Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Fans' Fury at Bombshell; OWNER TAKES UNITED OFF THE MARKET AND LOOKS: SET TO AUCTION OFF THE NAMING RIGHTS FOR ST JAMES'S PARK

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Fans' Fury at Bombshell; OWNER TAKES UNITED OFF THE MARKET AND LOOKS: SET TO AUCTION OFF THE NAMING RIGHTS FOR ST JAMES'S PARK

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM JUPP

TOON fans today gave their reaction to Mike Ashley's bombshell announcement.

Ashley took United off the market after failing for the second time to find a buyer for the club.

He also announced plans to sell the naming rights for St James's Park, which has been met with anger from stunned supporters.

A club statement said talks with Toon-supporting businessman Barry Moat had collapsed after he failed to meet the pounds 80m asking price.

Ashley said he will personally put a further pounds 20m into the club's coffers this week as part of plans to ensure the Toon secure promotion.

The statement confirmed Chris Hughton as manager and adds: "The club aims to maximise its commercial revenues through a club sponsor kit deal and stadium naming rights.

Neil Mitchell, interim chairman of the Newcastle United Supporters; Trust (NUST), said: "It has come full circle now -Mr Ashley waits until after deadline day to release pounds 20m to service the ghostship that is St James's Park and comes up with the wheeze to rename the most famous landmark in the city. It demonstrates clearly that Mike Ashley has forgotten his customers, described the fans in disparaging terms and now wants to re-brand the stadium.

"The appointment of Chris Hughton clearly shows that Ashley will continue to call the wrong shots at the club. Hughton is maybe a capable coach but we still await a manager with a proven record. The appointment leaves many questions unanswered especially on the subject of transfers."

Steve Wraith, editor of Players Inc fanzine, said: "Mike Ashley has taken the club off the market but I don't think it was ever really on the market. I don't think this latest announcement will come as any surprise to any Newcastle fans. But we have just got to get on with it now -Mike Ashley's in charge of the club and we have just got to do all we can to live in harmony together. …

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