Mike Ashley was labelled as one of the worst examples of ‘bad owners’ when it comes to Premier League clubs.
Jeremy Corbyn going on the offensive when making a speech in Newcastle last weekend.
The Labour Party leader outlining how he/they wanted to tackle the problems caused by club owners such as Mike Ashley, when they abuse their position of power.
Mike Ashley then responded angrily (see below) to Jeremy Corbyn’s comments, releasing an official statement via the football club.
Now, fans organisation The Magpie Group have responded to what Mike Ashley said in his/the club’s statement on Tuesday.
The Magpie Group response on 11 October 2019 reacting to the NUFC/Mike Ashley Statement (see below) released on 8 October 2019:
In response to NUFC’s statement, we feel it is blatantly obvious that Mike Ashley HAS put his business interests above everything else. The growth of the club has completely
stagnated since his arrival.
In 2007 our commercial revenue was £28m, in 2018 it was £27m.
Initially you may think it’s only £1m difference, but when you consider the growth of the Premier League over those 11yrs and how other clubs’ commercial revenue has risen in line with that, then you realise it’s a massive red flag.
For example, West Ham United’s commercial revenue was £16m in 2007 and jumped up to £31m in 2018. It is worth noting they were also relegated during that time period.
The difference is they are not hampered by one man’s business interests.
Mike Ashley’s retail shop signs have been plastered all over St. James’ Park & the training ground since his arrival and has been a constant eye-sore at what Sir Bobby Robson once dubbed ‘the cathedral on the hill’. They have only started paying a fee for this in recent years, the latest figure 2m a year. In our opinion, a measly figure for the in-your-face exposure they receive on a global scale as well as the fact they didn’t pay before that.
We don’t think it’s a company which inspires others to be associated alongside it (and in turn NUFC) either, considering 76 ambulances were called to the retailers main warehouse in under 2 years.
When you look at the finances of NUFC and Tottenham when Ashley took over to now, it is another clear demonstration of the complete stagnation he has brought to the club financially. In short, NUFC is being used as a billboard ad and not being run as a club
looking to grow.
Of course, NUFC are not Bury or Coventry City and are not in financial ruin. Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley like to hide behind phrases like ‘well run’ and ‘financially responsible’ to deflect criticism and create a straw man argument. No-one is saying they are in the same position as those clubs mentioned, whose plights are utterly shocking to see.
NUFC is a club being suffocated by one man’s interest, unable to grow – existing to simply exist.
If Mike Ashley and his MD were so proud of being financially sustainable, they would not allow his retail company to seemingly prevent the club from growing further.
When anyone takes a look at the commercial deal he has put in place at Rangers FC we think it becomes very obvious what Mike Ashley’s main interest is in owning a football club.
‘As a well run club’ the club say in their statement – consider the appointments made since Mike Ashley’s ownership; Dennis Wise as Director of Football, during which he lied to then manager Kevin Keegan, asking him to look up a player on blurry YouTube videos that the
club wanted to sign and then admitting to him the deal was actually a favour for agents. ‘Treated like dirt’ was how Keegan described his experience under Ashley and his under-qualified directors. Keegan also went on to express his surprise that the FA hadn’t
investigated the deal. Remember though – ‘as a well-run club’.
Or remember the time when Jonas Gutierrez won a tribunal case against the club for discrimination, after he was diagnosed with cancer. During the tribunal our current MD Lee Charnley was described as ‘lacking credibility’. Remember – ‘as a well-run club’.
There is also the case of the lease on the land behind the Gallowgate End. The land was sold by Mike Ashley for £9m, can the club confirm whether Ashley has made any profit from the lease being sold in any way? Not only this, but there are plans to build apartments &
offices and there has been nothing mentioned around safeguarding the possibility of Gallowgate End expansion. Can this be confirmed or is this the club not being allowed to grow once again? If any deal done by Mike Ashley has or will prevent the ground’s potential
expansion in the future, then that is an absolute disgrace. But don’t forget – ‘as a well-run club’.
There are countless other decisions that have been made which ultimately led to relegation twice so far during Ashley’s reign – it is a completely dysfunctional football club which deserves all of the scrutiny it is receiving and more.
Ultimately if Ashley is so transparent and a good businessman, he would see no issue in having fan representatives on the board. He would work with us, not against us; actions speak louder than words.
The Magpie Group
That Official Mike Ashley Statement put out through Newcastle United on 8 October 2019:
Newcastle United has issued the following statement in response to recent comments made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“We are disappointed by comments made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at the weekend regarding football governance and club ownership, in which he specifically attacked Newcastle United.
“Amongst his comments, Mr Corbyn accused ‘billionaire owners like Mike Ashley’ of ‘ruining our national game’, claiming these ‘bad owners’ put their ‘business interests above everything else’ and risk their clubs’ financial security.
“In overlooking existing governance and regulation, as well as the hugely positive impact Newcastle United and other professional clubs have in their communities, Mr Corbyn has demonstrated a surprising lack of knowledge about our national game.
“We feel, therefore, it is important to address his damaging and misinformed opinions in the interests of the club and its supporters.
“Financially, other than sums provided to the club on a short-term, interest-free basis and repaid to him as intended, we would like to make it clear that Mike Ashley has not taken a penny out of Newcastle United in interest, salary or dividend, as is customary at many clubs.
“As stated on numerous occasions before, every penny Newcastle United has will continue to be available to it. In this financial year, the club will use an overdraft facility to manage its cashflow following a significant spend on talent in the summer. As a well-run, responsible club, that amount will be repaid in full and on time and our other regulatory obligations will be met.
“We will not apologise for being financially sustainable, but we will push the boundaries of our budgets as far as possible to maximise the impact on the team.
We agree with Mr Corbyn that ‘a football club is more than just a club; it is an institution at the heart of our communities’.
“That is why our vast work across the local community will continue, with Newcastle United Foundation providing services and support to tens of thousands of people in our region each year who truly need them.
“Often, Newcastle United Foundation’s projects fill in significant gaps that the public sector sadly cannot stretch to, particularly at a time when government cuts are so prevalent.
“We would like to invite Mr Corbyn to visit one of these initiatives to experience at first hand the incredible work that is being undertaken by the Foundation in our local community every day.”
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