Is his commitment to Newcastle really so questionable?


Is his commitment to Newcastle United really beyond question?Written by Tom MacGregor for You will have to look far and wide to find a Newcastle fan who has something good to say about the club’s owner Mike Ashley. The Toon Army have encountered a variety of lows since Ashley acquired the club from Sir John Hall and Freddy Shepherd back in 2007. Be it the fans’ displeasure surrounding the hiring of Dennis Wise as a club executive or their relegation to the Championship. Ashley is not alone in his current plight though. The Glazers at Manchester United and the now departed consortium of Tom Hicks and George Gillett at Liverpool suffered much the same as Ashley in their attempts to win over the fans. I want to determine if the torrent of criticism Ashley has come in for is justified?

When Ashley first arrived in the North East he would often sit among the fans in his shirt and watch Newcastle games, these days this is just a distant memory. Ashley’s relationship with the Geordie public deteriorated after the resignation of Newcastle idol Kevin Keegan. Seemingly Ashley adhered to the fans’ calls for Keegan’s predecessor Sam Allardyce to be sacked, and when Keegan was instated as manager there was euphoria on Tyneside. King Kev’s second coming as manager was a brief one though and the circumstances resulted in Ashley’s name being loathed by the majority ever since. Keegan declared his role had become untenable due to Dennis Wise negotiating transfer dealings above his head and interfering with team affairs.

Regardless of the mistakes Ashley has made with his running of the club, hasn’t he tried his best to listen and comply with the supporters needs? I’m sure most Newcastle fans will disagree with the above, but taking what I am about to say into consideration I wonder if some fans’ opinions will waver slightly?

Ashley sacked Allardyce when the fans called for his head and replaced him with Keegan. Understandably, Keegan’s resignation caused disenchantment among the fans. Ten days after Keegan left the club Ashley again bowed to the fans demands and put the club on the market –  he is quoted as saying I have listened to you. You want me out. That is what I am now trying to do.”

Furthermore, after failing to sell the club Ashley has now ploughed into it a total of 139.8 million pounds of his own money. He again tried to appease the fans by installing Toon legend Alan Shearer as manager in April 2009. Shearer failed to keep the club in the league and they were relegated in May 2009, after which Shearer left his temporary role.

After considering these points I wonder if any Newcastle fans will have a change of heart? I doubt it. However, for all Ashley’s shortcomings as the clubs owner I think he has genuinely attempted to listen to and follow through on the fans’ consensus. His decision to change the name of St James’ Park to James’ Park was another attempt to raise money for the club and, while understandably it received a great deal of criticism, it was only a temporary name change until the end of the season. Ashley has felt the wrath of the fans more recently on two occasions – the sacking of popular manager Chris Hughton and the sale of star striker Andy Carroll. It seems the man can do no right, but wasn’t £35 million for Carroll a great piece of business? That’s dependent on whether Newcastle survive relegation and spend big in the summer.

My overwhelming view is that Ashley bought Newcastle with the best of intentions for the club and while he has made mistakes along the way, he has always attempted to do what’s best for the fans. Derek Llambias has revealed this week Ashley has never taken a penny out of the club and that without Ashley’s financial backing the club wouldn’t be here now. If Ashley continues to invest and keep the club afloat it begs the question what more can he do to please the fans?

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  • Toonku says:


  • redman says:

    as much as I want to like newcastle fans & the club. I just can’t anymore.

    They still think there some massive club, and that they have constantly been wronged. Ive shared similar views as to this artical. Newcastle fans got who they wanted
    when they wanted

    Its not worked. They arn’t great. They have alot of work to do and need to do a lot less complaining with it

  • shaun says:

    Unbelievable !! This is a great example why naive journalists should not be allowed to write articles about subjects they know little to nothing about. Does Tom Macgregor expect NUFC fans to respect a man who effectively relegated the club ? His points outlines are disturbingly naive :
    * Ashley claims to have put the club up for sale but he is still here and did notb sell it.
    *He installed Shearer as Manager for 8 games… EIGHT and then sacked him..The Almighty himself couldnt turn that shower around in eight games.
    * Does Macgregor really believe that Ashley was trying to raise money for the club by changing the name of the ground to…. Mike Ashley actually owns and clearly is the only person to benefit by this advertisement in way of revenue and tax evasion tricks..It seems Macgregor is as ill informed and naive as Ashley himself and request is made that he keeps his comments to himself…Idiot !

  • shaun says:

    P.S. The below extract is taken from the Twitter page of Tom Macgregor :
    “Before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes”
    I suggest he takes his own advice. Plonker !

  • Gallowgate says:

    Redman – stop believing the Red Top press, it’s people like yourself that will believe anything that is written before speaking to NUFC fans for a more unbiased view. Naturally there are some that think NUFC are massive, etc, but they’re in the minority.
    And as for Toonku saying Leave – who’s buying the club then? Come on! You must have a name that can pull out £150-200 million at the drop of the hat and wants to own NUFC. If not then shut up.
    Fact is MA has made mistakes, but slowly he’s putting the club in the position for a sale in possibly a year to two years time (little to no debt and a sustainable PL status). It was never going to work under Shepherd and he nearly bankrupted us and now the new guy has all this to sort out.

  • kev says:

    Im a toon fan, and although Ashley has made some horrendous mistakes (re-hiring Keegan for one), he has for the last couple of years not done a lot wrong, I for one am very grateful for his continued backing of the club, we are a growing club once again, one step at a time.

  • Kev says:

    ‘Ashley has not done a lot wrong’ excuse me!? What has he done right? It was down to him we were relegated, remember Joe kinnear!? He has treat men like shearer, keegan and hughton with total contempt. Pardew is a puppet for llambias and Ashley. Get out Ashley

  • Steve says:

    Ashley is a proven liar it was proved in a court of law. Also you said that Ashley has not took a penny out of the club as I understood it the accounts that he released were missing alot of key points so what is he hiding??? As said before he has treat club legends with contempt, never keeps promises that he has made and as you said £35 million is only good business if we replace Carroll with a player of similar or better ability otherwise team has become weaker. Also redman your an idiot you obviously have an axe to grind about Newcastle fans without knowing anything about them. Finally I think the best times for Ashley have come when Chris Mort was at the club communication with the fans was great and thats when Ashley was sitting in the stands with his toon shirt on.

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