Monday 26 August 2019

John Giles: Newcastle would be worth a fortune if Mike Ashley had acted as an intelligent and supportive owner

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Newcastle owner Mike Ashley
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley

John Giles

Mike Ashley wants just one thing from football. Sales. If his sports goods are selling well, he probably feels the same way Newcastle United supporters felt when Rafa Benitez secured promotion for them back in May.

I’m sure there are plenty of owners and directors who feel like Ashley and celebrate a profit in the annual returns the same way supporters welcome a new prolific goalscorer but I don’t think any of them are as obvious about it as this man.

I think he has made a right mess of the sale of the club and while he may be a very good businessman, I believe he has thrown hundreds of millions away by treating Newcastle United as a profit-and-loss account and nothing else.

Had he acted as a supportive, intelligent owner, Newcastle would have done so much better and would be worth a fortune.

Benitez is the safest pair of hands in football and while I can’t say with complete certainty that Newcastle would be further up the table and looking up instead of down had Ashley backed him with money during the summer, I’m sure they would be in better shape.

Logically, Newcastle in mid-table and going relatively well in the Premier League just 18 months after they were relegated would be worth a lot more than a club struggling desperately after a very poor run.

The group trying to buy the club have offered £300m. Think about it, what would Newcastle be worth if Ashley had gone about his business sensibly and backed his manager?

Imagine what Newcastle United would be like as a club if decades of neglect and bad management had instead been replaced by an approach which placed the football team at the centre of everything rather than profit?

Ashley only thinks about profit and that is underlined by the fact of his involvement in Glasgow Rangers.

What have Newcastle and Rangers got in common? A vast, global fan base and huge marketing potential and that’s what Ashley covets.

The problem, of course, for Newcastle fans is that they have absolutely no idea about the credentials of what is being described as “mystery bidders”, fronted by businesswoman Amanda Staveley, who want to buy the club.

Based on all that has gone before and not just at Newcastle, they cannot be very confident about the road ahead.

The crazy thing about all of this is the simple fact that, run properly and with even a small amount of real success ,like an FA Cup win or a Top Four finish, Newcastle would boom.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Newcastle could quickly grow to become a £1billion club, one of the very few with that potential.

So for all the praise Ashley receives for his business acumen, I think he has missed the point spectacularly.

Sure, he has cashed in numerous times in the ten years he has been the owner and as recently as this week, was trying to push £11m towards his brother John on the grounds that he has been under-paid for his work at Newcastle.

But so much more was possible if he took off his business hat and, instead of removing cash from St James Park at various times over the last decade, invested in the hopes and dreams of the fans instead.

The return from that could be truly enormous.

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