There’s no doubt at all that Newcastle have made massive strides forward since the club was relegated from the Premier League for the first time ever in May of 2009.
Mike Ashley – not on the same wavelength as Newcastle fans
And for most of the time Mike Ashley has made the right decisions since that terrible low point for the club, starting with loaning the club over £30M during the promotion season, so that Newcastle could keep high wage earners like Coloccini, Barton, Gutierrez, Nolan and others with the club, and have a big edge over the other Championship sides.
That seemed to work like a charm, as Chris Hughton did a wonderful job in having the side amass 102 points with 30 wins and only four defeats, and winning automatic promotion by 23 points from 3rd placed Nottingham Forest, who were on 79 points.
And Newcastle made a very decent start back in the Premier League last year, although the firing of Chris Hughton and the selling of Andy Carroll were hardly well received by Newcastle fans.
But in retrospect they have not had the negative effect some of us through they would have.
And this season, things are like a dream, with Newcastle 3rd top of the Premier League, and not only has the side amassed 25 points from 11 games, but they are playing well too, and the summer transfer business now seems to have been very good indeed.
The strategy that Mike put in place, bringing in top youngsters, and looking for bargain buys in the transfer market, seems to be working very well, and certainly Chief Scout Graham Carr has done a great job in scouting top talent for Newcastle over the last 18 months or so.
So everything was going well when the International break came along, but Mike Ashley has always shocked Newcastle fans, and he did it again during by announcing that he was changing the St. James’ Park name to Sports Direct Arena.
And that was supposed to be an interim deal until a new sponsor could be secured to pay for the naming rights of the Stadium – said to be worth up to £10M a year.
And since Northern Rock are pulling out of their shirt sponsor deal early, there is a chance that a single company, maybe some brand like Nike, could be the sponsor of both the shirts and training gear, and the stadium.
But Newcastle and St. James’ Park have been indelibly linked for over 120 years, so it’s hardly a surprise that Newcastle fans were upset by the move.
And since top clubs like Manchester United, and Liverpool have not had to resort to th renaming of their famous stadiums, and since they seem to be doing just fine in terms of generating revenue, surely there are other revenue streams that could have been explored.
Getting back into European competition is a big one of course.
A source said to be close to Ashley – probably Derek LLambias if we were to hazard a guess – told the People on Sunday:
“Mike understands the massive backlash he has had from the Newcastle supporters. And to tell the truth he is irritated by it all.”
“He cannot understand why some supporters are saying he is trying to destroy the club after all he has done in the past couple of years.”
“He does not mind if those supporters still refer to the stadium as St James’ Park. He would not expect anything else. This is purely a commercial decision – a decision he feels had to be made.”
“Roman Abramovich is a heck of a lot richer than he is yet he is not receiving anywhere near as much flak as Mike in his bid to sell the naming rights at Chelsea.”
“Mike would like the supporters to look at where Newcastle United are compared with a couple of years ago when we were in the Championship with massive debts and too many average players earning massive salaries.”
The fact that Mike Ashley doesn’t understand is hardly surprising, because in truth he has never been on the same wavelength as Newcastle fans, and the fact he never speaks to them is Mike’s single biggest blunder since he bought the club in the summer of 2007.
If Mike wants to get a better rapport going with the Newcastle fans, he should hire a PR company and take their advice, and also stop his top executive at Newcastle, Derek LLambias, from slagging Newcastle heroes like Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan, which Derek did last week in a foul mouthed tirade.
That was just a daft thing to do, and Derek was asking for trouble.
Some of the mistakes Mike has made are of his own making, and the first step to getting on better terms with Newcastle fans, if that’s what he wants to do, would be to start talking to them.
And try to better explain what he wants to do with the famous Newcastle United club – that cannot be too hard – surely.