keegan left saying under the direction set he cannot work.

    Can you not see that your love for him has you demanding his way or no way.

    Under Keegans way he wants carte blanche on all transfers unopposed. Dennis and Lambias out. Who is the Owner Keegan or Ashley?

    Sorry dudes nut I cannot agree with you there.

    A sensible Solution is get a manager who shares this vision, someone who can make stars out of the potential we have. Someone willing to roll up their sleeves and grind out results because there is no easy game out there.

    Someone tactically adroit not naive as Keegan so obviously is.

    Someone who does not sulk and walk out of clubs.

    Someone who does not have a greater influence on the fans as Keegan had.

    The club structure and model are just fine.

    If Keegan said the model was fine tomorrow you would all say it was fine.

  • toontony

    Sep 16, 2008 at 1:23 PM

    Comment #31

    michael 12 what a load of cr@p you talk are you another asshley wise lambias bum licker,
    another lie ashley stated he was told on advice of northumbria police to stay away for fears of being assaulted.
    The police have stated they did not gave ashley any advice,it was his heavies…
    Lies,lies.lies spiderman out for 3/4 weeks guthrie suspended well done wise jiminez for getting more players in to boost the squad…not

  • Stardust

    Sep 16, 2008 at 1:26 PM

    Comment #32

    Great post Michael 12

  • Micky Toon

    Sep 16, 2008 at 1:37 PM

    Comment #33

    Yes it is the owner, chairman and director of football who are at fault for the injury to spidey and they told guthrie to tackle the hull fella.
    Get a grip will ya? You can blame the current incumbents of those posts for a lot of things but you can’t blame them for that.

  • Ian

    Sep 16, 2008 at 1:57 PM

    Comment #34

    toontony, dave and some of the early posts, looks like we are in the minority here, Newcastle supporters, mention ashley and his money and these others crawl out of the woodwork.

  • Michael12

    Sep 16, 2008 at 2:07 PM

    Comment #35

    @Toontony: We are simply trying to have an objective debate. I put my arguments for my thinking and other put their arguments.

    Like you I would live to win silverware and do not care under who we win the silverware. Many people here seem the think it must only be Keegan with whom we win silverware.

    Also, because is of the OPINION that the structure is wrong, fans have therefore declared it wrong.

    We must get it right that for Keegan to demand the resignation of Wise a Lambias he was stepping over his merit.

    He might have had millions in the 90’s but I said it when he came back, those days were over and he had been out of football for so long he found it a different ballgame when he returned.

    This is not a movie where the return of a great, I say great purely out of courtesy for you and those that hold Keegan in such high esteem, brings healing to the sick, sight to the blind and prosperity for all.

    This is just not going to happen unless everything is rigged for it to happen.

    He had autonomy but within reason, if the players he wanted were young, cheap and had potential then yes but if they were old, expensive and not hungry then, no.

    Look, recent history shows us what happened when we splashed out on “Established” players.

    Kulivert, Luque, Boomsong, Viduka, Cacapa. All of whom have played in the highest level i.e world tournaments, Champions league and all of whom command stratospheric wages. The wages did not justify the benefits they brought to the club.

    They see us a retirement home.

    We need to think about the future gain a competitive advantage somewhere. Ashley targeted the Academies.

    Remember that in 2010 – 2012 There is a limit to the number of foreign players a club can have. Ashley knows this and set up measure to ensure we are competitive then by breeding young talent now so we reap the rewards then.

    Time is a small sacrifice to make. We want the next Alan Shearer born and bred in Newcastle rather than a Robinho who only has a bag of party tricks he displays when playing Barcelona.

    The model is for sustainability not a fluke season in which we win then back to the mire for the next 15 years.

    Think about the future. Seneca: “The man who considers his generation alone is born for few”.

  • tyneside tommo

    Sep 16, 2008 at 2:37 PM

    Comment #36

    Delighted we’re all following Ed’s “civil” code. Hate to think where we’d be without it.

  • lesh

    Sep 16, 2008 at 2:53 PM

    Comment #37

    I’m not sure that folk were crying out for big-money spends when all they wanted to see was some method and planning to player recruitment.

    Does it not all boil down to a miserable failure in communication within the club?

    KK has high aspirations for the club;
    A budget / transfer strategy set in place;
    KK clearly not fully bought into it;
    Wise et al at loggerheads with KK;
    KK apparently ignorant of transfer activities;
    Llambias failing to ensure internal dialogue
    M Ashley likewise

    Add to that the fact that the fans had nothing to feed on but speculation based on ill-informed snippets gained by or dreamt up by the media plus wishful thinking on KK’s behalf.

    Sorry, I’ll say it again, the wrong ones survived.

    The result of all of that is plain for all to see.

    The price to pay…..?

    The moral…..

  • bettyswollocks

    Sep 16, 2008 at 3:26 PM

    Comment #38

    for anyone who questions keegans judgement at picking a player i would suggest you weren’t old enough to follow football pre-1996. He picked gem after gem after gem and quite frankly if anyone suggests that he couldn’t have led the recruitment team instead of having it forced on him then you’re mad. Just off the top of my head:

    rob lee
    andy cole
    philipe albert

    He also converted steve howey from a useless striker to an england center half.

    It’s also balls to suggest he needs trucks of money. He started off with small purchases first time round – the transfers just grew alongside the growth of the club.

    ideally we would have had this global structure with keegan heading it. If that had been the case from the beginning there wouldnt be a problem now.

  • Ian

    Sep 16, 2008 at 3:39 PM

    Comment #39

    bettyswallocks you are right, has anyone else ever dragged a club up so many places before in the history of the now premiership??? Keegan dragged us in to the premiership and up to top spot for a moment, how many places did we move up over all of his stint with us?

    I thought he may have lost it, but as soon as he had the full same team that Sam had, once the ANC was finished, he showed us his ability again.

    Sam was and maybe still is rated as a good premiership manager and Keegan showed him how it should be done.

    There is no doubt at all Keegan is a quality manager, all he needs next time is a contract which the public know what has been offered in team terms and the extent of everyone’s control, that way of anything goes wrong the fans will know who is at fault, even the fans wouldnt back Keegan if they knew he was at fault.

  • Davey G

    Sep 16, 2008 at 3:49 PM

    Comment #40


    Remember how wrong you were about Fat Sam.

    I predict you will be WRONG again about our New signings.

    Reasons? All new signings start well….

    Lets see what that little table looks like come january, when I predict rightly again that you will be wrong, wrong wrong!!!



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