It has always been easy to think negatively of Mike Ashley. Sometimes, he makes it so. Other times, perceptions are manipulated — particularly those held by Newcastle fans.
Take the collapse of Amanda Staveley and PCP Capital Partners takeover deal. The script is Ashley standing in the way of progress. The reality: where’s the money?
Ashley is a villain on Tyneside and, no doubt about it, he has made mistakes throughout his time there. Maybe, most recently, he regrets allowing Staveley to be photographed so ostentatiously attending St James’ Park before the details of her proposal became known.
She is, at best, £50million short of the asking price and probably more. Yet in the time that elapsed between her first appearance and the breakdown of talks, she has been painted as something of a saviour. Her deal, along with the presence of Rafael Benitez as manager, will lead Newcastle to unimagined heights. But again: where’s the money?
When Sheikh Mansour bought Manchester City, when Roman Abramovich acquired Chelsea, it was quick. Not behind the scenes, no doubt, but between breaking ground and shaking hands was a metaphorical blink of an eye. That’s money.
The takeovers that drag on, that are everywhere, that appear in the press before reaching the negotiating table, where the buying party appears to need the support of popular opinion to force a sale, they are the ones that are rarely what they seem.
This appears to be one of those deals. Stories of Staveley’s interest broke in October. Mid-January we would appear no further advanced. That isn’t simply due diligence. That is torpor of a kind that should trigger alarms.
We have Rafael Benitez and this opportunity to restore the club to its former glory with the best manager we could possibly get,’ said campaign group Ashley Out, after it was announced the deal was dead. ‘It cannot be allowed to fade away.’
But what cannot fade? What is there, for Newcastle, exactly? The money that is supposedly promised for transfers? Where is it? The Reuben family that are supposedly part of the consortium? Who says?
Not them. An official spokesman for Simon Reuben — with brother David, top of the Sunday Times Rich List in 2016 — was ‘pretty emphatic’ that the family were not investing, having looked at Newcastle. So where does that leave Staveley now? Indeed, where has her takeover been all along?
Some will protest but what is there for Newcastle? Money promised for transfers, where is it?
Ashley bought the club in 2007 for £134m. He is believed to have then spent close to that again on other club projects and responsibilities — not including players. So £250m doesn’t really even get his money back. And that figure is what Staveley is believed to have offered. This could be why when Ashley walked away this week, he as good as called her a time-waster.
Whatever his faults, it is not for Ashley to sell Newcastle cut-price to allow the realisation of some specious dream. It might be your dream to live in a mansion but you still need the money to buy it. Ashley’s price is set at £350m. Staveley is £100m short, unless she can try to knock him down to £300m, and it would appear one of her main backers has pulled out. If the bid is already stretched at entry level, why would this be such a good deal for Newcastle?
Indeed, why would an investment group be appealing owners at all? They don’t invest for altruistic reasons but to make a profit. They are little different therefore, in essence, to Ashley. Staveley and PCP Capital would still be more interested in what came out, rather than what went in, for all the fanciful talk of transfer spending.
Indeed, Newcastle fans might find the new boss not too dissimilar to the old boss at all. They are not strangers to the Ashley model, most investors.
This thread below, for me, sums up Samuel’s piece and first paragraph perfectly:
— ????????? ??⚽ (@HanoiToon) January 19, 2018
Let us know your take on this folks. Is Staveley as unconvincing as Samuel paints her out to be, or is it Ashley that IS still the villain in all of this?
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