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 …
true faith is Newcastle United’s longest running and most widely read fanzine. It is one of the most prominent and respected fanzine titles in the UK. It is definitely one of the hardest working. This is issue 136 of the fanzine. It is FREE to download now and you can read it offline and on any device you like. For best results we recommend a tablet or i-pad. true faith is written by supporters for supporters. It is for people who like to read about Newcastle United and football in general. We do something a bit different. This is avowedly a partisan Geordie publication but also internationalist. You won’t get pop-ups, click-bait, recycled second hand cut and paste news and we won’t lazily reheat nonsense about SKY pundits. We’ll leave that to others. We respect you all too much to go down that road. This is good, solid, old fashioned fanzine writing for the modern supporter in a digital, modern format. Our reading figures for the fanzine are truly astonishing. Each issue, our readership grows and so our audience gets ever bigger. We must be doing something right.
Just click on the image as below and its all yours.