by • November 20, 2013 • NewsComments (14)1861

As was mentioned in the weekly editorial THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES, we have certain SportsDirectquestions regarding the relationship between Newcastle United and Sports Direct, the company owned in large part by Newcastle United owner, Mike Ashley.

Our main question concerns the relationship between NUFC.DIRECT – the online merchandising arm of Newcastle United Football Club. It has become common knowledge that NUFC.DIRECT is a company owned completely by Sports Direct and registered, like that company in Nottinghamshire. For all intents and purposes, NUFC.DIRECT operates completely from Nottinghamshire too. This company appears to be completely separate from Newcastle United Football Club.

So then, our questions are:

What is the financial arrangement between Newcastle United and Sports Direct particular to the operation of NUFC.DIRECT?

If a supporter buys club merchandise from NUFC.DIRECT, what proportion of the money goes to Newcastle United and what proportion to Sports Direct?

Buying official club merchandise is an act of supporting the club. As supporters we deserve to have full details about this relationship.

Until that information is provided by the club we are entitled to wonder whether the money supporters spend on club merchandise goes towards Newcastle United Football Club or Sports Direct.

We did receive a response from the Supporters Liaison Officer, Lee Marshall as per below:

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the email and apologies for the delay in getting back to you – I’ve been away from the office for a few days so I’m playing catch-up.

Given the suspicion that you mention, I think it’s worthwhile bringing this up as a discussion point in the Fans Forum so I’ll put it on the agenda for the benefit of all fans. Probably worth having all the details published by the club so everyone can get an understanding of how it works.

Thanks again,


Lee Marshall

PR and Supporter Liaison Manager

Newcastle United Football Club

It is all well and good for this matter to be referred to the Fans Forum but as the only properly constituted and members based organisation, the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, have been banned indefinitely, for what many assume to be leading on the tough questions and the remaining supporters on the Forum are a disparate group of individuals with no organisation within them, this is a wholly unsatisfactory response. The Fans Forum, discredited as it is, is not for another month and given the time of year, I’d have thought, Newcastle United would have wanted to deal with this matter as a point of urgency.

Far be it from me to suggest you draw your own conclusions.


On a separate matter, one of our accountant writers noted in the new issue of true faith (TF107) the to the Sports Direct Annual Report for 2013, Sports Direct made £498,000 from Newcastle United out of “Related Party Transactions”.

We would welcome the club to explain what this payment from Newcastle United to Sports Direct represents. What is it for?

Officials at the club will understand, given the disquiet amongst supporters who have learnt Sports Direct receives extensive free advertising from Newcastle United, this additional news of the club making payments to the company owned largely by Mike Ashley will further increase concern at how Newcastle United operates.


Please let it be clear however, that no-one here is suggesting anything illegal is being committed by Newcastle United Football Club or Sports Direct. TF_INITIALS_LOGO

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  1. Daft as a brush. says:

    As supporters ” we deserve to have full details ”

    Really ?

    NUFC owned by Ashley .
    Sports Direct controlled/ majority owned by Ashley.

    It’s quite clear that he is diverting profit away from the club coffers and so what if he is , how are group of fans going to change that ? But what makes supporters think they deserve to be party to private information between two companies is beyond me.

    Concentrate on what happens on the pitch , what happens behind the scenes is beyond your control and in that respect becomes almost irrelevant .

    It’s about time to accept he who owns the ball controls the game , no different to playing in the park years ago it’s just that the stakes are bigger now.

    Move on.

    • Tom P. says:

      Daft as a brush seems a very accurate name for you pal!
      My only question for you is how did you get your head out of the sand far enough to write that ridiculous post!
      When you buy merchandise from a company with the name NUFC Direct, it is reasonable to assume the money will go direct to NUFC!!!
      When the owner insists that the club needs to be self sufficient,every penny the club can earn is critical!
      If the money from shirt sales etc goes to SD how can that be right??
      If the above is correct that NUFC PAID SD nearly £500k in the year 2012,what could that possibly be for??
      SD get blanket free advertising and it would appear the benefit of any monies spent at NUFC Direct and the club pays THEM £500k????
      I look forward to hearing the explanation for that!!!

    • the magpie says:

      I know its hard for Nufc fans not to buy merchandise from the club shops but but its #time4change at NUFC. We all need to stick together and either get the FCB to change his ways or sell up and leave.
      this season NUFC have roughly £134m income
      £60m tv, £42m premier league last season, £18m profit from transfers and £14m from Wonga this does not include season ticket sales, membership, or corporate income yet AP said NUFC would have gone into the red buying one significant player in the summer.
      its time the fans stood together and boycott buying merchandise from the club shops and from until we the fans get answers as we deserve better.

  2. Phil says:

    @Daft as a Brush

    Isn’t the point of bringing this up to show fans that money they think they are contributing to the team is actually supporting Mr Ashley’s main business?…fans can affect this is by simply not buying club merchandise until it is clear that the money will be going into NUFC, not SD, coffers.

    • Daft as a brush says:

      The majority of the fans will keep on buying the merchandise regardless like lambs to the slaughter, the tiny minority will voice their concerns and it will be forgotten about.

      Stop buying the merchandise but still pay to watch every week , seems like a contradiction to me.

      Stop going , or stop buying when in reality it’ll make no real difference anyway , voicing your opinion is fine but will it make a difference ?

      Thought not.

  3. Chris C says:

    “what happens behind the scenes is beyond your control and in that respect becomes almost irrelevant”

    cups not a priority, can’t compete with the likes of Southampton and Swansea, no ambition, no investment, irrelevant?

    Apathetic, naïve.

  4. workyticket says:

    “On a separate matter, one of our accountant writers noted in the new issue of true faith (TF107) the to the Sports Direct Annual Report for 2012, Sports Direct made £498,000 from Newcastle United out of “Related Party Transactions”.”

    When I looked under the “Related Party Transactions” section (page 104) of the Sports Direct Annual Report for 2012, all I could find was Heatons, No Fear International Limited and Brasher Leisure Limited. I will look again.

    • workyticket says:

      Nee botha Michael, I wasn’t being serious.

      I’ve been following the club’s finances and comparing them with the drivel they put out to the media (which all goes unquestioned) for quite some some time and I have another good question for any future ‘Fans’ Forum’ meeting. It is this:

      How much did Wonga pay for the naming rights to St James’ Park?

      They announced several times they had either ‘bought’ or ‘purchased’ the naming rights of the stadium for the fans, and yet everything I’ve looked at seems to indiicate they paid the square root of bugger all.

      Now no-one minds that the name has been changed back of course, however it would be very interesting to hear their answer on the record, or indeed, just as interesting if they refuse to answer it.

  5. Keith says:

    Is it not possible to hear from those left on the ‘Fans Forum’? To call them a “disparate group of individuals with no organisation within them” is all well and good, and I understand your reasons, but it seems harsh on people we have no idea about. A ‘Meet the Fans Forum’ type piece could be beneficial for everyone, including them. And would give us a chance to see what they have to say about it, about the NUST, and about what they hope to achieve through it. I”m not sure if that’s feasible or I’m just pissing in the wind, thought I’d throw it out anyway (the thought, not the piss, like).

    • Matt Flynn says:

      Good idea from Keith.

      I tried to contact the away supporters fans forum representative, got shoved through an official club email system and never heard back from them. Not dissing the lad but the Fans Forum is a bit of a joke if the club control the communication between the supporters and the people the club have chosen to represent our views.

      Article 35 of UEFA’s Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations required any club that wanted to compete in Europe last season to appoint a Supporters Liaison Officer, and SLOs are now mandatory under Premier League rules. UEFA also say that the Supporters Liaison Officers are supposed to be “an advocate of both sides” and not simply act as a club PR tool. Fat chance of that happening at NUFC if the only democratic supporters group get banned from the fans forum for asking the wrong questions.

  6. “disparate group of individuals with no organisation within them” – that statement isn’t meant as any disrespect, it is simply a statement of fact. We don’t know who they are really, how to contact them and they have no independent means of communicating with their fellow fans.

  7. jaynenufc says:

    We the fans have every right to know what goes on at OUR club, in case anyone forgets, if there were no fans, there would be no NUFC, we have every right to know where OUR money goes…We the Fans were here before Ashley came and will be here long after he is gone…..ITS OUR CLUB, OUR HERITAGE AND OUR RIGHT as NUFC fans