Why Ashley leaving Toon for the Champions League with Rangers is nonsense

Posted on January 27th, 2015 | 32 Comments |

Mike Ashley boxing
Mike Ashley: A heavyweight who’s always up for a fight
With Mike Ashley’s recent attempts to take over at Rangers, and specifically his problems with the Scottish FA for having an interest in both clubs, it has often been said recently that Mike Ashley would be willing to leave Newcastle United so he can take over Rangers completely. There have been several hypotheses put forward for why he might do this

Champions League exposure for Sports Direct?

One which makes no sense at all is that Ashley would be willing to sacrifice Newcastle United and the English Premier League to expose his cheap sports goods in that great league of leagues, the Champions League. This would be once Rangers get through the small formalities of getting promoted back to the Scottish Premiership and then beating Celtic to win the Scottish Premiership title. This one is a complete non-starter though as there are two crucial things the proponents of this hypothesis have overlooked.

1. As both Newcastle United and Rangers fans should know from previous European competition, Rangers or any other side are only allowed to display advertising for their shirt sponsors and kit sponsors. There could be no pitch side hoardings or anything else emblazoned with cheap Ashley brands like Sports Direct, Firetrap and all the rest. Only UEFA sponsorship partners are allowed to advertise in both the Europa and Champions League competitions.

2. The first point doesn’t really need any reinforcement with a second one but I’ll do it anyway. Rangers have played a total of 104 games in the Champions League. That sounds like alot, however that is in over 22 years as the European Cup was remodelled as the Champions League in 1992/93. It’s an average of around 5 games per season, and less than 2.5 home games.

Champions League money?

We can also say that the money Ashley will make in the Scottish Premier League, especially from broadcasting, will be much smaller than it is south of the border. If it wasn’t for the Champions League, Celtic would have a lower turnover than Newcastle United did when it was in the Championship. In short, the Scottish Premiership is like the English League One with one much bigger team like Leicester City at the very top.

On the surface at least, Champions League competition money rather than advertising opportunities which don’t exist seemingly offers a better reason. Rangers’ old enemy, Celtic, made £23.3 million from the Champions League in prize money, bonuses and TV money last season. Overall they had a turnover of £64.74 million and a profit before tax of £11.17m (Celtic financial results). That’s roughly about half Newcastle’s latest turnover figure of £129.7 million. Celtic had a particularly good season though getting to the last 16, as much as a team with Celtic’s resources could ever hope for. This season they were knocked out by Maribor at the qualifying stages, which will take £10s millions from their turnover and put an entirely different complexion on their next set of figures. This year’s failure could wipe out all the profit they made in the previous season and more.

Two into one won’t go

There is also another huge obstacle. Due to Scottish clubs falling out of the UEFA’s top sixteen rankings, Scotland have had only have one team competing in the Champions League for the last two seasons, with the second only getting a place in the qualifiers of the far less lucrative Europa League. In the premier competition, a team can make £10-30 million (depending on whether the club is a Basle or a Manchester United) just for making the group stages. On the other hand, getting to the Europa League group stages, a competiton some say is more gruelling than the Champions League will only bring in around £2-3 million. Even winning the competition will almost certainly be less lucrative than merely competing in the group stages of the Champions League. After all, what did it do finacially for teams like Birmingham City, Fulham (who even made the final), or even Newcastle United? As you can see here, even making the quarter finals didn’t affect Newcastle United’s annual finances much.

On the other side, though the Scottish Premiership is much smaller than the English one in fianacial terms, the level of investment required to dominate Celtic would still be huge by Ashley’s penny pinching standards. Also, it might not be worth it. When the old Rangers was financially obliterated, so was the squad. Using football transfer website Transfermarkt as a very rough guide, their squad is currently estimated to be worth about £5.8 million and the club still had to sell one of their very best players (Lewis McCleod to Brentford) for a million just to keep the lights on at Ibrox recently. According to the same site, Celtic’s is currently estimated to be worth around ten times that at £50.14 million. This is almost as much as the other 11 sides of the Scottish Premiership put together (£62.48 million). This means that just to compete with Celtic on a level playing field would require almost £50 million investment. To be sure of crushing them for the Scottish title most years would require far more still, maybe £100 million+. Even then Rangers would only get qualifying games in the Champions League with no guarantee of the lucrative group stage action. Newcastle United fans who can remember the club’s catastrophic Champions League qualifying games against Partian Belgrade in 2003 will know something about this. The Magpies lost many millions in one penalty shoot out and it was a game which ushered in a period of decline from which they still haven’t recovered. To a pure ‘breadhead’ like Ashley who has no interest in cup glory at a price, it probably wouldn’t be worth it.

Indeed, Ashley has shown already that a spending war for the potential of cup glory is not his style at all. Profit figures are his trophies. Seven years experience with Newcastle United has taught us that he sees no point whatsoever in competing for the Champions League, Europa League, FA or League Cups, with Premier League survival and the buying and selling of players at a profit being the the club’s primary ambitions. Even the club itself has conceeded their lack of ambition in cup competitions.

Going by experience of Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle, apart from promoting Sports Direct worldwide, which he can’t do from Scotland, Ashley’s primary interest has been buying up cheap players below the age of 26 and selling them on later for maximum profit. My own personal hypothesis, which I wrote on in a previous piece, was that Ashley’s real intentions was to build a selling club network like Giampaolo Pozzo’s Udinese. Granada and Watford. In this scenario, Rangers would be used as a development club for younger players, with a huge amount of young colts going up and down between Ashley’s footballer stables in Newcastle and Glasgow. That was another blog though.

Getting back to this one, with new figures about to be announced showing that Ashley has made a bumper profit from Newcastle United based on increased broadcasting revenue and player sales, I really don’t think Ashley will be going anywhere soon.

NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1091 articles on this blog.

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32 Responses

  1. The Sports Direct logo ir red, white & blue. Rangers play in red, whit & blue. The logo will be going on the shirt and Ashley will have his European Champions League advertising for Sports Direct. Simple

  2. Yeah but what you’re failing to mention WT is that owning a club in Scotland is a darn sight cheaper than its English equivalent.

    In addition to which he can more or less guarantee European involvement every season, when in the SPL, with Europa League slots going to 2nd and 3rd places plus the Cup winners and all for the price of a few Shite Direct vouchers.

    Shite Direct logos will be all over the playing kit plus the probability he’ll rename Ibrox gives him far more bang for his buck !

  3. Hmmm ! Yes an interesting theory, i’m talking about Rangers as a club used to develop young future stars
    for NUFC.

    Though I could see it happening with two or three top youngsters, but why bother, the present system of loaning our youngsters to English second tier clubs would give them a better education, plus pay their wages.

    Nah ! don’t see that happening.

    Whereas I had suggested recently it may work with a side like Gateshead, if they can get themselves promoted and perhaps move up a league, face it not many talented young players want to end up playing in the dregs of the lower English league system, against the like’s of Hartlepool or Carlisle.

    So in fact the owning of Rangers has to be based on simply having the re-naming right’s of Ibrox and ownership of a decent stadium, where like St. James’ Park, it can be filled each other week, with fifty thousand fans.

    That and the rights to shirt sale’s which has a worldwide base, much larger than NUFC, plus, being he runs the board at Ibrox, he can always enforce the SD sponsorship logo to be displayed on the Ranger shirts and just as many ad boards as we have at St. James’ at a low cost to him, no doubt.

    Nah ! IMO, unless someone decides to pay a lot of dough, to sign the SPL to a decent tv contract, the league will continue to deteriorate, hell some of the former top SPL sides are now in the second tier, Hibs, Hearts and Rangers.

    There’s only one way to save either the well run Glasgow Celtic side and it’s financially messed up neighbor Rangers and that is to apply for admission to the English league and hopefully for them, work their way into the big money league, which is the EPL.

    There are precedents on either side here, with two top Welsh sides Swansea and Cardiff one in the PL and the other in the second tier, that plus the English side Berwick Rangers, who play in the lower tier of Scottish football.

    Of course that happening is problematic, as there are rice bowls involved, that and the standard excuse, the fear of violence from Scottish fans travelling south.

    It appears no one but Ashley knows for sure what his plan is for Rangers, but if I were a Ranger fan, I would certainly be concerned.

  4. I wouldn’t like to try and predict what Ashley will do. I think he originally bought the club as both a hobby and a means to promote SD but after he fell out with the fans, the bitter, grudge-bearing barsteward said he wasn’t prepared to fund the club anymore and that it had to pay for itself. The hobby side of it had gone. He also tried to sell it a few times, so it seems there certainly was a time when he wanted to get out.

    Since then though, I think he’s discovered that he can make a profit out of football club ownership and get a lot of free sponsorship for SD in the process, so he may be less inclined to leave it now.

    However, I did find the club’s September statement puzzling when it said:

    For the avoidance of doubt, this means that for the remainder of this season and AT LEAST until the end of next season, Mike Ashley will not, under any circumstances, sell Newcastle United at any price. The club cannot be stronger in stating its position on this matter.

    Why qualify it with all this “end of next season” stuff? Why not simply say the club’s not for sale and leave it at that? I just wonder if, for some reason, he doesn’t see Newcastle as a long-term prospect.

  5. Hugh de Payen

    “However, I did find the club’s September statement puzzling when it said:”

    “For the avoidance of doubt, this means that for the remainder of this season and AT LEAST until the end of next season, Mike Ashley will not, under any circumstances, sell Newcastle United at any price. The club cannot be stronger in stating its position on this matter.”

    Aye he says “for the avoidance of doubt” then deliberately says something puzzling that will put people into doubt, putting the “AT LEAST” in capitals in case people miss it.

    He also said at that time he wouldn’t be moving for any more of Rangers. Two or three months after that he asked the SFA to approve him taking over 29% of the club instead of 9%.

  6. chuck says:
    January 27, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    “Hmmm ! Yes an interesting theory, i’m talking about Rangers as a club used to develop young future stars
    for NUFC.”

    No, I wasn’t quite saying that Chuck, more that they’d be passing through both Rangers and Newcastle on their way to PSG, Arsenal etc ultimately, or so Ashley hopes.

  7. Hugh

    I agree there may have been times when Ashley retrospectively thought the purchase of the club may had been a bad idea, especially following the falling out with the fans.

    And I believe that if offered the right amount, he would have sold in a NY second.

    However subsequent to that, he obviously found a means to use the club in a way that produced a profit.

    I believe the guy is a bit strange, in the sense, he is somewhat of a loner and has relied solely on his own judgment, which has been proven to be correct, at least as far as the bottom line is concerned.

    Though I sense a certain amount of shadenfreude in his dealings with the fans, an in your face attitude, in regard to the renaming of St. James’ Park, the display of SD advertisements and making a tidy sum from selling shirts with the “legal loan-shark” logo.

    Also the fact he absolutely refuses to address the fans concerns in regards to the clubs present or future plans.

    Employing such jerks as Pardew and now the chubby whatever his job title is, as mouthpieces.

    Though he may not enjoy the same amount of profit, he takes from SD, the recent take from NUFC has become substantial enough to consider a continued ownership.

    And the recent profits could possibly have made the sale of the club, a more attractive deal, being nineteenth on the list of the worlds most wealthy clubs, with the possibilities of even bigger things to come, certainly doesn’t hurt.

    But I’m afraid that doesn’t shed any light on his plans in regard to Rangers, who I don’t really care about, only in the sense of, how will this effect both his attitude and business plan in regard to NUFC.

    I’m sure we will eventually find out, but will it make us any the happier ?

  8. Worky @ 8#
    Same thing really, I never suggested that the club’s (NUFC) policies would change in regard to buying cheap, and selling at whatever profit the market will bear.
    It’s as I have been saying on this blog for years, the credo or mantra of the wholesaler, of which Mike Ashley is a master and should come as no surprise.

  9. I think I’m one of the Chronicle’s ‘club sources’. :-)

    This blog yesterday (see above): “Why Ashley leaving Toon for the Champions League with Rangers is nonsense”

    “…To a pure breadhead like Ashley who has no interest in cup glory at a price, it probably wouldn’t be worth it.”

    Mark Douglas in the Chronic today: “Are Newcastle just stalling while Mike Ashley does a deal for Rangers?

    “A source at the club recently branded the Ashley to Rangers talk “nonsense”.

    “They don’t think it makes any sense financially to the owner…”


    Mark Douglas is also a so called professional jounalist who doesn’t appear to know the difference between the words ‘discreet’ and ‘discrete.’ Don’t they use sub-editors on the Chronicle to check the mistakes of their semi-illiterate writers?

  10. Worky

    Yes, I thought it was only my imagination, or coincidence, that following certain contributions to this and other blogs, I would read almost verbatim,
    rants from local sports writers, just altered sufficiently to avoid any claim of simply copying others statements.

    Not that I care what Journal or Chronicle sports writers
    have to say, as long as it’s not something that has been copied from blogs they have scanned to find some interesting subject, they can re-write and disguise as an original idea they have come up with.

    On the other hand, do I care ? not really as it results in more ink for the original thought and keeps those geniuses off the unemployment roles.

  11. As far as Rangers are concerned, it appears that supporters of the club seem to think by their recent anti Ashley actions, they have stopped him from doing damage to the club.

    Fact is the damage has already taken place, by both mismanagement and economical circumstance’s.

    Little do they know (in similar terms the opinion of Llambias, (“you have no idea how malicious we can be”)

    They wont know until the steam-roller runs over both themselves and the SFA, which is Ashley’s multi billion financial empire.

  12. It’s interesting to note the changing policies of the club, who have created a completely different set of rules in the management of a football club, bringing it into the twenty first century.

    Ashley, starting of with a blank page, has introduced a completely different system, from the one that once existed at NUFC.

    Though he has gone through some rough times, relegation,
    a continuing era of fan unrest (though still enjoying full house’s at St. james’).

    I believe he has learned quite a lot since the early days, where he was labeled by KK, as someone who knew nothing about football and Llambias as knowing even less.

    Pardew ? I mean who would take the word of someone like Llambias as a manager, a mistake, that IMO Ashley was not that unhappy to rectify, especially as not only did he get him off the payroll for free but made a couple of million on the deal, possibly the equivalent of two years of Pardews wages saved, or more.

    Not bad!

    And yeah, I doubt whether the chubby little GM is being paid the going rate and why should he, all he does is mouth whatever Ashley tells him too, anyone believe he has any autonomy ?

    Does Carver get a raise for taking on the head coach role ?

    Yeah right!

    Anyone surprised we ain’t got a new coach and won’t have until Ashley sez so ?

    Think of the savings, hmmmmm !

    On the other hand, things don’t look quite so bad when one looks at the playing staff, apart from letting Yanga-M’Biwa go, plus we could still lose Sissoko, Cisse and Tiote, though I doubt Ashley will take that risk, having once experienced relegation.

    And it’s interesting he (Ashley) has added and seemingly is about to bring in a number of talented youngsters, those who have reached or are about to reach first team
    ability, no more (other than local) sixteen year olds.

    I’m talking about the Perez, Cabella, Sammy, Bigirimana, Aarons, well i’m sure you get what I mean, who will need better coaching than they got from Pardew and Co.

    That’s if he wants to ever collect a nice profit from their eventual sale.

    But what about a side that wins things ?


    Making money is what Ashley wants, being he can’t or wont compete with the top English sides, resulting in a constantly changing player squad, damn! they are going to have Carr on the road permanently, looking for talent to feed the assembly line, buy cheap, sell on for a decent profit and to hell with the fans, mid table in the PL is the place to be.

    But no ambition to win something ?


    I just told you it’s about the money stupid, nothing else, yeah we heard he likes a bit of flair and enjoys winning, c’mon you believe that?

    One thing I know having the club send out a worse than reserve side for cup games sez it all, also the lesson from our recent shit European campaign which got us some ink, but also saw the side flirt with relegation due to the game requirements, that’s also to be avoided, so it’s mid way mediocrity, nowt else.

    Ah well ! better than being Leeds I suppose.

  13. It’s becoming embarrassing listening to Carver with him insisting he’s the right man for the job, having cited he cares little whether they bring in or sell any players during the current window, as he is willing to work under any circumstances.

    Why he doesn’t just get down and beg Ashley as he’s more or less declared he is willing to do anything to become Head Coach.

    Please John, try and act like you may have at least a bit of pride left.

  14. They certainly appear so, as they got right to the point in contacting the SFA in regard to Ashley being a fit and proper person, that and the possible duality ownership issue.
    Plus I doubt if many would have spent good money to become a walking advertisement for a legal loan-shark operation.
    Yeah I realize many Newcastle families are under pressure from their children to spring for a WONGA logo’d shirt, but to see grown men who should know better
    wearing that same shirt is a bit disturbing, I mean what are they thinking?

  15. The fact John Carver will be in charge until the season’s end, was predictable, the new Houghton ?

    Lets see !

    He’s making the claim, that he and Pardew do not necessarily agree on tactics, though it was worded so as to not offend his former boss, using the term tweaks to indicate his minor changes.

    Actually there has been a pronounced difference in the way the side played following Pardews recent exit.

    It appears he (Carver) is giving certain players the freedom to play their game, taking off the leash so to speak, certainly true in the case of Cabella who either feels he needs to step up a bit, but we did see him taking on defenders and working hard.

    Whereas, Pardew appeared to restrict players to certain roles, concentrating more on defense and shape.

    And as some have described it “Pardewed” our flair players, by insisting on playing his ridged methodical and obvious style.

    Well I find this interesting and look forward “hopefully” to a bit of entertainment from our future games, if in fact he allows a bit of freedom to play, by introducing a bit of flair, something the fans have missed since Pardews arrival.

    Carver has also stated he’s looking for a seventh or eighth place finish, which is about where a club like NUFC should be, after all we are the worlds nineteenth place side, as far as wealth is concerned.

    But let’s not get too ambitious, hell we might end up back in the, lots of games, but no money tournament, which would certainly piss his boss off, careful there John.

  16. Different manager, same routine. According to John Carver it would take an “exceptional offer,” or alternatively, “ridiculous money” for Newcastle United to sell Moussa Sissoko.

  17. I’m ok SJT. Wish it would warm up a bit down here though, it’s bloody freezing. I’m not one of those Geordies who wears a T-Shirt in January.

    No hand of God for Hull. That had me a bit worried for a second.

  18. We played well there, Newcastle looked like they had been set free but Hull were shite as well. Just when you’re enjoying it though, they spoil it all by panning over to a smug, beaming Ashley, reminding you that it makes him happy as well.

  19. Well appears Santon, like many at NUFC, has fallen out of favor and according to his girlfriend, has been forced out of the side and as far as we know is currently on loan at Milan, the club from which he was originally signed.

    It seems Worky was right in his assessment that Rangers are about to become a development club for NUFC, with Vuckic, Bigirimana and Mbabu all heading north on loan, with the possibility of others joining them.

    It also appears we have missed out on acquiring the services of young Deli Alli, with Spurs deciding to take him late for a reported 5m quid.

    While it’s also been reported Liverpool are about to make a move for Ings.

    But fear not, the word is we are about to sign, that famous Dane “Daniel Wass”, whah who…..?

    Who it’s reported can play on the wing and either full back role, hmmm.. full back or winger eh ? diven kna aboot that like.

    It’s also been rumored that now Ashley has managed to fill the Rangers board, with such worthies as Llambias and those local “gis a job” jocks, looking for a paycheck.

    An indication, that there could be more youngsters on the way, face it on the Rangers payroll is better than on Ashley’s, no ?

    Of course we await with bated breath for Sissoko to decide where he wants to go, preferably PSG, but Arsenal will do I suppose, anywhere but NUFC, though he often denies it.

    The telling statement being “Sissoko commits immediate future to NUFC” yeah right !

    One bit of news is De Boer is having second thoughts about leaving Ajax, something that will not go down well with the Newcastle fans who voting overwhelmingly for him as next manager(Heed Coach)

    Did anyone really expect Ashley to hire someone like De Boer, if so it’s time for a reality check, as the man wants and expects to win something, which just ain’t gonna happen for obvious reasons at NUFC.

    To be honest I think Ashley may very well give the job to Carver on a permanent basis, depending on how well the side perform between now and the seasons end.

    I can’t see him doing any worse than Pardew, but he may not be that BIG name, or he may prove not to have that tactical nous that separate’s the knowledgeable from
    the mundane, lets see ?

    Apparently the discussions between the tv networks and the EPL are expected to bring in an enormous amount, much more than for the present season.

    In which case don’t expect our esteemed owner to be going anywhere , unless he get’s an offer he cant refuse.

    Onward and upward to-wards mid league mediocrity and long may the player conveyor belt work, though Carr may have to expand his horizons.

    Ah well, better than being Leeds I suppose.

  20. chuck says:
    February 2, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    “It seems Worky was right in his assessment that Rangers are about to become a development club for NUFC, with Vuckic, Bigirimana and Mbabu all heading north on loan, with the possibility of others joining them.”

    Not quite, Chuck. Ultimately, both Newcastle and Rangers would just be development clubs for players to sell on to bigger teams. As I’ve said in the past, study Pozzo’s Udinese, Granada and Watford empire. None of those clubs have ever won a real trophy though, they don’t have the same kind of history. It’s like it was with stadium name, you can have a sponsored name for a new one where the concrete is still drying, or even a newish one, but obviously, renaming historic stadiums like St James’ Park, Ibrox, Old Trafford, Anfield etc isn’t the done thing.

    chuck says:
    February 2, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    “To be honest I think Ashley may very well give the job to Carver on a permanent basis, depending on how well the side perform between now and the seasons end.

    “I can’t see him doing any worse than Pardew, ”

    You seem to have forgotten that we were relegated just a year and a half before Pardew.

  21. WORKY

    Same thing really, all five youngsters foisted on Rangers are there to continue their football education and be placed in the shop window.

    No doubt their wages are being picked up by Rangers and any profit from an eventual sale goes into Ashley’s pocket.

    Also obvious is the fact none are there to return to NUFC, they are the near misses, bought young but never really reached their projected potential.

    Also obviously they are there because Ashley has gained control of the board at Rangers and will do as he pleases, whether the fans like it or not, just as he’s done at NUFC.

    Yep it was a bad day for Rangers, allowing this money obsessed shark any association with the club and they will rue that day.

    What has the fact we were relegated a year prior to Pardew got to do with anything ?

    What we are discussing here is whether Carver can do a better job than Pardew, which remains to be seen.

    From a personal perspective, if we are to be relegated, lets do it with a bit of flair, which we have seen from the side since Pardew bailed out, allowing players to express themselves instead of playing that ridged, defensive , keep your shape, boring and predictable outdated game, that is Pardew’s.

    And even though Carver was nicknamed “The Miserable one” by the current dressing room, i’m sure most are more than happy to finally be let off the leash.

    Whether Pardew or Carver IMO there’s an equal chance of relegation and Carver may in fact be the better of the two, at least we will see a more entertaining style of football.

  22. Fact is does anyone care anymore whether we get regulated or not ?

    It seems that many fans express a sense of apathy to-wards the present situation, going nowhere and having no ambition other than avoiding the drop.

    Yes we still see gates of fifty thousand for home games, which is probably down to, that’s what we do every Saturday or Sunday.

    But there’s no real display’s of emotion or the noise generated in previous years, only a quiet crowd, more intent on criticizing of both the side and the present management, than actually urging the side on.

    This club has to attempt to change it’s image and become once again, an entertaining side, playing an open style of football, as Pardew in his desperation to keep his job, turned the club into one of the most predictable and boring side’s in the league, even when we had flair players on the bench.

    No wonder guys like Sissoko, Marveaux, Cabaye, HBA and others couldn’t/cant wait to escape, now Pardew is outta here, it’s about time to see some changes, or have the fans become enured by the present management group and no longer give a toss.

  23. chuck says:
    February 3, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    “Yep it was a bad day for Rangers, allowing this money obsessed shark any association with the club and they will rue that day.”

    Well companies are usually between the devil (Ashley) and the deep blue sea (bankruptcy) when Ashley moves in for the kill, and Rangers have certainly been like that. The thing is though, once Ashley got his placemen in there, they have successfully fended off all other attempts to help them, leaving them completely at Ashley’s mercy.

    My Pozzo theory is starting to catch on now since the exodus of the bairns.


  24. chuck says:
    February 3, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    “Fact is does anyone care anymore whether we get regulated or not ?”

    I think you mean ‘relegated’ Chuck :-)