What’s the deal Mike?

Posted on February 26th, 2011 | 60 Comments |

What are Mike Ashley's intentions for Newcastle United?
What's the plan Mike?
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley continues to be a perpetual source of confusion, at least for this writer.

I’m confused. Which is to say that I’m more confused than normal. For starters I’m confused as to how an email address that has never been used by me anywhere and was only set up last week has ended up on some spam lists. It’s already getting about 10 emails a day offering to increase the size of certain parts of my body, reduce the size of others or somehow make me rich from under my duvet.

But that’s an aside. What I’m confused about for the purposes of this article is Newcastle United.

We have at the helm of our club a certain Mike Ashley and I confess to not having a clue where he’s coming from and, more to the point, where he’s planning on going.

Ashley has threatened to sell the club more than once and the last I heard was that it was still his intent to sell it, but that he needed to secure Premier League safety in order to get his asking price. Has that changed?

I ask because a man whose sole purpose is to create something to sell is going to approach things with a different intent than a man whose purpose is to build something for the long-term. I think this is important and I haven’t got a clue which category Ashley now falls into.

What I’d like to see is an announcement from Mike Ashley explaining his intentions, but then again I’d like a Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale, an island in the South Pacific and regular bedroom visits from the Minogue sisters, but those things aren’t likely to happen either.

I’m not what you’d call a rampant Ashely basher but neither do I want to have the man’s babies. He’s made plenty mistakes but he’s also had some good ideas and I try to mix cynicism about him with the positives in roughly equal measure. In the recent poll on this site I placed myself in the ‘maybe – I’ll wait and see’ category when it came to wondering if Ashley is good for this club.

Let’s take, for example, the recent extended contract of Cheick Tiote. The optimist will see that as a good thing because we’re tying in a highly-rated player until 2017. The pessimist, though, will just point to the fact that Andy Carroll had signed a long contract and it made absolutely no difference when Liverpool came calling with £35m in used notes.

For me – a self-confessed fence-sitter – something like the Tiote contract is a quandary. The delight at securing the services of the player is tempered by the fact that a contract obviously makes no difference if another club comes calling with the appropriate lolly. And I can’t put it into the context of the owner’s intentions because I don’t know what they are.

For reasons which further demonstrate my confusion (and unerring ability to find tangents) it puts me in mind of the ‘only one owner from new’ tag that’s applied to used car sales as some sort of positive selling point. Why is that a good thing? Surely it depends upon whether that one owner was a retired cleric who only used the car to drive little old ladies to church on a Sunday, or whether that one owner was a suicidal maniac who moonlighted as a getaway driver. Context – that’s what I’m getting at.

We are told that Ashley wants to build a sort of new Arsenal, which (if done properly) is a fine idea. But it’s difficult to get enthusiastic about that when the last thing we heard from the man who wants to build this new Arsenal is that he wants to sell the club.

There still seems to be a marked division in opinions about Ashley. If this site’s poll is anything to go by then only 12% of fans think he’s doing a good job, whilst 35% of fans think he stinks. Most fans are – like me – waiting to see what happens: 48% of them in fact, so I’m pleased I’m not the only fence-sitter around.

I’m just raising a lot of guff really. I could try to sound all arty and call it ‘stream of consciousness’ writing, but we really know that it’s just my usual random, disorganised rambling!

Anyway, I’ll clear off and go and be confused about something else now, possibly breakfast. Hmm, one egg or two with my scrapple and jellied cow’s foot? Tough decision for a fence-sitter like me.

I’ll leave you with a request: if anyone knows what Mike Ashley is really up to, please let me know.

PS. Entries for this week’s Prediction Competition will be locked at midday today, so if you want to enter please do so before then.

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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60 Responses

  1. Mike only wanted to sell the club because we, the fans, were hounding him after the Keegan affair. Time to get behind him and the club?

  2. hugh crackin photo m8 << and hugh iwhen i mentioned the blog was running slow last nite i noticed after my comp was starting a scan :lol: sorry m8 it must of been that

  3. batty, thanks re the server. I’ll run some monitoring this weekend anyway as it can’t hurt. I actually monitor loads all the time but reducing the ‘trigger load’ means I’ll get notification earlier and more often if they climb. It’s useful to do that sometimes anyway.

  4. I think everything about him will be clear this summer. Ashley vision, Clum ambition and future plan we cannot judge it yet. Time will tell especially this summer.

  5. hum.. let me see.. do i like ashley nad think he is good for our club????………..YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME LOL LOL LOL
    Tiote was signed up for several reasons… they know it makes huge business sense as the longer the time to run on his contract the higher his value to buy him from us. Same as a car depreciates in value the older it gets. A tiote on 6.5 year deal is big asset. That is one reason.. second is they have given the THICK fans a sweetener which they hope will off-set the departure of barton and jose. Ashley you money grabbing fat knacker!

  6. Cracking article this Hugh mate. It pretty much sums up how the majority of us r thinking right now. We genuinely don’t have a clue what Ashley’s up to. Things are looking quite rosy for our club atm but that s normally just when Ashley drops one of his trademark bombshells on us-which made me even more surprised to hear the great news of it’s signing Tiote and Carver yesterday.

    Bunk along on that fence mate coz thats where am seat aswell. At least we’re all intrigued and a little excited again!

  7. Good work Hugh, very well written article. I personally am also waiting to see what happens with Mike Ashley. I was disgusted by Chris Hughton’s sacking but I don’t think we can blame Mike Ashley for Andy Carroll leaving. £35m+ was simply impossible to turn down for a player who has only played half a season in the Premiership, is constantly picking up niggles and has had numerous scrapes with the law that have tarnished the club’s image. It was an absurd amount of money. Besides, did the club hold a gun to Carroll’s head and force him to sign a transfer request, get in Ashley’s chopper then sign a contract at Liverpool? No. If a club offered a similar amount for Tiote, I would fully understand if the club accepted that as well. It doesn’t matter how much it hurts us to lose the players we love, it’s just good business at the end of the day and good business is exactly what we need our owner to be doing. It wouldn’t have happened under Freddy Shepherd but he almost bankrupted us, so I know which owner I prefer. I think we should all give Ashley the benefit of the doubt – sacking Hughton is the only questionable thing he’s done since we were relegated. People are asking why Tiote got this new contract but I bet those same people were asking for that contract before he signed it! Ashley certainly doesn’t want another Enrique situation where we stand to lose one of our best players on the cheap. It’s quite obviously a sensible move. Let’s just sit back and hope that Barton – and maybe even Enrique – sign up next.

  8. divent worry fatty will push most of you off the fence in summer intoo hating him agen ,fatty oot

  9. It will be perfect for this season business if Barton and Jose sign new contract the n we can focus to the new player.

  10. 16 & 17…. looks like you are both in the wrong as barton has just said that he is waiting till the summer to decide now, same as enrique. Now aint that a funny thing??? The club try to deflect more negaitve press with bartons contract knock back by signing up tiote……..everyone needs to crasp that tiote signing only makes him more attractive for selling purposes.
    i dont get Pards waffle at all.. he truly is a mikle ashley rent boy. He says that by us signing up tiote is a huge message of intent and makes up for carroll leaving.. how the hell is that ffs?? Then he says that IF we bring in some new players in summer… theres that word – IF.

  11. Good article Hugh, says what the majority of think in regard to Ashley.

    I do believe that bonny lass is Ashleys daughter, must take after her mam.

  12. You can never second guess Mike Ashley. He is as secretive in his business dealings, incedently which he is very good at.
    The one statement that keeps coming out that is fact is they want the club to be self sufficient, so you can read into that if we do not put enough bums on seats, buy enough from the club shop, or the team dont finish high enough to gain the prize money then the assets(players) will be sold to balance the books..End of!!!!!

  13. These are valid questions – Ashley seems to be in a “should I stay or should I go?” state of mind a lot of the time. I agree with all those who say that whilst they blame him for CH sacking, they don’t for accepting £35 million for AC and whilst I love Tiote I wouldn’t blame them if they couldn’t turn down £35 million for him – although I genuinely think they want to hold onto them.
    The latest thing I saw quoted on some site from someone near Ashley is that whilst in the past he was looking to sell, he now wants to stay and build a successful club – but wants to have the club in a financial state where he isn’t forking out an extra £15 million of his own money every season.
    Just a thought on that though: just as every player has his price, the club will have too – I’m sure if some rich Arab came in with an inflated offer for the club (say £250 million cash – unlikely though that scenario is) I am sure that Ashley would take the money and run, whatever his current intentions!

  14. Craig @ 18
    I,m right behind you mate.(metaphorically speaking of course). He will never disclose his buisness plan, especially to the plebs on the terraces. We just pay for his champagne and cover his roulette bills. I also think that although AP is doing a pretty decent job up front, I think he,s just a puppet saying and doing what he,s been told to present to the fans. Time will tell of course, but my advice to all concerned is dont hold your breath.Best of luck today for the lads against the ;piggies;, HWTL.

  15. What ever the Big Fella decides to do with our club we will never know until it happens.

    So I am just gonna sit back and enjoy the rest of the season and see what plays out in the summer.

    Nice pics @ three, I met him on a golf trip, Top Bloke.

  16. magpie6699 says:
    February 26, 2011 at 11:17 am (Edit)

    I’m sure if some rich Arab came in with an inflated offer for the club (say £250 million cash – unlikely though that scenario is) I am sure that Ashley would take the money and run, whatever his current intentions!

    Probably, but I think there’s a big difference between *intending* to build something to sell and simply taking an offer too good to refuse.

  17. Doug says:
    February 26, 2011 at 11:24 am (Edit)

    Nice pics @ three, I met him on a golf trip, Top Bloke.

    Annoyingly neither my sister-in-law nor my nephew actually support Newcastle!

    My sister-in-law is the baggies and my nephew is a West Hamburger.

  18. Hugh,

    You shouldn’t worry about the club being sold as this club like all other clubs in the premiership are available to the (right or wrong) person or persons with the right money.

  19. I just want to comment on Jose and Barton who are now holding off on their respective contracts….Give me a feckin break, what a pair of a*seholes with short memories! Let’s cast our minds back two full seasons ago. Jose was a joke at left back and made more errors than a malfunctioning calculator. Joey was in jail and was such a risk that no one would go near him… Now look, one good year in the top flight and they are making demands and calling the shots… Makes miss piss boil when I hear this kind of talk.. Make no mistake, for all the wrongs a club may make with it’s playing staff, the players themselves are as much to blame. Talk about forgetting where you came from and who helped nuture you through the tought times (whilst you were getting really well paid). Put a respectable offer on the table for both players and if the don’t like it they can f*ck off!!… Look how well Beye, Given, Owen, Martins and Co are doing at their new clubs…

  20. the problem is ashley is a complete moeny orientated c@ck end who never has and never will support newcastle united. He made a business call in rushing in and buying us and then crapped himself at debt which he legally had to pay off (the stadium re-build). so he paid out anying from 1 quid to five hundred billion trillion and has since been skimming it back left right and centre by any means possible. I would imagine he has skimmed enough back to soon be able to sell at a small profit even if he sells it as a club with no debt at 200 million.
    All the good players know this of course so will not sign up again and will instead leave. Our best two players andthe backbone of our team – enrique and barton are leaving in the summer… thats crap lads.

  21. magpie6699

    ‘I’m sure if some rich Arab came in with an inflated offer for the club (say £250 million cash – unlikely though that scenario is) I am sure that Ashley would take the money and run, whatever his current intentions ‘

    If someone came along (even a Sunderland supporter) and offerred you a hugely inflated way above the asking price for your home would you refuse it?

  22. If Barton was to leave, it would be to another mid table club… He will know this and I can’t really see it being a better option to him…

    Jose, if he was to leave.. It will be to a top four club that will demand a lot from him and a club that will have a back up LB that will push him for a place.. Jose is a shinning light in our team but if he leaves and that is a big IF… He will struggle to hold down his spot on the park…

  23. Kamar says:
    February 26, 2011 at 11:34 am (Edit)

    “If someone came along (even a Sunderland supporter) and offerred you a hugely inflated way above the asking price for your home would you refuse it?”

    No, I’d love to sell it to a mackem because I think the front wall’s starting to subside.

    However, if I owned any old football club then I probably would take a decent offer for it. If I owned the Toon it would be a labour of love though.

  24. @28……..the players are doing nothing wrong, they have not asked to leave nad are simply not going to sign new deals with the club. thats their perogative. Jose especially owe newcaslte NOTHING at all. So what, yes he has developed into a great left back. If anything that should have convinced our tos pot owner to invest in the team and show at least some soert of commitment on the pitch. If you were working for a company which was full of high hopes and false promises when you signed up for four years and then during that time you were lied to, bull shi@ted and then you witness your boss sell off as many assetts as possible, try to flog the business several times, sack the General manager about 5 times and then make you an offer which you know is crap at worst and very average at best would you be happy to sign up again?? Or would you perhaps take on of the several better offers that are on the table??

  25. craig chisholm @ 29

    You are talking complete rubbish.

    Ashley has ploughed millions into HIS club. It’s not yours and it’s not mine, its HIS. If he takes money out (and there is no evidence he has) it is because it is HIS money, not yours and not mine.

  26. Kamar, we are footy fans not accountants.. so lets talk about footy please as the bottom line is when it comes to the ‘has he or hasnt he ‘ put money into the club we will never know as his army of top top bean counters can and will distort the figures in any mulitude of directions.

    SO………..KAMAR, the ONLY facts we can go off are footy facts and that is to say that MA has not spent one single penny nad is in the balck to the tune of nearly 40 million on bought to sold. Thats a fact.

  27. Craig, you certainly are an angry fella :) I agree with Kamar… MA has put a lot of money into the club… When he sells a player like Carrol for a swag of money, it doesn’t go into his pocket so he can spend some time at Dereks casino.. It goes toward balancing the books at the club…I really wish people would stand back and have an unbiased look at what is going on.. All this MA bashing is getting really fecking tired.. get over it, this is the way it is..

  28. craig chisholm @ 35

    ‘..that MA has not spent one single penny nad is in the balck to the tune of nearly 40 million on bought to sold. Thats a fact…’

    Is it a fact because you have access to the club’s accounts or are you just talking complete rubbish again?

  29. kamar.. you dfont need to access ashleys books to know if he has spent more on playersthan what he has sold does it. just look bakc since he bought the club at what he has bought. then look at what he has sold nad there is your answer fella. Thats not rocket science is it?
    We need to go way back to last season to dig out the quotes from owl heed when he said we ran at 35 million loss for our year in the CCC… then look at other news that our revenue would increase by 60 million a year getting back in prem. That gave us instant balancing books in one foul swoop plus gave left over. Its al ltheir quotes, not mine.

  30. ozzie mag…. na fella, not angry at all, i am just a realist mate and i see fat man for what he is. i accept that and get on with it. what i cant swallow is fans trying to big him up.

  31. On the is he doing a good job? Well he’s found his feet and the way he is doing business the more I think he will stay. It would be nice to bury the old hatchet and give him one year to see what happens. Although the tote deal to me is obvious. Season ticket renewals its funny the first cut off for tickets was 28th February which gives us a few days to sign those papers and drop them off at the box office. The second cut off for tickets is march now forgive me if I’m wrong but do you think baron and Enrique might get a pen to paper in the next two weeks? Second week of march you’ll see. It seems ashley comes from the peter and Jane school of how things work. Ben nearly always had a ball. Predictable. Too predictable.

  32. Well, this seems to be the crux of what confuses you:

    I suggest that is all hearsay and rumour. There’s as much ‘evidence’ to say he wants to make the club great.

    And if he came out and explained his vision people wouldn’t believe him anyway – probably with good reason.

  33. KAMAR….you got me thinking about players bought and sold under ashely regime as i dont want to slag the man off if i have my facts all wrong. so i went and found out. I have not listed the loan jobs as it goes on too long but have kept it to the transfers in and out since fatty took over. I have full lists if you want them too but here you go in a nutshell;

    2007-2008 season;

    15 players brought in at total cost of 21.6 million quid
    16 players shipped out and re-couped 13 million quid.

    In other words we spnt 8.6 milion quid and weakened our numbers by 1.

    2008-2009 season;

    8 players brought in at total cost of 26 million quid.
    9 players shipped out and recouped 32.850 million quid.

    In other words ashely made 6.85 million quid profit on players and weakened us by 1 player.

    Running total – ashely spent out of pocket 1.78 million and two players.

    2009-2010 season;

    6 players in at cost of 2.75 million
    12 players out at re-coup of 23.5 million.
    In other words ashely made profit on player sales of 20.75 million and weakened us by 6 players.

    Running total ashley now in overall pocket by 18.97 million and we are 8 players weaker.

    2010 -2011 season;

    too early to say as not finished but An initial instant big loss is Carroll at 35 million quid.

    In summary so far:
    So we are safe to say that since Asgely took over he has made over 53.97 million quid on players. and stripped the first team of 8 players. These are the plain football nature facts.

  34. Kamar says (30)
    Exactly mate. I wasn’t criticising Ashley or saying he’d be wrong to sell if a big offer came along, just stating a fact that money talks. You can only do your best to get people onto contracts and if loyalty and satisfaction with your lot (and a very nice “lot” it is for most of our players – don’t think they’re actually starving, nor do I think any of them will have to sell their (Championship) medals in future) are not enough, then what can you do? Can you guarantee if you go to an auction that your bid will win? Only if you’ve got more money than anyone else.
    The stated business plan and intentions by Ashley make sense and if “white man speak with forked tongue” there’s not a lot we can do about it. One thing I would find hard to believe is that Ashley is actually “creaming” it – don’t see a football club as being a sound “earner” for anybody – but hey, what do I know, I’m not an accountant. But then I suspect nor are many of the people who come on here shouting the FACTS (in capitals) about how much has gone into MA’s back-pocket.

  35. ah Kamar and Magpie6699… pls come back and explain how a profit of 60 million in players bought to sold equates to an owner investing in his playing staff and not being a money grabbing leech.

  36. craig chisholm @ 47

    As I don’t (probably like every other fan) have access to Newcastle’s accounts I cannot therefore answer your question even though I am trained as an accountant.

    I can make some assumptions, mixed with some suppositions and add in some financial hypothesis and general accounting rules of thumb with a large slice of best guesses but it looks like you may have already done your own unique assessment if I’m not mistaken.

  37. craig chisholm @ 42

    I know this may come as a surprise to you but naming the players bought and sold over the recent years does not represent a profit or loss to the club. You nor I know what financial clauses are in each contract and what the consequences are on the overall ‘bottom line’.

  38. magpie6699 @ 43

    Quite agree mate.

    I don’t mind people posting their thoughts and theories but people who come on here shouting the FACTS (in capitals). Well they only show off their ignorance.

  39. Craig
    some of the stuff you’re saying is frankly laughable at times, the effort you go in to put an argument in place wich is inherently distorted by you bias is a joke. The fact you haven’t distinguished that Ashley’s finances and NUFC finances aren’t the same thing, saying stuff like ‘Ashleys pocketed’ or ‘Ashley has made’, is ridiculous.

    It’s pretty simple, and I can’t understand how you can’t see that for a club that was spunking out £30 mill loss or so years, and then dropped down a division where revenue was halved, cost cutting and savings were surely needed?

    You say we are weakened, I say remember where we were playing last year and look at the table now.

    Another thing, and it’s becoming rather boring, talks of Ashley putting no money in and taking money out etc, the accounts are released every year, to date he has spent nearly £300 mill on the club of his own money and hasn’t take a penny out.

    And where you say our revenue would increase by £60mill when you’re promoted, i’ve got no idea where this is from as the accounts show our revenue last time we were in the Premiership was at just over £80mill. Those are the ‘facts’ as you say.

  40. Kumar
    everyone has access to NUFC finances, they’re made public, the ones for our season in the CCC should be out soon, I can’t imagine they are going to make for pretty reading

  41. i love mike ashley….the only ever thing you pro ashleys can say is how he saved out club from doom and gloom blah blah. I on the other hand am in it for the team on the pitch and i do not think for one second we were near melt down at all.
    all i am saying and all i have ever said that in terms of the team, the guys on the pitch, mike ashley has made money out of. I dont want that to get all twisted into me saying the club this or the club that etc… this is what i am saying to be clear… mike ashley had made 60 million quid out of plyers sold to what he has purchased. What he has done with thaT 60 million ihave no idea but i would take a pot shot inte dark that he is re-couping the 100 million or whatever it was he pumped int ous once he had bought the club. I dont mind that, thats cool. I just wish that he would say (and you lot would admit) that he wantsto get his outlay over and above the intial cost to buy (the 100 million loan etc) back and to do that he is going to sell off players to make money. I just dotn think its fair to say he is great in both ways as thats not right. He may well be putting us on a sound financial footing, you could all be right, what you need to acept and admit to though is that he is selling off the more valuable player, then seeking cheaper options in order to that. Tiote will also be gone in the summer, of that i have no doubt. Giving him the 6.5 year feal was with the sole purpose of selling him, not keeping him. I am man enough to admit that he may prob does have the books looking far healthier.. you lot need to man up and admit he spends zero money on the football team though in order to do that, and in zero, as i have shown, means he has made in the black around 60 million. I am all for it, its his club, do as he pleases, just dont bother pretending to be spending money on the team thats all.

  42. Craig
    i’m not pro Ashley, i’m pro being an adult, using a bit of reason to guide my opinions. The fact you chose to label people as pro/anti Ashley actually says alot about the type of childish person you are.

    And I see you’re doing it again, “mike ashley had made 60 million quid out of plyers sold” i’ll say it again to make it clear, Mike Ashley’s finances and NUFC finances are two totally different things. If NUFC sell players, the money goes in to the club, not to Mike Ashley’s wallet. The accounts prove he has taken not one penny out the club, if what you’re saying is true, and the figures are accurate, (which I very much doubt) then it’s the club who has saved money, not Ashley. That’s not being ‘pro Ashley’, the information is there for everyone to look at and use.

  43. The figures are correct, i can even name all the players that make up the figures in and out if you so wish. OK, lets put it another way, NUFC has made 60 million quid out of players sold since ashley came into power. That money may well have gone into paying off a loan made to NUFC by Mike Ashley. But then again, you say we cant use mike ashleys name when talking about the club.. its almost like we are talking about lord voldermort ffs. So if we cant say ‘he who cant be named’s’ name, who shall we say lent NUFC the money in the first place. Infact, i will refer to him as lord voldermort from now on.

  44. I’m a fence sitter on Ashley, but I can see what Craig is saying re the squad strength. 2 or 3 more injuries to key players and we could be well and truly in the
    sh!t. Ashley really needs to convince us all this Summer in many ways.

  45. I Love Mike @ 52

    Cheers for the information, pity I don’t have craig chisholm’s address as I would willing send him the latest accounts so he can disseminate with his accountants hat on.

  46. Groucho he was rightly hounded after the Keegan affair as you put it. After all he was proven in court to be a liar that treat a club legend like rubbish. He did the same with Shearer. I don’t trust the man and I don’t know if I ever could now. It will take a lot for him to earn my trust again.