Saturday, April 20, 2019

There may be trouble ahead for Newcastle United

Persistent rumours that Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is looking to sell the club refuse to go away. Despite his massive investment and his obvious love for the Toon, he can’t shake off the apparent media desire to create instability in his regime at the club.

Whether there is instability, or it is all a media frenzy about nothing will become clear over the coming days and weeks, but it is absolutely certain that there will be a great deal of straight talking going on behind the scenes.

Yesterday it was reported that a New York private equity firm, InterMedia Partners had confirmed that it had been approached regarding a possible takeover of Newcastle United.

Reports earlier this week suggested that representatives of club owner Mike Ashley had met with counterparts from InterMedia Partners.

“InterMedia was approached about a deal, made no offer and has no interest,” a spokesman told the BBC.

That’s pretty clear then! I don’t understand why they would make the facts up. They say they were approached. Why would they say that if they weren’t? They say they have no interest in investing in the club. Of course, it is easier to understand why they would say that, whether they do or don’t.

Just last Friday, a Newcastle United spokesperson had dismissed the claims as “absolute nonsense”. Further statements will have be to released to try to clarify the situation for the Newcastle staff, players and fans who have all been treated poorly over the years by different owners and boards.

The reports do not make it clear exactly who, if anyone, made the approach to InterMedia, but they are absolutely clear on the fact that whoever it was, was representing Mr. Ashley.

Mike Ashley secured a £134.4 million takeover of Newcastle last summer and has since invested around £100 million more into the club to clear the debts he inherited and to bring players to the club.

Ashley, who is the owner of sports goods company Sports Direct International, also brought back popular manager Kevin Keegan to St James’ Park to replace Sam Allardyce. It was a bold and calculated move that looked to have backfired for a while but eventually turned out to be a successful appointment.

Kevin Keegan does not like instability and he has shown only too much willingness to walk away from clubs in the past if he isn’t happy. In order to keep him at the club, I hope that Mr. Ashley and others are keeping the manager fully informed of what is going on.

Until the situation is clarified it will be difficult for Keegan to bring players in and to persuade the likes of Michael Owen to stay.

The Chairman Chris Mort recently stepped down saying that it felt like the right time to move on. He had only been in post about one year.

The relationship between Keegan and Ashley is constantly under the microscope and whilst they try to present a united front, particularly Ashley, the gap between them is obvious to all.

Ashley was angry at the end of last season when Keegan made his statement about it being impossible for the club to break into the top four. Keegan retaliated with reference to the clubs attempts to keep Michael Owen and the amount of time he had with his owner. “Maybe the owner thinks we can bridge that gap to the top four but we can’t. Six weeks ago I told them to tie Michael up and it has not happened yet. Disappointing, but not the end of the world.”

He also said that he had a great relationship with Ashley, “because I never speak to him.”

The next few weeks could be very rocky at St James’ Park which is the last thing they need as they try to build on what was a very promising end to last season. If Mike Ashley is trying to sell and hasn’t kept Keegan in the loop, I can only see trouble ahead.

King Kev famously recently said, “The players all went home with different agendas. But they’ll come back with a spirit and togetherness that we’ve got at the club now”

He also said, when asked about Mr. Ashley’s ambition, “That will become clear when we see the players this club will go after in the summer.”

Those statements seems to show that he maybe isn’t aware of what is going on. If that is the case, he will not put up with it for very long.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Graham Fisher


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