What was Newcastle United’s £498,000 payment to Sports Direct for?

Posted on November 21st, 2013 | 47 Comments |

NUFC in Sports Direct's 2013 annual report.
Exhibit A.
Firstly, I should declare that this piece was originally inspired by another, one of several on Newcastle United’s finances by a brace of accountants who also happen to be Toon fans in the latest issue of fanzine, ‘True Faith.’ It’s a very good read.

Of course, it has been known for quite some time that Sports Direct don’t pay a brass farthing for all the extensive worldwide publicity they get from Newcastle United. This was something which was finally confirmed by the club’s financial director, John Irving, at the first ‘Fans’ Forum’ meeting between representatives of the fans, the club, and sponsors, Wronga.

However it certainly less well known that although Newcastle United have been paid the square root of b*ggerall for all those vulgar signs, they actually had to PAY Sports Direct half a million pounds in 2012-13 as shown in SD’s 2013 Annual Report (page 90 under “Related Party Transactions”). Here you will see that Sports Direct received a payment of £498,000 from “Connected Persons,” Newcastle United Football Club.

Why? I’m sorry but the truth is I just do not know for certain. One thing I do know however, something which you might have noticed too (especially if you have used Newcastle United’s online shop recently) is that this is now also run by Sports Direct, with all enquiries now being directed to the Sports Direct death star in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.

Listed as “sales,” it could be a fee for designing and running the site (which would be a damn cheek). It could be for some of the awful market stall tat introduced to the Club’s shop by Ashley, or it could be for something else entirely. It is perhaps worth noting at this point that the new ‘nufcdirect.com’ site was only launched in March 2013, and the financial report mentioned above was only for the year up to 28th April 2013.

This brings me to a small but in my own humble opinion, VERY significant detail which I noticed on my journey. This is that the Internet domain ‘nufcdirect.com’ was first registered way back on November 1, 2010 BY SPORTS DIRECT.

I say “significant” and use capitals as I am a web designer amongst other things for my sins. One of the first pieces of advice I have always given to clients (who usually have much smaller businesses than Sports Direct or Newcastle United) is to register their domain in their own name with a separate domain registration company rather than just leaving it with their webhost or some other third party. This is because the host could potentially hold a significant business asset to ransom at a later date if the client wants to move elsewhere among other things.

For a large, established business with an international reach like Newcastle United, it is far worse still to let Sports Direct register the domain for their official online shop in the name of Sports Direct. Even if it was right and it made good business sense for Newcastle United to allow Sports Direct to run their online merchandising (and I have sincere doubts about that one too), they should never have allowed them to register and own the domain for the new site. It is VERY WRONG INDEED, and a sign of where the balance of power between Sports Direct and Newcastle United football club truly lies, with Newcastle United as a vassal, a slave who is bonded to their master.

Why this happened, as well as what that £498,000 was for are both questions which need to be answered by the club. After all, fans shelling out their hard earned for the club’s merchandise have a right to know whether it will be supporting the club or Sports Direct. They should also have the right to know when they are being deceived, which as we all know is Mike Ashley’s forte.


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47 Responses

  1. Glad to see a number of articles doing the rounds today on this issue. I read the original article in true-faith and was absolutely gobsmacked at the brass neck of Sports Direct. Cannot believe that the club are having to PAY SD, despite the fact that they get advertising worth millions for absolutely nothing. It is disgusting and should gall every single Newcastle United fan.

  2. “This was something which was finally confirmed by the club’s financial director, John Irving, at the first ‘Fans’ Forum’ meeting between representatives of the fans, the club, and sponsors, Wronga.”

    Don’t you mean the FINAL ‘Fans’ Forum’ meeting, worky?

  3. Maybe Sports Direct probably charge us for displaying their adverts an filling up otherwise empty space.
    Ashley may not want NUFC to make a profit from his own company so why would he charge Sports Direct and then have NUFC pay tax on the extra profit, this way there is no expenditure or income other than the payment £498.000 to Sports Direct, it sounds like a tax scam doesn’t it? but what do I know.

  4. Basically a load of anti-Ashley bollocks.

    You are conveniently ignoring the fact that Ashley OWNS both companies, so it is therefore extremely unlikely that one arm of his empire is going to hold another leg to ransom.

    It is also pretty standard for companies within a group to cross bill for services provided. In fact its necessary to account for resource costs.

    And finally – you even admit that you have no idea what the billing was for – so it is entirely un-informed speculation.

    Getting pretty desperate here boys


  5. Archie, while your point is valid, you conveniently overlook one thing. Ashley may OWN both NUFC and Sports direct. But he only gives a damn about one of them, and it isn’t NUFC. Our only purpose is to give him free advertising for his tat shops and not cost him money. Lord knows what the payment to sports direct was for, but the comment about NUFC being a vassal state to Ashley’s sports direct empire is pretty apt in my opinion.

  6. Do NUFC stores stock and sell products manufactured/supplied by Sports Direct? I dare say they do so that would be one perfectly reasonable explanation. Remember SD own several sportswear brands so if we are selling that stock we shouldn’t expect it to be supplied for free, we’d have to buy it off SD. Also, who does the club source all the ‘fashion’ products which you can see on their online shop – lots of seemingly unbranded t-shirts, etc which I’d imagine are sourced through SD’s extensive links to far east suppliers. I seriously doubt there’s anything sinister going on here for that relatively paltry figure.

  7. @ 10. Right. Nothing untoward, just another instance of NUFC being used a cash cow for SD. I mean, NUFC gives SD millions in free ads and NUFC has to pay for SD’s sweatshop-produced tat? Dictionary definition of an assymmetrical relationship.

  8. Damn youse guys are exciting, fancy that going from cricket to bean counting in one swell foop, how adventuresome.

  9. General Lee Speaking says:
    November 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    “Do NUFC stores stock and sell products manufactured/supplied by Sports Direct? I dare say they do so that would be one perfectly reasonable explanation. Remember SD own several sportswear brands so if we are selling that stock we shouldn’t expect it to be supplied for free, we’d have to buy it off SD.”

    I did mention that possibilty in the piece, General, but that’s kind of the point. When you see Sports Direct on one of those boards by the pitch, that’s around £10,000 a pop and there’s lots of ’em. If Newcastle United shouldn’t expect to be supplied for free, perhaps Sports Direct shouldn’t expect to be supplied for free too? ;-)

  10. tunyc: I said it before on here that it is surprising how many fish are the same in singular as plural: cod, haddock, mackerel, salmon, trout (Chuck’s fave).

    It’s the f@cking international break and unless we watched the fantastic Portugal game and the amazing Japan/Netherlands game or the brilliant comeback by France, we had nothing to do sport wise.

    It was interesting to see them trying to put their fans in grave danger at Soldier Field at the weekend though. At that made for TV sport (ads) that’s called football over here.

    But the cricket started yesterday and there is nothing better than a miserable Aussie.

  11. I see “selfie” is the word of 2013. Made famous by:

    Kardashian’s shameless self promotion and Weiner’s, well you know…

    Do you think they will make “facial” the word of 2014?

  12. Archie Brand says:

    “And finally – you even admit that you have no idea what the billing was for – so it is entirely un-informed speculation.

    Getting pretty desperate here boys”

    HTF can you possibly tell us all that what’s been written is ENTIRELY UNINFORMED SPECULATION you tosser ?

    Its extracted from SD’s Annual report and is there for all to see. So the INFORMATION IS BOTH INFORMED AND ACCURATE unlike your pathetic posts !

  13. Ahh good old Andy Mac getting rude and personal again when somebody dares to question yet another (yawn yawn)anti Ashley item.
    Andy Mac who fell in love with NUFC whilst sitting as a spotty teenager in his council house bedroom in Nottingham and being turned on by a fans pitch invasion fer gawds sake.
    These opinionated non Geordie glory hunters with their constant whinging are starting to get on my wick to be honest

  14. Jeff from Majorca, are you saying that only “non Geordie glory hunters” whinge about Ashley?

    Glory hunters supporting Newcastle United? :lol:

    That’s about the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read as it’s like signing up for a life of pain, despair and heartbreak voluntarily. At least I was born in Gosforth, so I didn’t have much choice in the matter.

  15. Jeff from Benwell, I’m a Geordie, Born and bred, And if you yourself are Geordie, Which your moniker suggests, Then you cannot be happy with Mike Ashley’s Tenure.
    There’s very few people on Tyneside who back him, And his dick head friends!
    IMO, He is an absolute affront and an abomination, To the Tyneside area, And it’s people!
    His ownership of this club has been, At the Zenith Farcical, And at the Nadir downright scandalous.

    F**k him!, And his Southern inferior imports, ie, His puppet the Two Bob conman, Pardew, And Joe Kinnear.
    In fact f**k anyone who has anything to do with him, And that includes Bob Moncur, And Peter “Smell The Glove” Beardsley, Who have been crawling his a**e, From day one, And anyone else who facilitates this a**ehole!
    The quicker the lot of them p*** off!, The better it will be for all concerned.
    I hope the lot of them get what’s coming to them…

  16. worky @19
    What I’m saying – I think – is the creation of the EPL and the rise of Sky sports have a lot to answer for.
    There are many who sound off and call themselves fans who have arbtrarily selected a club to “support” from the comfort of their armchair.NUFC acquired a great number of glory hunters during KK’s first managerial tenure.
    I first supported the Toon at the age of 14 (I cycled with my mate from Tynemouth and went into the Gallowgate next to the score board)
    I feel very strongly the uniqueness of the club and its position in the fabric of the Geordie nation today and historically


    The Geordies who have owned and run NUFC have not exactly covered themselves or the club in glory.

    This is one Geordie who is prepared to give Mike Ashley more time to prove hisself.

  17. Jeff: I am not an Ashley hater, but you have to face facts that he doesn’t want to own the club and has no ambition for the club.

    He tried to sell the club once and it is well known it is available for the right price. He had Pardew saying that Mike had saved the club when we were relegated when in fact he was trying to sell it.

    I have seen him at more games recently, but I bet that is because he was going to sack Pardew in the dressing room if we hadn’t performed.

    They winge about being in Europe when every fan wants the club to be in Europe. Maybe it is a PR problem but Pardew has stated that the cups are not a priority. Mediocrity and a sale is Ashley’s goal (God knows why, as you would think NUFC would have a bigger sell on value the more successful it is).

    The Fatman has proven himself by his deeds, if you ask me. Now, if he announced a 50 million pound investment in new players in January and that our target this year is to win the FA Cup and get into Europe, or a 10 million pound donation to the Bobby Robson Fund, I might change my mind.

  18. So @20.

    Last Captain to win anything )and score in process) useless.

    One of best ever Geordie to play for toon…useless

    Maybe @20 ….useless

  19. Jeff from Benwell says:
    November 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    “I feel very strongly the uniqueness of the club and its position in the fabric of the Geordie nation today and historically”

    Jeff, Mike Ashley has done more to ruin the unique identity of Newcastle United and the idea of the club as a local institution than anyone else in it’s history and that has nothing whatsoever to do with where he comes from.

    I hate to use the term “brand” in relation to Newcastle United, but he is ruining it with Sports Direct and Wonga, and what is more, the club isn’t even getting anything back for it, just a cotemptuous warning from the likes of Pardew, Kinnear and Llambias that the club must “wash it’s face” financially even when it is acting as a charity for Ashley’s parasitical cheap and nasty retail chain. The club’s identity, and the club’s finances have been sacrificed for a crock of shite.

    I don’t say this because I am not aquainted with the realities of modern business, I know all about that and so do quite a few of the other regular posters on here. I live in North London nowadays, and the two closest big clubs are Arsenal and Tottenham, two clubs which are now far richer and receive much more in sponsorship and so on than Newcastle United. They haven’t lost their identity and descended into sheer vulgarity in the same way though. They know that is actually a bad thing commercially, but Ashley isn’t bothered about that because it’s a mere trifle in comparison with his interest in Sports Direct, which is worth billions to him.

    As for all this “Geordie Nation” stuff, that was just empty 90s rabble rousing rhetoric from Thatcher’s mate, John Hall, the Slobodan Milosevic of Tyneside. He f***ing ruined Newcastle with his metro centre. The toon centre looked like some kind of post apocalyptic wasteland of deserted shops for years after that monstrosity was built. Malls like that design the community out of the community.

  20. Jeff: I suppose it could be a lot worse, a few miles south and you would have been a Mackem.

    I just used Google Maps to look up Sunderland and it is not even on their map as a place name. Hendon, Whitburn and Bolden Colliery are, but for some strange reason Sunderland isn’t. Have a look if you don’t believe me.

  21. Pwood says:
    November 22, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    “So @20.

    “Last Captain to win anything )and score in process) useless.

    “One of best ever Geordie to play for toon…useless

    “Maybe @20 ….useless”

    Pwood, Joe didn’t describe either Bobby Moncur or Peter Beardsley as “useless,” just that they are arsecrawlers to Ashley and should p*** off which is slightly different. He didn’t undermine their contribution to the club as players either. It’s a bit of a straw man argument.

  22. GS, it disappears on a laptop and desk top too sometimes, it depends on the zoom level of the map. Newcastle upon Tyne is always there at any zoom, but Sunderland disappears at certain zooms. I’ve noticed it before.

  23. You’re right Worky @29. You zoom and sometimes Sunderland just drops off the map. I wish it was as easy in real life.

  24. Pwood, I’m sure if we fill in the consonants and vowels it would spell out, P-E-C-K-E-R-W-O-O-D!
    Who’s questioning their footballing ability?
    That’s got naff all to do with it, It is more to do with their unfaltering support for Ashley.
    Moncur has stated on numerous occasions, That he personally does not think Ashley has done anything wrong.
    Well where the hell has he been for the last 6 years, If he thinks that.

    I also heard John Anderson during his commentary, Talking about the fans demanding the owner compete with the top four.
    It is total bollox!, And the fans are not being represented, By those who are supposed to be in the know.
    No one i know is suggesting we compete with the top four at this stage, And for tossers like Anderson to say that, Then they are full of s**t!

    Worky, Those W***A away days are absolutely cringeworthy, And are something akin to Propaganda the Nazi’s would have been proud of.
    I wish they would just have W***A Away period!

  25. Joe man, Jeff and Pwood just disagree with you. That’s what blogs are about sometimes. They’re not complete idiots, never to be read, like Troy.

  26. GS, I’m not that bothered really, But when i seen his name, I just couldn’t resist the temptation to give him a little back lol.

    Is that the Troy from Simon’s blog, Who has himself on Youtube walking out the front door in just his underpants, After telling his daughter he was off to fight crime?

  27. @33: I am sure, and that actually sounds more amusing than his posts. Can we leave it there though as I certainly don’t want that idiot coming on here (not that I have any say in it).

  28. joe hawkins says:
    November 22, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    “Worky, Those W***A away days are absolutely cringeworthy, And are something akin to Propaganda the Nazi’s would have been proud of.”

    Joe, judge for yourself, here’s an hour long video of Nazi TV. It all very jolly and banal on the surface apart from the odd sinister, heavy handed messages such as one about how musicians who play out of tune with the rest of the band (like Lee Ryder, Mark Douglas, Luke Edwards and the NUST) will all be sent to “concert camps” and that sort of thing. The pretty, blonde Aryan style presenter on there looks a bit like Wendy Taylor.

  29. Whole lotta bickering going on here, whats up, everone bored ?
    Cause i’m born an bred in Benwell makes me a real Geordie arguments, and those opposing, sound much like arguments from pre-teens.
    OF course when that fails, try the Jobs for the boys argument.
    Ostracise poor old Beardsley, trying to hold onto his job, what do you expect from him, to criticised Ashley ?
    when all else fails, then it’s obviously time to abuse your neighbors, doon the coast like.
    If that fails then there’s the fascists, especially nazi Germany.
    The only ones missing are the anti Geordie suvern press and the cockney barstewards.
    C’mon folks, i know we can have a more interesting dialog than this.

  30. So it’s Hughton and his East Anglian crew, coming with bad intentions, the morra.
    This is one game i dont really care who wins, i like Hughton, for being the decent person he is and three points for him mean a lot more.
    But naturally i will be rooting for the home side as usual.
    The Arsenal vs S’ampton.,should be the most interesting,
    and i believe could result in S’ampton taking all three points.
    The Liverpool derby will also be interesting, considering the manages involved.
    As will the Citeh vs Spurs game.

    On the transfer front, it appears we could either sign Diabate or Gomis, at least thes are my predictions, as far as the rumored Remy for Cisse sure, take it in a NY second.
    However our most important requirement right now is a good CD, one for both now and the future.
    I s

  31. The Argentino’s have about run their course, let them go,
    i certainly dont want to listen to anymore “i wanna go home” stories.
    Yeah a good CD, either Gomis or Diabate, or both, Zaha if he wants to come.
    But a good CD is absolutely esential.

  32. So this is the lineup the morra.

    SANTON******** **********YANGA_M’BIWA


  33. @39: I would be shocked if that team lines up. It is much more likely that Coloccini comes in and MBiwa is switched to right back, or Anita comes in as a straight swap for Debuchy.

    Williamson and Shola will keep their places, much as I would like HBA to start ahead of Shola.

    Taylor, I honestly hadn’t even thought about Taylor coming back ahead of Williamson.

  34. GS says:
    November 22, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    “Taylor, I honestly hadn’t even thought about Taylor coming back ahead of Williamson.”

    You know how Chuckles feels about Williamson, GS. Even if the only alternative was a one legged 80 year old, he still wouldn’t pick him.

  35. Worky: I thought he was naming a likely team? And I sort of think I know which team I want to win, Hughton is indeed a decent man, but tomorrow, f@ck him.

  36. Looking at Chuck’s fantasy team again. That team has some serious pace in it and should be able to scare most Premier League teams. Get Debuchy back and a new manager and we could be going places.

    I would play either of MBiwa and Coloccini with Williamson. And Tiote if he is in the form he is in now or Anita otherwise.

  37. Worky, I can see it now, A bunch of Charvers from Elswick tap dancing in W***A kits, In the centre circle of St James’ Park, For a tenner deal, Courtesy of W***A lol.

    I don’t know whether i would have picked Ben Arfa in the supporting striker role.
    Unless Shola is slightly knackered after his International exertions.
    We need to go out all guns blazing against “The Carrot Crunchers”, And the ball will not stick up top with Ben Arfa.

  38. joe hawkins says:
    November 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm (Edit)

    “Worky, I can see it now, A bunch of Charvers from Elswick tap dancing in W***A kits, In the centre circle of St James’ Park, For a tenner deal, Courtesy of W***A lol.”

    Actually Joe, those Wonga away days are a bit more like the the very cheap cruises the nazis used to run for das Volk, the ones who behaved themselves anyway. The ones who didn’t got a holiday of a different kind of course.

  39. Worky, They are definitely like a “Nudge Squad” who are used to manipulate the more unfortunate members of society into thinking a certain way.
    I’ve heard they are trying to get to the kids early on, To make them think W***A.COM is part of normal life, And accruing debt is okay.

    It’s all very dodgy, And you cannot help but question why Ashley would get out of a more lucrative deal with Virgin, To throw his hat in with these toerags, For less wonga, So to speak.

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