Former Newcastle United Chairman Freddy Shepherd celebrated his 70th birthday last night with a party in London, a big party in London.
Freddy Shepherd – just turned 70 – fans should get behind Ashley
And Freddy of course was born and bred in Newcastle, brought up in Byker, and is the son of a lorry driver.
With the help of his brother Bruce, they expanded a road haulage business into a series of marine related businesses, and redeveloped property of former ship facilities along the River Tyne.
Freddy was Chairman of Newcastle for almost 10 years from December 1st, 1997 until he was almost forced to sell his shares to Mike Ashley in the summer of 2007.
In May of 2007, Shepherd learned that Billionaire Businessman Mike Ashley had purchased the Hall family’s 41.6% shareholding in the Newcastle club for for £55M, about £1 per share.
Under London Stock Exchange rules, Ashley then had to submit an offer for the remaining shares, and should Mike’s holding go over 50%, he would be in control of the club and Freddy Shepherd wouldn’t, and Mike could then choose his own Board of Directors.
After initially fighting the takeover, in early June of 2007, Mike Ashley had a bid accepted by Freddy Shepherd to buy all his shares, and in his role as Chairman of the Board, Shepherd then advised the remaining shareholders to sell to Ashley.
And that’s a brief history of how Mike Ashley acquired Newcastle United, but not surprisingly Freddy and Mike never saw eye to eye about the way Newcastle should be run.
But Shepherd admitted last this last night:
“I am still a massive Newcastle fan. True to say Mike and I have not always seen eye to eye but you’ve got to give him some of the credit for what is happening this season.”
“I think it’s time for the fans to get fully behind him and give him a chance. After all, no one really owns Newcastle because it’s simply a football institution.”
“Maybe he is right in his policy and I was wrong. Maybe we gave our managers too much money to spend in the transfer market. I reckon we spent around £300M on players like Alan Shearer, David Ginola, Les Ferdinand, Tino Asprilla and Michael Owen.”
“Though we never won anything, it was still a great adventure for everyone connected with Newcastle. We were known all over the world. I have a photo of the day they pulled down Saddam Hussein’s statue in Iraq – there was a guy with a Toon shirt beside it.”
“The fans are now clearly behind Alan Pardew and the team, and if they get behind the directors the only way they can go is up.” “I am a Geordie. You can change your bank, your accountant, your wife, but you can’t change your football team.”
Those are good words from Freddy, and it certainly seems that fans are getting behind Alan Pardew, his coaching staff – with local lad John Carver now Assistant Manager – as well as his players this season.
Whether the fans will ever be fully behind Mike Ashley we don’t know, but certainly there’s some solidity to the Newcastle club this season, and Alan Pardew has done a terrific job in just over 10 months on Tyneside.
Now to beat Stoke City tomorrow night, and of course if we take a point from that game, we’ll be 3rd top of the league, after Arsenal hammered a woeful looking Chelsea side 5-3 yesterday, and at Stamford Bridge.
Howay The Lads!!