The statement responds to comments made by the Labour Leader at a speech at Newcastle City Hall on Saturday, with him sparking a war of words after criticising “billionaire football club owners like Mike Ashley” – claiming fans should have control instead of “bad owners who put their business interests ahead of everything else“.
Last night there was a response from NUFC, which condemned Corbyn’s remarks and defended Mike Ashley’s actions as owner, claiming the Labour Leader had displayed a ‘surprising lack of knowledge’ on the subject.
See some of the key points mentioned in the statement below, followed by the club’s response in full:
- Mike Ashley ‘has not taken a penny out of Newcastle United in interest, salary or dividend’.
- ‘Mr Corbyn has a surprising lack of knowledge about our national game.
- ‘Every penny Newcastle United has will continue to be available’, something that owner Ashley has previously told fans in the past.
- Corbyn is invited to see the good work being done by the Newcastle United Foundation.
Newcastle United statement in full:
“We are disappointed by comments made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at the weekend regarding football governance and club ownership, in which he specifically attacked Newcastle United.
“Amongst his comments, Mr Corbyn accused ‘billionaire owners like Mike Ashley’ of ‘ruining our national game’, claiming these ‘bad owners’ put their ‘business interests above everything else’ and risk their clubs’ financial security.
“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.
“We feel, therefore, it is important to address his damaging and misinformed opinions in the interests of the club and its supporters.
“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.”
Speaking on Saturday, the Labour leader launched a scathing attack aimed at Ashley, promising that a Labour Government would ‘review’ the current footballing system to ensure that ‘sport be run for those who follow it, those who love it, not for a wealthy few.’
In response to the club’s statement, Corbyn then came back with this tweet last night – giving a sarcastic thank you after quoting his comments:
This is not the first time Ashley has come under fire from a Labour politician, as Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah famously led a campaign for Parliament to attempt to remove Ashley as the owner of Newcastle United back in 2018.
This certainly seems like a bizarre feud to be escalating in such unpredictable times both politically and at NUFC, and it wouldn’t be surprising if this were not the end of the war of words between both Corbyn and the club.
Let us know what you think.