Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Price Just Not Right for Toon to Be Sold Off

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Price Just Not Right for Toon to Be Sold Off

Article excerpt

Byline: Lee RYDER

MIKE ASHLEY knows he is sitting on a profit-making machine in Newcastle United. That is why it is difficult to see him selling up on the cheap - or even at all - while the muchmaligned Magpies remain a Premier League club.

Newcastle United are still such an important part of his business empire, and why wouldn't they be with huge amounts of TV cash coming Ashley's way plus the platform of free advertising on the worldwide stage for Sports Direct. Talk of calling his debts in at Rangers sparked chatter among Newcastle supporters whether he might be thinking about doing the same at United. Yet unless there is a mystery oil-rich tycoon out there willing to plough his billions into the club, it is unlikely Ashley will be going anywhere anytime soon.

Of course, relegation to the Championship may well change his outlook on life at St James' Park because it would bring an end to the piles of TV cash set to come the club's way in the next few years.

Newcastle would still pick up parachute payments (which were PS60m for relegated clubs last year) if they went down.

However, that is a drop in the ocean compared to what Newcastle and Ashley could miss out on by being relegated. Some say dropping into the Championship would be a good thing for the Magpies as it could help move Ashley on.

Yet with no guarantee of bouncing back first time like Newcastle did in 2010, and bearing in mind the plight of clubs who rubbed shoulders with United not so long ago like Blackpool and Wigan, even in five years the football world is a different place on the financial scores.

If Newcastle were to stay up this season Ashley's operation on Tyneside would continue as it would take a mammoth offer to even get him to consider selling up. Nobody knows what the asking price is at Newcastle. People who suggest any journalist is in "the pocket" of Ashley are massively ill-informed. Ashley keeps his cards close to his chest and even staff at NUFC are left to second-guess what his next move might be.

Ashley has not even attended the last two home games but will be watching from afar and weighing up the price of survival and the cost of relegation. Yet the "price" of Newcastle will be whatever Ashley wants it to be and it would easily be beyond the reach of any local businessmen who would need a foreign investor to go in with them to snap the club.

Then there is the pipedream of the likes of Ant and Dec, Sting, Jimmy Nail or Cheryl Cole clubbing together to tempt Ashley into selling.

All highly unlikely and offers nothing but the prospect of turning Newcastle into an even bigger media circus.

In reality, Newcastle need money from the United States or the Middle East.

There have been investors from both in the last few years but they have opted for bigger names like Manchester United or Liverpool or have an interest in London clubs ahead of the North East. …

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