Newcastle United have defended owner Mike Ashley in the wake of criticism from UK politician Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour leader Corbyn singled out Ashley as one of many “bad owners” who “put their business interests ahead of everything else, marginalise supporters and even put the financial security of clubs at risk”.
Corbyn was speaking to Labour supporters to outline his party’s commitment to banning zero-hour contracts and introducing a higher National Living Wage for staff at all Premier League clubs.
Ashley has long been unpopular with Newcastle fans but, despite reports of interest from several prospective buyers in recent years, the club remains under his ownership.
However, a statement released by Newcastle on Tuesday criticised Corbyn for voicing “damaging and misinformed opinions” about Ashley and his running of affairs at St James’ Park.
“Matty Longstaff… hit it! HE SCORES!”
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) October 8, 2019
“In overlooking existing governance and regulation, as well as the hugely positive impact Newcastle United and other professional clubs have in their communities, Mr Corbyn has demonstrated a surprising lack of knowledge about our national game,” the club said.
“Financially, other than sums provided to the club on a short-term, interest-free basis and repaid to him as intended, we would like to make it clear that Mike Ashley has not taken a penny out of Newcastle United in interest, salary or dividend, as is customary at many clubs.
“As stated on numerous occasions before, every penny Newcastle United has will continue to be available to it. In this financial year, the club will use an overdraft facility to manage its cashflow following a significant spend on talent in the summer. As a well-run, responsible club, that amount will be repaid in full and on time and our other regulatory obligations will be met.
“We will not apologise for being financially sustainable, but we will push the boundaries of our budgets as far as possible to maximise the impact on the team.
“We agree with Mr Corbyn that ‘a football club is more than just a club; it is an institution at the heart of our communities’.
“That is why our vast work across the local community will continue, with Newcastle United Foundation providing services and support to tens of thousands of people in our region each year who truly need them.
“Often, Newcastle United Foundation’s projects fill in significant gaps that the public sector sadly cannot stretch to, particularly at a time when government cuts are so prevalent.
“We would like to invite Mr Corbyn to visit one of these initiatives to experience at first hand the incredible work that is being undertaken by the Foundation in our local community every day.”
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