Blogs: Graeme Bell on Mike Ashley

by • August 23, 2017 • tf blogsComments (9)818

Mike Ashley – Actions Speak Louder Than Words


For those of you who have never read any of my articles before, I am usually pretty positive when it comes to Newcastle United. One aspect of the club that makes that opinion waiver is Mike Ashley.

I am sure most if not all of you have seen the interview he gave to Sky last Sunday. Ashley gave on-air apologies to Sam Allardyce, Kevin Keegan, Chris Hughton and Alan Shearer. That’s all well and good but he is treating Rafael Benitez in the same vein. The Newcastle owner said that he cannot compete with the likes of Manchester City, none of the fans expect the club to do so.


The timing of the interview I found rather puzzling, it should have been done before the transfer window open. There was so much speculation surrounding how much the club had to spend this summer. Some media were reporting that Rafael Benitez has over £100M to spend, while others suggested he had £70 – £100M. The problem with all the speculation is that it has led to fans questioning where all the money has gone. If the Ashley interview came out before the window opened, I don’t think fans would be as frustrated as they are now.


Mike Ashley is a very good businessman but that’s where it stops, he is not a good owner of a football club. The point that bothers a lot of fans, including myself is that Newcastle have fallen behind the likes of West Brom and Stoke during Ashley’s time at the club. Two relegations in 10 years have had a detrimental affect on the club’s stature. Before the arrival of Ashley Newcastle were considered to be in the top bracket of clubs in the Premier League.


Ashley is open to selling Newcastle but he is asking far too much for the club. It had been reported by the Telegraph in June that the Newcastle owner would be prepared to sell if someone met the £400M asking price:  

Surely even Ashley realises that, that is an obscene amount for Newcastle United. If he reduced it to a reasonable asking price, I have no doubt in my mind that there would be plenty of interest in the club.


Ashley has the chance to redeem himself, if could just back Benitez properly – This fantastic club could go very far. He has done the hard bit in attracting a world class manager to the club, now he must back him. During Ashley’s interview he stated that he would not put any more of his own money into the club, his only option would be to sell some of his shares in Sports Direct. If he is not prepared to do that and see what he could achieve with Benitez at the helm, then for the good of the club he must stand aside.


Benitez can only do so much with the squad he has, while he has done some very shrewd business this summer, the need for further backing is vital. Benitez is adored by the fans and the feeling is clearly mutual. The Spaniard receives the sort of reception from the fans that very few previous managers have witnessed. Benitez understands what this club means to the fans, the likes of Alan Pardew and Steve McClaren never quite ‘got it’ up here.


If Ashley’s false promises drive Benitez out of the club, it would end in world war three. He would have a full scale riot on his hands. That is why it is vital that he does not continue to treat Benitez in the same vein as previous managers. I just cannot understand how Ashley doesn’t see the massive opportunity he has to learn from his mistakes and take this club forward.


Newcastle, in my opinion will not attract a better manager than Benitez. The importance of keeping him happy is paramount. The club simply can’t afford to go back to the days of Pardew. Benitez has united a fan base that had become disillusioned with the club, he has given us hope. The Spaniard has built a team that will give everything for the black and white shirt, which is all we ask for.


This window has been ridiculous in terms of prices, and Newcastle have done well with the players they have signed. If Ashley backs Benitez, even just a little more in the transfer window the Spaniard would be a lot less frustrated.


My eyes light up when I think about how far this club could go with an ambitious owner who is willing to back Benitez. Time will tell how things turn out, I just hope it doesn’t all end in tears yet again during the Ashley era.


Graeme Bell

Follow Graeme on twitter here 


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9 Responses to Blogs: Graeme Bell on Mike Ashley

  1. tomb says:

    I doubt there would be more than a few bedsheets displayed for Sky Sports News if Rafa was forced out.
    The boycott for the Spurs game a few years back was met with derision by most supporters. I think we would see:
    A few angry football phone in calls.
    A few angry posts from keyboard warriors like me.
    Empty promises to not renew season tickets.
    Before rushing off to buy the latest strip.

  2. mike says:

    That whats always puzzles me, why Cashley Ashley cannot see the huge potential we have, and he would gain from backing Rafa, and not with loads of money either, Rafa is shrewd , we can all be shrewd in how we take our club further

  3. Greeny's Guitar says:

    Graeme I have red your previous articles then wondered whether your positivity is a good thing and something we all should aspire to or if it’s one of the causes of the position our club finds itself in.

  4. John says:

    Mike Ashley will turn-in a profit on us this year, that’s all he is bothered about.

    Other than whinging and whining, no meaningful action will ever be taken against him. We’ve heard all about boycotts, non-renewal etc for many years, and apart from a principled few the majority continue to hand over their cash for season tickets on the premise of “I’m not letting Ashley ruin my day out” or “support the team, not the regime” understandable sentiments, but until people actually stop going Ashley will remain for many a year and nothing will change.

  5. SteveP says:

    I don’t think he’s a very good businessman at all.
    There’s only one company he’s taken from the ground up (Sports Direct) and even that had many name changes over the years (insolvencies perhaps???) from Mike Ashley Sports, to Sports World, Soccer World, Sports Soccer and now Sports Direct.
    Every other company/ brand in his portfolio with the exception of Debenhams is/ was a distressed company.
    He sees a distressed company, makes an offer for it, if the board turn it down he parks his tanks on their lawn by opening a rival shop close to theirs and waits for them to capitulate to his demands for buyout.
    Along the way, he cheapens the brand, keeping it alive by cheapening the product, 20 years ago, Lonsdale was still a pretty niche brand and you only saw proper boxers and serious gym officionados wearing their gear, now it’s on everybody’s backs in the sink estates of the UK.
    All in all, very good at what he does (by which I mean he keeps the profits rolling in from these brands) but businessman? nah, he’s no Alan Sugar, Clive Sinclairetc

  6. Rob Brown says:

    Net transfer spend last two years .8.6m inwards . Lies upon lies upon lies upon systematic relentless pissing on reasonable dreams . He has to be driven from our club . By all and any means . There is nothing else for it .

  7. Pete says:

    My fear from day one was that Ashley only saw Rafa as an emergency measure – first hoping to avoid relegation and then to get us back into the EPL. With that objective achieved, we are back to that painful question we all know the answer to: what is our owner’s ambition for the club? I had hoped Mike might come to value the way Rafa is transforming the set up, uniting the fan base and generating Positivity, but all the signs are that Mike is simply concerned that Rafa will get in the way of his only plan which is to run the club as cheaply as possible while avoiding relegation. Ashley’s interview was filled out with cheap ‘positives’ like the staged apologies to those he has previously treated with contempt: empty words that cost him nothing but will gain him kudos with those outside of Newcastle. Mike doesn’t like accountability and that’s why he never does real interviews. He likes to say one thing and do another, he likes to be unpredictable. And yet in his 10 years of owning this proud club, few but the occasional 12 year old keyboard warrior can seriously doubt who is to blame for the steep decline in nufc’s stature, the relegations, the utter, utter absence of ambition.

    I don’t think the Rafa situation can go on indefinitely. I believe Mike thinks he can piss him off enough to jump ship when a decent job comes up, and then replace him with the kind of manager who will be grateful and not rock the boat.

    • Paul Brown says:

      Bang on Pete. I would also add that a “good businessman” wouldn’t treat his employees like slaves.

  8. Mike Dixon says:

    it will end up in tears…….but as previously stated 50k will still turn up drink the crp beer and moan but tell everyone to “get behind the lads”. this owner is a gambler and will chance his arm on staying up ..just! nothing else.