Mike Ashley is a self-made man, and he’s done extremely well in his business career, so much so that he’s a Billionaire, and even now his sports empire – Sports Direct – seems to be breaking all financial records, and the company and Ashley are doing extremely well.
Mike Ashley and Joe Kinnear
When Sports Direct went public in early 2007, Mike used some of his new found wealth – around £135M of it to be exact – to buy Newcastle United and suddenly we had a Billionaire owner and spirits were high on Tyneside.
But Mike has turned out to be one of the few Billionaire owners not to invest too much into his club, other than to pay off debts of maybe around another £150M that Freddy Shepherd had amassed, and give Newcastle interest free loans – which save the club big money every year.
And in retrospect Ashley has stabilized the club financially. and Newcastle are now expected to be in the red from now on – and make profits – and that’s good.
There are a number of things the owner has found difficult at Newcastle, and he keeps making mistakes which upset Newcastle fans.
There have been a number of them. and one was last summer when he hired Joe Kinnear, a Londoner, who fans never really took to when Joe managed the club during the relegation season.
And then the bizarre story at the Sunderland game on Sunday, other than a team with one point from eight games managed to beat us, was that he banned the local reporters of the Chronicle, Journal and Sunday Sun from asking Alan Pardew questions after the game.
Surely the owner knew that would only bring him more bad headlines and ridicule in the press, which ir has done, and doesn’t help to get the fans on his side.
But it’s an example of some of the bad mistakes Mike Ashley continues to make at Newcastle, and his actions seem to go against the very people who are his customers at Newcastle United.
The next stage in Newcastle’s progress is to make the team into a top six side again, but that goal is proving hard to attain, although everything looked good a short 14 months ago when we had finished 5th top.
Bit surely Mike Ashley needs to attempt to get closer to the fans, who after all are his customers.
Mike could hire somebody at a high executive level, whose job was to get the club closer to the fans, and find out what the fans want, like Chris Mort used to do when he was the Chairman back in 2007-2008.
Wendy Taylor was starting to do some of that, but it needs somebody higher up the club, and Wendy has lost some credibility being the person who prevented reporters like Lee Ryder from asking questions on Sunday, even if she was just carrying out orders from above.
Responsible groups like NUFC Fans United have proved they are willing to have good honest and professional discussions with Newcastle officials, about where the club should be going and what they should be doing.
Mike’s biggest problem at Newcastle has been his relationship with the fans, and this is one way he could do something about it, and for the better of all concerned.
When you think that companies like IBM spend so much time, money and effort on what customers want – and then give them those things – in IBM’s case they are products – it seems that’s the biggest thing Mike Ashley has failed to do at Newcastle – so far anyway.
Maybe it can change?