Over here on NBC Sports on Monday afternoon was an hour-long lead in to the game between Stoke City and Newcastle United, and during that time the two NBC analysts Robbie Mustow, the former Middlesbrough midfielder and Robbie Earle, the former Wimbledon midfielder explained to the American audience just how big a club Newcastle are.
Mike Ashley – Newcastle’s decline to continue
With Newcastle’s magnificent 52,000 capacity St. James’ Park Stadium and their legendary fan support, both analysts said the fans deserved a lot better than what they were getting under owner Mike Ashley, who runs Newcastle as through it was purely a business enterprise.
Robbie Earle said there was a big difference in running a football club than running a business, and while Mike Ashley may have been immensely successful in running his Sport Direct business, he has not been successful at all in running Newcastle United.
We’re not sure why Ashley even felt inclined to buy Newcastle back in 2007, when he was flush with money after taking Sports Direct public.
But his view of the club hardly matches that of the fans – who want and expect Newcastle United to be pushing for a top six spot in the Premier League – but all we are being told by the current manager Alan Pardew is that ¨reasonable¨ Newcastle fans know that’s not a reality these days.
We haven’t met too many of those reasonable Newcastle fans.
In short, this seems to be Mike Ashley’s policy of running Newcastle:
- Buy young players cheaply from places like France and Holland, so they have sell-on value
- If and when any player become really good, sell them at a huge profit – examples Andy Carroll, Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy
- Sell a player at any time if a club comes in and matches the price the owner has placed on the player
- At all costs keep Newcastle in the Premier League so that the global advertising vehicle for Sports Direct – which is Newcastle United Football Club – is seen by the largest world-wide audience possible
- Have the team be good enough so that we don’t have to fight relegation
- Ensure the financial records of the club as good as they can be, and notice that every one of the points above help that goal
But the best players at Newcastle have already realized the club will be going nowhere with Mike Ashley in charge, and they want out – and that’s happened with Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy and the most recent seems to be Cheick Tiote – who has said yesterday he wants a new challenge away from Newcastle but wants to remain in England – that’s code for he wants a move to Arsenal.
So maybe Newcastle will continue to get in players who become gems – like Yohan Cabaye – but we will sell them pretty quickly, and until Mike Ashley put some priority on building a good team, Newcastle will be going nowhere – other than further into mediocrity.
And if Adam Armstrong fulfills his enormous potential within the next couple of years, does anybody really believe he will be a Newcastle player when he turns 20 in February of 2017?
The only way out we can see out of this predicament with Ashley, is if a consortium comes in with an unsolicited offer, and offers Ashley a decent profit on Newcastle.
Even if the fans get him to agree to try to sell the club again, that will not be easy, and he’s already put Newcastle up for sale twice – with no buyers – and we notice that Randy Lerner is having difficulty flogging Aston Villa – even at a loss on what he paid for the club.
Lerner has put around £250M into the club in total since he bought it eight years ago, and he wanted to sell it for £200M in May – but that figure is thought to have been reduced to around £100M – there’s just no way Mike Ashley would take a similar loss on Newcastle United.
The best chance we have of Mike Ashley leaving Newcastle is if an unsolicited bid comes in from a consortium (who want to restore Newcastle to their former greatness), and it gives Mike a handy profit – then he would sell Newcastle for the money.
After all, that’s how he runs Newcastle – for the money.
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