Thru Black and White Eyes


by • January 22, 2018 • TBAWEComments (13)1487




It’s been quite a week.

Last Tuesday, Sky Sports News went really large on a statement alleged to come from Mike Ashley which rejected the received wisdom that Amanda Staveley’s PCP had bid to buy Newcastle United. In that statement, Ashley alleged that attempting to negotiate the deal had been exhausting and further he accused Mrs Staveley of being a time-waster. I can’t confirm the tale passed to me but it is thought the call into SKY came from Ashley himself who, well, may have had a drink. Far-fetched? Remember Kinnear’s memorable appearance on Talksport. This is Newcastle United under the stewardship of Mike Ashley. This is not a normal football club.

Whilst the claim of no-bid and accusations of time-wasting appeared risible at the time, a few days later and in a well-constructed and timed interview with George Caulkin of The Times, the claims from the Ashley side were completely exploded.

In short, Mrs Staveley provided full details of the bids made to Ashley to relieve him of Newcastle United. That included a staged deal totalling £350m. You’ll remember in his interview with SKY where he announced his money was wallpaper and he couldn’t invest in the club, he heavily set out possible terms for a staged deal. When he received a staged deal from PCP, he rejected it and invited a one-off cash payment. So, the Staveley side made a bid of a flat £250m, exercising the privileges the world over of a discount on a cash deal. That is the deal on the table which Ashley has denied even exists. Remember those exhausting negotiations Ashley was part of when he was on an extended Christmas/New Year holiday in the US with his son-in-law controlling the deal.

The deal that doesn’t exist even though we know the identity of the Staveley’s side solicitors are Freshfields with the involvement of a certain Chris Mort.

With his SKY statement now torn to shreds, Ashley’s side has made some pathetic statement claiming the Staveley response was all about saving face. I’d suggest the Staveley side has exposed Ashley for the liar we all know him to be. Then, if you doubted Ashley’s potential for the most obvious lies, he was at it again, casting doubt upon whether Staveley’s side had the resources to buy the club. This was an odd statement to make given PCP would not be allowed access to the United accounts and be allowed access to every detail of the Newcastle United business under a set of non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements in order to conduct due diligence had they not provided proof of funds.

Ashley’s side now veer off into the rough claiming they will not allow interested parties to discuss taking over United, unless they pay for the privilege of talking to the club about it. You’ll remember Llambias said something similar about interested parties buying an executive box in order to show their intentions. A truly surreal turn of events but perhaps symptomatic of the flap Ashley is in about a willing, capable and determined buyer who looks increasingly like she has parked HER tanks on HIS lawn.

Not that, that was it as the week took another bizarre twist as Ashley promised to buy players out of his own pocket (remember that wallpaper Sky interview?) and making another noise about wanting Rafa to extend his contract at United. He’s done this before.

I almost forgot about the stuff about four other bidders interested in buying United, one of which was even from Dubai. Nobody without heavy medication believes that tripe.

The Amanda Staveley deal is the only one on the table.

Then of course there are a number of side-stories.

It’s never pleasant to see Dennis Wise but the sight of him rambling incoherently about Mike Ashley and his financial management and intentions for Newcastle United left me open-jawed.  There are a number of descriptions you can easily give to Wise – a violent, cowardly thug sits alongside him being a loathed, toxic piece of scum but we can also add thick as pig shit as well. But it is also instructive that figures with reputations as low as Wise can be the only people Bishop can shoe-horn onto a very receptive Sky. As for Craig Bellamy chirruping along to the pro-Ashley narrative, I don’t think it’s possible to be repelled so much by an ex-player and makes you consider just how difficult he must have made managing the club when he played for us. He almost made me feel sympathy for Souness. Not quite though.

As ever, the amount of disinformation being pumped into the discussion is truly alarming. Fake news doesn’t begin to cover it.

According to the slack-jawed yahoos who populate the likes of Talksport, Mike Ashley has made Newcastle United “financially stable” and even better “debt free”. If Newcastle United was financially stable we’d be able to buy some decent footballers.

As for the debt, we are thankful to Andy Trobe, a long time scribe for true faith. Andy has the correct qualifications to allow him to professionally assess the United debt position.

When Mike Ashley bought Newcastle United, the debt stood at c£76m. That was 2007 and extended to debts owed on players and of course the costs of extending SJP. It wasn’t a brilliant position but it wasn’t a basket case. The debt is now c.£144m, all owed to Mike Ashley. That debt is largely attributable to the two relegations of 2009 and 2016 both directly attributable to Ashley’s dysfunctional running of Newcastle United.

In terms of financially stable, every revenue stream at United has shrunk in the last decade. The club takes less in match-day ticket sales on 2018 than it did in 2007. The club takes less in commercial income in 2018 than it did in 2007. The club takes less in merchandise sales in 2018 than it did in 2007. The only area where income has increased is in revenue from TV – an area where Ashley has absolutely no input into in terms of negotiations as that is conducted centrally via the Premier League.

We all need to learn and understand these facts and we need to correct all of the rubbish coming down the media channels.

There are enough people out there who absorb everything they hear and for them it becomes their truth.

The story of this week is Ashley has promised Rafa players. It is the 22nd day of the transfer window and we have completed absolutely no business whatsoever. That follows a disastrous summer window of inertia on Ashley’s behalf. Rafa sensibly and diplomatically has stated clearly no talks on a new deal for him will be discussed until after the transfer window.

The Staveley side have made clear their enthusiasm for Rafa to be at United to close the deal. They have also said they will maintain an interest in buying United even if relegation were to happen, though that would be considerably less favourable terms to those now on the table. The big loser in that scenario is Ashley.

In terms of working out the way we as supporters want this to go, I’d suggest Ashley isn’t going to fund any significant player purchases given both sides appear to be about £50m apart in their valuations of the club. I’d also think Rafa is not going to sign a new contract for a club owned by Mike Ashley given his experience of him over the last 12 months. No takeover and it’s a matter of time before Rafa goes and I’d guess that would see the atmosphere around United turn quickly toxic, probably similar in strength to September 2009 when KK had had enough.

I’ve said it myself and I’ve heard it said many, many times too. When Rafa goes I will chuck it and so will many thousands of others. Ashley should know this and he will know a relegated club with supporters in open revolt will see his investment turn to dust. Ashley cannot believe the Geordie public will continue to tolerate handing their money over to support a Zombie club.

This is Ashley’s opportunity to get out of Newcastle United, virtually break even and have a huge cash windfall.

He should take it.

None of this means this should be taken as any kind of cheerleading for Amanda Staveley and her PCP group. We know far too little of her, the backing she has and what her intentions truly are to go all in on her. I’d like to think over the last couple of decades we have matured as a support to not be taken in by promises. Words are cheap and it is action we want to see in every area of the club in order for it to grow in every way.

But we know plenty about Ashley and none of it is good. Staveley will bring hope and that is a big enough attraction right now.




Keep On, Keepin’ On …


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13 Responses to THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – AND SHE SAID … 22/JAN/2018

  1. Peter Ward says:

    Just about sums up the dire situation we’re in. Can it get worse? Yes there is a serious risk of the club imploding if all the current negatives come together. As for Ashley nothing is new. The tide turned soon after he bought the club and that is ten long years ago. He’s been tolerated since then despite a lot of hot air . He treats everyone with contempt and this latest saga is more of the same.

  2. I can understand other people and outsiders falling for all the Ashley PR spin but I will never understand how any genuine NUFC fan cannot see that Ashley is the root of all problems at our club. Even allowing for a few Ashley paid trolls there does seem to be far too many people still trying to excuse him. If Rafa does go and the fans still trundle on, I will have to finally accept we are no longer the proud, passionate and determined fanbase that so many of us grew up with. Ashley is the problem but we can still be the answer. Otherwise we are complicit in allowing him to destroy our club. Sports Direct is his only true love and also his “achilles heel” and when we manage to tarnish that we will get rid of him. But so far insufficient numbers have been willing to take up the fight. If Rafa does go, the challenge is with us again.

  3. nick says:

    Based upon his experiences over the past ten years he’ll think he can ride-out the fuss that will follow Rafa leaving and relegation.

  4. Ian Summers says:

    An obvious opportunity to give Ashley a message is the direct debit start date for 2018/2019 season tickets. I cancelled ours last year and the only penalty was a gracious reduction in loyalty points from the club. It’s hard to understand why the media give credence to the drivel spouted by Ashley and his sycophants such as Dennis Wise. The crap spewed by Bellamy also reveals the bubble so many footballers live in. I’ll continue to support Rafa and this group of players but if Ashley still owns the club come next season I’d rather spend match days doing something less soul destroying.

  5. Sean Whelan says:

    Amanda Staveley didn’t explode Mike Ashley’s claim that she is a time waster. She used the generally excellent George Caulkin to publish her press release. It wasn’t critically analysed. Saturday’s paper was a ramble about I don’t know much about her but I don’t trust Mike Ashley. Mike Ashley isn’t the question.

    The asking price is £350m. Offering 30% below that is not credible. Newcastle United is a business that will turnover £160m this season with wages at less than 50% of turnover. In a market where centre-halves from Southampton cost £75m, the £350m seems reasonable. As David Conn, widely recognized as an expert on football finances, argues – “It is not clear why Ashley would be expected to accept less even than the £263m he has spent on Newcastle, which he has made financially stable, in a vastly more lucrative Premier League than when he took over in 2007.”

    Amanda Staveley will only explode Mike Ashley’s claims that she is time wasting, if and when she makes an offer remotely close to the asking price. She claims to have made other offers in staged payments – one of which included £50m if Newcastle qualified for the Champions League. That isn’t credible. Along with clauses about relegation and the outcome of the HMRC investigation. It’s not clear if she cut out some PG Tips vouchers. You either want something or you don’t. The three bids she has claimed to make, were never going to be accepted and I suspect she knows that.

    Staveley has also name dropped super rich family the Reubens as co-investors. Who have since said they want nothing to do with it. Ouch.

    It’s not the first time Staveley has been accused of time wasting, she reportedly tried in vain to takeover Liverpool. Tom Werner, Liverpool Chariman said – “We have better things to do than batting down rumours about negotiations with Ms Staveley. However, there is no truth in them.”

    People need to get away from this idea that Mike Ashley is the exception. The Premier League is a nest of liars, thieves, vagabonds and psychopaths. Lots have been uncritical of Staveley arguing we don’t know enough about her. I beg to differ, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. In an interview with the financial times, when quizzed on potential investment opportunities in the Middle East, Staveley replied – “Very interest in Iraq, love Iraq.” It’s comedy gold, she’s such a cunt she transgresses into parody. The film American Psycho was written about her.

    We’re taking about a woman who sees innocent children being bombed to death and thinks – “planning permission.”

    You can down a pint at Arsenal or go down on a Sheikh at Newmarket. It makes no odds, a vulture capitalist is a vulture capitalist.

    • nick says:

      If it’s worth Ashley’s asking price then where are all the other bidders? He’s supposedly tried to sell it three times.

      Obviously we have to be a bit careful about applying standard economics to a situation where Ashley only needs one buyer but, in general, if there is no demand for a product at a given price then that’s an indicator that the price is too high.

      • kenny says:

        i doubt whether he really wants bidders. I doubt whether he will ever sell as long sky, bt & whoever else keeps pouring money in the prem thus attracting the worst of human scum into our football clubs. I hope sky (demonic brain washing organisation) go to far with the next deal, & explode with debt & a product the world no longer wants.

    • the Ashley statement said there was no bid. There clearly was and is a bid. The club is up for sale and is worth what someone will pay for it. He has an offer of £250m for it. If he wishes to reject that offer he will need to invest £50m to retain PL status.

      Southampton went for less than £250m. They are a far more stable and better run club than NUFC.

      • nick says:

        Similarly, didn’t a big chunk of Everton change hands fairly recently? I’m guessing the club was valued as less than Ashley’s valuation of NUFC. Everton might not have been on too many open top bus parades lately but it’s a big club, never been relegated, and way more stable than mike Ashley’s Newcastle.

  6. Nick says:

    She’s a pretty lady and that’s good enough for me

  7. Ken Brown says:

    As a non accountant/business savvy man, I am at a loss as to Ashley’s intentions. Does he actually want to sell the club? There is only ONE bid on the table despite his claims. In other words there is no clamour or frenzy to buy NUFC. The club it seems is not as desirable as we would like to think.
    He has allegedly tried to sell the club for at least 8 seasons now and has declared several times in the past that he is not interested in owning it and wants out. Therefore take the ONLY offer and get out surely!
    It’s all very well him demanding £350 million but absolutely no-one else is queing up to give him anything at all. Zilch, Nowt, Nada, Rockall.
    Also, there seems to be many who look upon him as some sort of saviour by paying £134m for the club and then a further £130 m to bail us out of our debt. But what about the money he’s taken out over the years, the TV cash, the merchandising cash, the St. James/Gallowgate land that F Shepherd bought for future ground extensions. He has sub-contracted all of the hospitality and has had free advertising since he took over. To me a cheque for £250million pounds seems like a fair return especially as there is not another offer in sight.
    Probably most, if not all, of the above can be discounted as someone who hasn’t a clue about business and it would be a fair point, but if there’s only one bidder then he’s not got a lot of leverage it would seem to me.

  8. Chris Nappin says:

    Ashley is gambling that we’ll stay up this season, as the club will obviously be worth more if we’re guaranteed Premier League TV money both this season and next. This is also helped by the fact that the future TV money will increase when the terms are renegotiated in the near future, not that I’m stating anything other than the obvious there.
    Given that there are 3 points between the bottom 6 (where we are currently) and 6 points between the bottom 11, coupled with the fact that other teams around us are likely to exceed our January transfer spend, I can’t see our chances of survival being better than 50/50. It’s a coin flip, black or red. If the answer however is how can we get rid of Ashley, then my first question is whether or not relegation makes that more likely or not.
    Does Ashley grind it out when we almost certainly fail to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking and have to put more money into the club to keep it afloat, in the hopes of one day returning to the top division? Or would he cut his losses and sell to someone who he’s recently negotiated with who could probably get a deal sorted fairly quickly? Alternatively, if we stay up and the value of the club rises, then does that price the club out of reach of any potential buyer? Or does the increased revenue make it a more attractive proposition, albeit a more risky one if your club goes down? I’m not really sure of the answer myself, but it doesn’t look like we’ll be certain of safety anytime soon.
    The description of Wise in that sentence was hilarious by the way, had to read it about 3 times to appreciate the full glory of the writing. The paragraph about the debt and the revenue streams should be used by presenters to counter any ridiculous claim that we are financially stable because of Ashley from the endless stream of moronic pundits. It should be common knowledge to every man, woman and child with even a vague interest in Newcastle United. Shearer’s done a pretty good job at exposing the state of the club recently on Match of the Day, and whilst I’m not massively au fait with Twitter crack I’m going to try and get this message across (without stealing your exact words Michael) to Shearer and as many people/entities as I can, although I’m not really sure what the best way of doing that is at the moment, ideas welcome. The facts are fairly plain to see and we shouldn’t let anybody’s narrative get in the way of that as we all know they don’t have Newcastle’s interests at heart.
    Another question is what the exact arrangements are for the merchandising of NUFC products in relation to Sports Direct – does anybody know? One thing I delight in recalling is when Simon Bird and George Caulkin bought shares in Sports Direct and humiliated Ashley at the AGM. I’d like to find out what the Sports Direct-NUFC arrangements are and am assuming that if you buy a share for £3.77 that you’d be able to attend the AGM and ask the question? I don’t think there’d be anything to stop fans doing that and we could embarrass him every year whilst learning exactly how ‘interest-free’ all these loans are. It clearly benefits his interest if both merchandising and advertising for Sports Direct have been given a massive boost at the expense of our club. Surely this arrangement affects the asking price for the club as well, given it’s effect on revenue for the next god knows how long.
    It was interesting to read Sean’s comments above about Staveley there and we do all have to keep an open mind. I remember when Ashley took over there was one comment from a lad on here telling us exactly how much of a twat he was when we were all too excited at the promise of billionaire wealth and someone other than Shepherd to really question Ashley. It looked like he was one of the lads (one of the fat ones) who came to away games and necked pints, he didn’t let on how much a massive cunt he was back then and the same could be true of Staveley. However, it’s difficult to see how you can get worse than the zombie state we’re in at the moment as hope is actually a huge part of being a fan really. Middle Eastern wealth tends to have brought/bought success wherever it’s gone in football so if the deal did rekindle at any time we’d just have to hold our breath and hope for the best as we could be right up there.

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