As was mentioned in the weekly editorial THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES, we have certain questions 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:
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.
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.