Mike Ashley – The Jekyll & Hyde of Football


Having looked at and praised Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy in our recent article (click here to take a butchers), we now take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum, at Newcastle owner and Chairman Mike Ashley.

Since buying the club from Freddie Shepherd in June 2007, Mike Ashley’s Newcastle history has been chequered to say the least. Every shrewd move he has pulled, such as bringing in Hatem Ben Arfa for £7m or even selling Andy Carroll to Liverpool for an extortionate £35m has been followed by a series of comical mistakes, all of which have thrust the famed club into the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

Some fans still have an air of respect for the man who saved Newcastle from going into the oblivion of bankruptcy and liquidation (according to the one man fans trusted – Chris Mort). The fans at the opposite end of the spectrum seem to think that having Freddie Shepherd back would be better, a good proportion are in between – appreciating what he has done but at the same time recognizing the silly mistakes the billionaire tycoon has made in his 6 years at St James Park.

In transfer dealings alone, he is up £18m over 6 years, with the sales of Milner, N’Zogbia, Given and Carroll contributing to an income of £136m, with an outlay of around £118m. His lack of care and respect for loyal paying fans is what disgusts most, with the club rarely ever communicating with them. Again, in his defence, he has always been one for affordable tickets, charging as little as £18 for an adult ticket, whereas you look at the Man Utd’s, Chelsea’s and Arsenal’s of the league who charge a minimum of £45-50!

After buying the club, the list of mistakes made may be into double figures. Here is what he has done over the years:

  • Signed off Allardyce deals for the likes of Viduka, Geremi and Smith
  • Appointed Dennis Wise as Director of Football under Keegan
  • Took Wise’ advice to sign Nacho Gonzalez and Xisco over Schweinsteiger
  • Appointed Kinnear (Twice), Shearer and to an extent Llambias
  • Sell to Buy policy
  • Sacking Hughton (Debatable)
  • Renaming Stadium/Wonga Sponsorsip
  • After finishing 5th, not investing – only buying Vurnon Anita, Gael Bigirimana and Curtis Good
  • Severe lack of communication with fans and to an extent the media

In his defence, he has done a lot of good in his time:

  • Bringing in Graham Carr as head of scouting
  • Sanctioning the signings of talented players, some of the best the club have ever seen, such as Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Coloccini, Demba Ba, Cisse and Santon
  • Interest free loan paying off Shepherd debt (£133m)
  • Financing the Championship season, despite the bank pulling out the massive overdraft, keeping the core of the squad together
  • Difficulty to negotiate with – always gets the best deal for NUFC
  • Ticket freezing and affordable ticket prices for all fans

As you can see, it is stacked against him at the moment, supporting our view of his Jekyll & Hyde personality when it comes to making decisions at Newcastle. Currently, Newcastle lie bottom of the league after a 4-0 hammering at Man City – and with only Loic Remy purchased on loan so far, and Yohan Cabaye about to depart for pastures new, he has little time to reinforce a wilting squad after Steven Taylor was sent off for a stupid attack on Sergio Aguero and Jonas Gutierrez picked up an injury. Players such as Cheick Tiote and Tim Krul have asked for new players – although pictures have surfaced of Pardew, Carr, Kinnear and Finance man Lee Charnley in France at the Lyon game against Real Sociedad, with interest in Bafetimbi Gomis, Yoann Gourcuff as well as Florian Thauvin said to be heightening after the Man City game. Scouts were also in Slovenia for Maribor’s game, with Macedonian ace Agim Ibraimi being sounded out as a possible target, available for £3m.

Should Cabaye go for around the £15-20m mooted, that money could well be spent on those three – Thauvin available for £8m, Gomis for £7m and Gourcuff for a similar sum – but with the bumbling buffoon Kinnear in charge of overseeing transfers he may have to get his hands dirty like January in order to force through some moves. Should he fail, another season of embarrassing loses beckons for an already thin squad, where 16 players who had played some part last season have left on permanent or loan deals, such as Haris Vuckic, James Perch, Danny Simpson and Steve Harper.

With the extra TV money coming into play this season, he has two choices – sign some quality players like Southampton, Norwich and Aston Villa are doing and compete for the top 8 and win £80m +, or keep the current crop and be content with 17th every season – or if it goes wrong, relegation again.

Will he risk losing out on a minimum of £60m a season, or will he delve into the market and purchase much needed players for squad depth? Only time will tell.