There but for the grace of Ashley…….

Ashley then and now
I was looking through my email today and came across a link about a new movie called Salmon Fishing In The Yemen.

It’s about a Yemeni Sheikh who wants to introduce fly fishing to his home country, a country where drinking from a river usually involves ingesting sand.

Not really as daft an idea as it sounds. Its amazing what you can do if you just have the money to throw at it.

In the UAE, until very recently the temperature never got above 49 degrees centigrade. This was because UAE labour law included a clause that said if it got above 49 degrees all outside work had to stop.

As you can no doubt imagine, stopping work on the latest multibillion pound project just because your scaffolders are fainting and emulating the trajectories of the famed Acapulco cliff divers, could be considered a tad inconvenient. So while all meteorological equipment for a hundred miles was heading well into the 50s, the official temperature never made it past 49.

In summer, outside the shopping malls, you have to stand under a palm tree for fifteen minutes waiting for the air conditioning in your car to cool the seats, otherwise you risk leaving your arse cheeks on the hot leather when you get out, but inside the Mall of the Emirates they have a ski centre with real snow falling, ski lifts and as many broken legs as you can throw a medic at.


We thought, a few years ago that Roman Abramovich was rich. He bought Chelsea, bought players, and bought the league title, but then Manchester City happened.

Football moved to a new level of rich.

While I would never even consider suggesting that City are “circumventing” the new regulations with regard to income and expenditure, it has to be more than a handy coincidence that two mega sponsorship deals have been negotiated with companies owned, run, managed or whatever by members of your own family.

OK, I’ve asked my brother for a few quid now and then, but I think this maybe goes a bit beyond that.

Some clubs are not so lucky.

We were shocked with the demise of Leeds not so long ago and Portsmouth also hammered home that there is no such thing as a club “too big to fail”, but Rangers going into administration was one of those WBM moments.


How the hell do a club like Rangers end up facing financial ruin?

It has been suggested that the recklessness of previous owners was responsible. Spending too much on transfer fees and salaries while not planning for the future.

Hang on a minute – does this sound at all familiar? Ring any bells?

Looking at the figures involved, last April Rangers insisted that their debts were only in the region of around 22 million Scottish Pound Euro Lire Sheep livers, or whatever the hell they use for currency up there these days.

Only £22 million? Pocket change, as they say, compared to what is currently owed by Newcastle United.

So apart from owing money to the wrong people (The Taxman?) what went wrong?

No doubt over the next few months the story will unfold, but maybe in the meantime the hardcore of Ashley Haters might want to reconsider their stance towards him and slacken off a little.

It’s no longer about a defender here or a forward there. It’s about continued existence.

I’ve always been of the opinion that I trust Ashley about as far as I could throw him, which appears to be a little further these days judging by his new slimline look, but I have also assumed that he got where he is by being an astute businessman.

Like Ashley, we trimmed our fat a bit, with Carroll, Nolan, Barton and a few others being taken off the payroll. Our debt was significantly reduced and the remainder has been shouldered by Ashley himself.

Add to that the current success of the team, and it looks like that light at the end of the tunnel might not be the 12:30 to Edinburgh after all.

By the way, WBM is Well Bugger Me. A suitable expression of surprise while reading the paper, though possibly not while at the local gym.

Looking at Rangers I cant help thinking “there but for the grace of Ashley…….”

189 thoughts on “There but for the grace of Ashley…….

  1. I applaud Ashley for getting the books in order. But i also agree with those that say he probably would have run the club like sheppard did if it wasn’t for relegation and the econimic downturn.

    But seriosuly, the previous regime left the club’s finances a shambles. Somebody would have had to eventually pay the piper…


  2. ” Make no mistake..We were going downwards under Shepherd and the inevitable would have happened under him simply because the club was pot less and in bad debt and the running could not be sustained with players on the wages they were on.”

    So Shepherd would have had to sell off some players and sort the finances out. Which is all Ashley did.
    If Shepherd failed to do that we MAY have ended up in trouble but there is no way of knowing that at all. For all we know he might have done it quicker and more efficiently than Ashley did!

    You like Ashley and you don’t like Shepherd. The rest of your argument is just supposition and guesswork to support your belief that Ashley is good and Shepherd is bad.


  3. Sir John hall and Shepherd were not stupid..they sold Ashley a dud, or what they thought was a dud..I hate them for that because they basically sold this club down the river like an unscrupulous car dealer selling a clapped out reliant robin with the mileage on the clock altered.
    They got their nice little earner and sat back laughing at Ashley.
    Ashley is having the last laugh though by proving how clever he really is.


  4. Bloody hell Stardust. A bit too cheery for this posting.
    Your not one of the grinning oaf brigade are you?


  5. BigDave
    Aye – apparently set the record for teh most consecutive unbeaten games in English soccer.
    Think Leeds would be a good move for him.


  6. @wolfie

    Have to disagre as it’s been pointed out that it was Ashley who sold off Milner, Zog and Given in the relegation season.

    Big mistake that compounded the situation. You can’t give credit for promotion if you don’t for relegation.

    I couldn’t see Shepherd selling those at that particular time.

    The facts are, only Man City are the only ones living similar to the way we were. No matter who was in charge they would have had to change.

    JJ was right in suggesting Ashley certainly got the scouting system right.
    However that was after being stung by Wise and his video compilation!


  7. POOTLE, @150, Shepherd had no money…Zilch to put into the club..he was potless and selling all the players at the club at that time wouldn’t have made him anything much.
    Shepherd had this club in unreal debt mate and that’s not supposition and hating him and loving Ashley, it’s about seeing what is happening now to what was certain to happen under Shepherd.

    No matter which way you look at it Pootle. there was no way in hell that Shepherd could have got this club out of the mire as it was too far gone cash wise for him to save, even with selling all the players.


  8. The debts were 111m when ashley bough the club, supposedly. They are still around that level but now they are interest free to Ashley rather then owed to a bank charging interest.


  9. Pootle
    We were screwed under Shepherd and Hall. Thats not supposition or guesswork. They have admitted that their business model was flawed and we were going under.
    I liked Hall and Shepherd, they were local heroes, but as is usually the case , we found out later that all was not as it seemed.

    Time to move on and see what Ashley can do.


  10. I actually have to agree with bobby- Ashley’s contribution to relegation was selling those players mid season. He took a big gamble and lost. He should have waited until the end of the season and then remade the squad entirely.


  11. @big Dave

    You must be fizzin watching the tv pictures of the St James Park signs being taken down.

    And for what? Nothing other than to complete the Spotrs Direct Warehouse. I can’t see any club being interested in buying the naming rights knowing that the majority of fans are against it.

    A poisoned chalice, me thinks. :-/


  12. Big Dave – I honesty believe we will sell the ground name to a big firm … particularly if we get Europe.
    SJP is being used during the Olympics and by then we will know if European footy will be played there next season. If it is then one of the companies involved in sponsoring the Olympics will take it on.
    The purpose of SDA is to allow fans to vent their hatred of the idea on Ashley rather than the new co. taking it on and also to showcase the ground to prospective investors, to kinda say imagine your company name where ours is.


  13. @wolfie

    They wanted out because the club were showing no ambition.

    Milner was sold against Keegans wishes. Don’t tell me Milner wanted to leave with KK as manager. ;-/


  14. Troy I hand on my heart can’t see anyone wanting to be involved in it and I don’t think that is Jabba’s intentions either. It tears me apart seeing it happen but what is even worse is that some of our own fans don’t really give a shit 👿


  15. LES KELLETS GRANDSON the thing with man city spending like we used to is they got a 400 million sponser for the next 10 years,so they haveing allready got round the new rules coming in 😕 BIG DAVE from various reports at the time just depending on which 1 ya read 😆


  16. Fans can piss and moan about the signs being taken down and replaced until the cows come home but it will always be St James’ park in every fans mind so I don’t see an issue to be honest.

    How many fans tell you that they are going to St James’ park to watch the game?
    How many fans tell you they are going to watch Newcastle at home?

    Ashley is dragging the club into the new era where advertising and such is king and Ashley is the king of the castle and is doing a fantastic job as far as I’m concerned.


  17. @Sharpy

    Do you really believe a company will put their name to it?

    I believe Richard Bransons reaction to the idea should give you the answer. :-/


  18. Sharpy17 the name sports direct arena will be beamed all around the world, why would Jabba let someone else have that privilege.
    When his sole reason for buying us was to globally market sports direct ❓ ❓
    would that make sense ❓


  19. @wolfie

    It won’t always be SJP.

    It’s not now and sports pundits are now referring to it as the Sports Direct Arena.

    It would soften the blow if Ashley put £10m into the club per season.

    Do you not find that a disgrace?


  20. LES, no I don’t find it a disgrace because he owns the club so he’s entitled to do as he pleases with signs and stuff if it helps his business, which is both Newcastle united and Sports direct.
    If he’s a success, then ultimately we become a success alongside so everyone’s a winner.

    Sometimes it takes harsh decisions to move forward and only the bravest take them against opposition.


    if you owned 2 bussiness and some1 demand you throw another 10 mil in to advertise ya other bussiness, would you not find that a disgrace.To be honest i cant see the nameing rights to the ground taken til we get into european football meself 😀


  22. @Wolfie

    You seem to be under the misconception that the profits of Sports Direct and The Toon are one and the same.

    They aren’t. If SD makes £10m profit, you won’t see that being spent on a player.

    He has his budget based solely on the Toons turnover not SD’s.

    Howay fella, you aren’t that blinkered are you?


  23. Big Dave,

    As a businessman that he is he knows that the sponsorship money is guaranteed.

    For argument sake let’s just say that selling the name for the next 3yrs generates £6m.
    He knows that keeping it as SDA will not raise the profile to such a level whereby SD would make a £6m profit


  24. anyone interested in understanding the difference between what Fat Freddy did and what Ashley did regarding the clubs finances should read this:

    There is no doubt in my mind that the club were a disaster waiting to happen while Fat Freddy was in charge. Compare how he mortgaged the club against future sponsorship deals, how much money he took out of the club, how he treated Bobby Robson the list is endless.

    Sure Ashley made some catastrophic mistakes at the start and some will be very hard to forgive but the bottom line is he has stabilised the club’s finances – put over £100 million+ (as an interest free loan) into the club to pay off fat Freddie’s debt mountain and put in a further £40+ million to keep the club afloat and try and get us back to the Premiership (OK he may be protecting his investment but nevertheless it is difficult to see how the club could have survived relegation and the financial crash had Freddy still been in charge – there was nowhere to go for more money and we would have been truly fecked just like Rangers/Portsmouth/Leeds IMO. Here is a quote from the article above:

    “More to the point, Ashley’s loans have been critical to the club’s survival, as it is far from clear that they would have managed to secure refinancing from the debt market. For example, Barclays Bank has insisted on securing its lending on assets and cash from transfer fees, while the last loan obtained by the previous regime under chairman Freddy Shepherd was at the prohibitively expensive interest rate of 11.72%.”……..
    there is no doubt that Mike Ashley has put his hand in his pocket to keep the club going. The unpalatable truth is that Newcastle United are heavily reliant on the support of their charmless owner. In the last two years, he has put in £111 million of new loans, initially to repay £70 million of expensive bank loans, but also providing £41 million of working capital on top of that (plus the £25.5 million subsequent to the books closing). Looking at the 2009 cash flow statement, his backing was required to help fund a £24 million loss from operating activities plus £17 million of net spend on new players, many of which were signed in previous periods, though most of the shortfall was financed by the increase in the overdraft.
    In contrast to Ashley, the former owners did very nicely out of their investment in Newcastle United, thank you very much. In fact, they absolutely coined it with the Halls (Sir John and Douglas) receiving a total of £95 million over the years, while the Shepherds (Freddy and Bruce) had to make do with £55 million. The Halls’ money comprised £55 million from the sale to Ashley, £20 million from previous share sales (to NTL and the club itself), £15 million from dividends and £5 million in salary payments, while the Shepherds’ money came from £38 million Ashley sale, £7 million dividends and £5 million salaries.
    And what was the result of these staggering payments? After years of rank bad management, they left the club in an appalling mess: a £30 million loss; £70 million of debt plus £27 million owing transfer fees; extremely limited borrowing capacity, as all assets and income streams had already been used to secure loans; and a bloated wage bill of aging mercenaries on generous long-term contracts.”

    As it stands Ashley will have already taken back about £40 million of his circa £150 million loans according to the last accounts so he is already getting his money back. Even if he trousered the whole of the £35 million Carroll money on top of that he would still be owed about £55 million. Compare that to what fat Freddy took out of the club above.

    I don’t like Ashley but there is no doubt he has turned the club’s finances round despite relegation – we sit 6th and 1 point off 4th place as we speak and have the nucleus of a very good team I very much doubt that the same would have been achieved under Freddy but of course there is no way of knowing. I know who I would rather have running the club though 🙂


  25. Sharpy I think SD are allready doing pretty well from they started using us as a giant advertisement hoarding.
    So what your saying is that our clubs history and tradition is worth a mere £2 mill a yr 😯


  26. Pittle “At the time Shepherd was just doing what most football clubs and most the country were doing. Embracing the buy now pay later culture promoted by banks and politicians worldwide.”

    For gods sake he was front loading income and spreading out payments to produce short term spikes in the accounts to allow the club to be financially raped into his own pocket via dividends and other payments.

    Pittle – you’ve just shown you had no understanding of what really happened.


  27. Wow Davey lad … they’re some words to be putting in my mouth!! … You trying to get me lynched on here or what?! 😈 😆

    Nope, that’s not what I’m saying at all. I used that sum for arguments sake as I didn’t want to use a largely unrealistic figure but even if I had have said £20m a season I still don’t believe that would be worth our history or tradition.

    I’m under the impression that Ashley can only use SD as a show case for so long though, then SD would have to become official sponsors and pay for the advertising rights, which of course would become alot more expensive for SD.


  28. Sharpy i’ll back you from the lynch mob 😉 😆
    “I still don’t believe that would be worth our history or tradition.” now I agree with you there lad 😉


  29. Sigh. Silly little Stardust. I’m talking about the buying policy of the players, not the various financial shennanigans for increasing his own take.
    You total cock.
    The financial fiddles to benefit his own ends are similar to what Ashley does with screwing the advertising rights to boost his other business.
    Run along now, silly, sad little troll.


  30. I’m not condoning what Fat Fred was doing at all. I have no doubt if things had continued the way they were things would have went tits up. That presupposes that nothing would have changed at all if Ashley had come in then. There are many things that could have changed and been done differently. Saying ‘we definitely would have went under if Shepherd had continued the way we were going’ is plainly ridiculous because we can’t definitely say that things would have continued the way they were. Allsorts of scenarios could have taken place if Shepherd had stayed on longer, including another buyer coming in at some point.

    Archie I haven’t read where SJH and Fat Fred said that the club would have definitely went under if they stayed in charge. Have you got a link or something?


  31. Pootle

    Sorry mate, no link – read it months ago.

    Remember Hall particularly was quite adamant that their way of doing business could not have continued for much longer without having serious consequences for the club.

    I’m sure its out there somewhere if you have the desire…..


  32. Yeah Archie but that’s ALL I’m saying.

    If things continued the way they were we would have been in real trouble.
    No one can know if things would have continued the way they were.
    There is absolutely no way of knowing at all.
    Wolfie will argue that Ashley was good because if Shepherd continued we would have went bust.
    You cannot use that as a valid means of argument.
    For all we know once the credit crunch got hold Shepherd could have taken any number of measures – some may have much improved the fortunes of the club, some may have ruined it. We cannot argue that either of those options were certain, because we can never know.

    I’m not arguing that Shepherd was better.


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