A consortium backed by Saudi Arabia looks to have secured Newcastle United after owner Mike Ashley has finally agreed to sell the club.
Reports suggested that the deal had been at the advanced stage in the region for the club to be sold at £370m. That figure has dropped to £300m, although maybe 370 was always going to be an inflated figure. The deal looks likely it will go through now and fans of the club will be more than happy if it does giving their disdain for Ashley over the years.
Ashley of course has threatened to sell the club on numerous occasions before, each time deals have fallen through usually at the eleventh hour, and although this new one has not been confirmed it could well be the real deal.
But why do Newcastle fans have such a dislike to Ashley who took over the club in 2007? It probably all started when Kevin Keegan a local hero resigned from the club as as manager when Ashley had just begun ownership. Ashley had brought in Keegan which was a huge plus, but then he reportedly didn’t let him do his job properly in the transfer market and Keegan couldn’t take it anymore before handing in his resignation. Obviously this didn’t go down well with fans.
There was also the curious case of giving a manager an 8 year contract, unheard of in football. That manager was Alan Pardew who hardly had the best track record ever, and once he had the contract, form for the club duly fell apart and Pardew soon moved onto Crystal Palace.
Ashley owns many business’s with his most famous in England being Sports Direct, and made the mistake of renaming Newcastle’s St James’ Park ground, The Sports Direct Arena. It made sense for him, more exposure, but let’s face it the name also sounds very flat and of course fans of the club were very displeased. It was no surprise that the name didn’t stick and the original was returned.
Perhaps Ashley’s biggest mistake was sacking Rafa Benitez a genuinely good manager who many felt could have taken the club forward. But Beintez and Ashley clashed over transfer funds, something that the fans could see coming when he was appointed and Benitez lost out, or rather the fans did and the Spaniard was gone.
Ashley used to be able to sit next to the fans during games and that didn’t last long. Is he completely to blame though? True he’s made mistakes, but he has also injected money into the club. It’s good to look at both sides and there is a mentality in football of anger towards owners, even the best owners are always accused of being in the game just for the money. In that football unlike many other sports still has that bitterness wrapped in it. For example rival supporters unlike say rugby cannot sit together, and therefore even club owners need to be discreet when entering stadiums, just look at West Ham’s ones if you needed any further evidence.
Ashley may be more than happy that he is finally severing links, in that case everyone will be happy. As for Newcastle it is yet unknown how much money the new consortium will be able to bring to the club, but the fans are going to be happy for now and may start wondering if this is the beginning of a new chapter in the clubs history?
How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.