News broke last week that Newcastle United owner, Mike Ashley, has decided he wants to sell his ownership in the Premier League club.
However, this statement of intent has become the norm, with Ashley stating his desire to sell the club plenty of times during his 10-year spell with the Magpies. But, where do Newcastle sit if the club was to be sold?
Ashley is famously known for his role as Executive Chairman of high street retailer, Sports Direct, and has a net worth according to Forbes of $3.2 billion. It was 10 years ago when the Englishman paid a believed £134 million for the acquisition of the Geordie club. Yet, it’s fair to say his relationship with the Newcastle and their fans has been extremely topsy-turvy, many angry with the fact the club has become an advertising campaign for his business, Sports Direct.
Some claim that the asking price of Ashley is extortionate and it’s believed he is seeking a buyer to pay £300-£400m for the club. This is without accounting for spend for Rafa Benitez and transfers, with Ashley never being one to dig-deep to fund the clubs’ talent pool, the club will look for an owner who is passionate and puts money into the necessities with the team. The risk for a new owner is if the club don’t spend on transfers, they risk stagnation in an extremely competitive Premier League which presents the danger of relegation – a real blow to any current Premier League side.
There are reportedly a number of interested buyers who have all signed NDA’s with Ashley. Yet, a name which keeps appearing is Amanda Staveley, manager of the PCP Capital investment fund. She was present at the clubs 1-1 draw with Liverpool earlier this month, which may show her intent in acquiring the team and those who work alongside her have stated she is generally interested in buying the club.
Mike Ashley stated in 2016 that he ‘regretted’ buying the club in 2007 and is hopeful to seal a deal before Christmas. This news will please a lot of the Toon Army after the turbulent relationship between Ashley and the fans. It is also reported current manager, Rafa Benitez, is struggling with his relationship with the business tycoon and its feared Benitez may be lured away from Newcastle if Ashley stays.
Ashley however, has seen favourable times at the club, in the 2011-12 season the club finished 5th and found themselves playing Europa League football. But, it’s reasonable to say, these were the last real ‘glory days’ down in the Toon. If Ashley is to find a buyer who is willing to inject resources into the club, it would be no surprise to see Newcastle stabilise themselves back in the Premier League and push for these Europe nights again. Let’s not forget, before Ashley’s ownership, Newcastle were a Champions League club in the days of Sir Bobby Robson. Some things don’t change though, and Newcastle fans still definitely don’t lack any passion, and the dedication of the 50,000+ Toon Army gives the club a fantastic base to be successful.
It is important for the new owner to build a repor with the fans. A memory a lot of fans recall from Ashley’s early time with the club is him spending away games in with the fans and drinking beer at local pubs. This is not what I’m suggesting a new owner does but ever since Ashley changed the name of the famous ‘St James’ Park’ to ‘the Sport Direct Arena’, the fans relationship with him hasn’t been too sweet. It seems the fans have lost trust in Ashley and don’t want him representing their club. The importance of keeping fans on side and showing them you care is the most critical aspect of a new owner in the Toon and maybe the ‘glory days’ will return once more to Tyneside.
Written by Eamon Kitching.