Ten years into his ownership of Newcastle United, Mike Ashley has decided he has finally, finally had enough.
The club is officially up for sale, from the owner who, in 2016, made the claim that he “regrets” the purchase in the first place.
Meanwhile, over the summer, he admitted that manager Rafa Benitez had little to no money to spend. Indeed, Newcastle’s net transfer spend was a paltry £11.5 million, way behind other promoted, less-followed teams like Huddersfield Town (who spent £32.5 million) and Brighton & Hove Albion (£42.8 million).
The rumour are that Ashley is looking for somewhere between £300-£400 million to sell the club, despite Southampton, another well run club, which hasn’t been relegated in the last number of seasons, was sold for £210 million to Chinese investors. In reality however, the club has been up for sale for a much longer period of time, even as far back as 2013.
How different it all seemed when Ashley took over the club in 2007.
2007 – Ashley Takes Over
Ashley bought out long-time owner of Newcastle, Freddie Shepherd for £134.4 million.
Yet within two months, there was rumours that Ashley would be selling the club to an Icelandic buyer. By 2008, InterMedia were rumoured to be buying Ashley out, and in 2009 a local buyout was near, or an Omani buyout if media reports were to be believed.
Over £250 million later, spent on the squad, Ashley has been the overseer of Newcastle’s first, and second, relegation from the English Premier League. There have been huge moments of contention, including changing St James’ Park to the Sports Direct Arena, introducing the largest family enclosure in the country, frozen season tickets for ten years and, appointing Joe Kinnear as head manager, who then proceeded to have one of the meltdowns of the ages.
It has not all been bad, including appointing icons like Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer as managers.
Yet negativity persists. Ashley changed the name of Shearer’s Bar, named in his honour, out of spite because the former Newcastle captain had become a vocal media critic of his.
Such an episode sums up his time at the club.
Newcastle, while a very well run, financially viable club, has become a soap opera. Despite the healthy bank balance, fans have long since turned on Ashley and it is only a matter of time until the club is sold.