Martin Samuel of The Daily Mail has been again talking about Newcastle United and Mike Ashley, and again misses the point entirely.
It’s no secret Samuel and Ashley are mates, and Samuel had the media world fawning at his exclusive “interview” with Ashley in the fall out of Rafa Benitez leaving.
It was nothing short of pathetic, as Ashley said what he wanted while omitting details that showed him in a bad light and not being asked any searching questions. In short, it was statement not an interview.
Now Samuel is talking about Jeremy Corbyn, and his criticism of Mike Ashley’s ownership, which in turn prompted a statement from ‘the club’.
Of course Samuel is defending Ashley and criticising Corbyn. I mean, what to you expect when a left wing leader criticises the mate of the chief sports writer of the countries biggest right wing paper.
Here’s Samuel’s comments:
“He’ll meet a pressure group called Ashley Out and then have a pop at Mike Ashley. Not exactly taking chances, is he? And he’s hardly smart enough to get that right. Corbyn’s attack on Ashley showed only the shallowest intellect or economic understanding.
“He targeted the Newcastle owner’s point of greatest strength, his sole trump card. It would be like ignoring Brexit and meeting Boris Johnson on the battleground of classical philosophy. After the usual entry-level cliches about football and community that could have been sketched on the back of a fag packet by the lowest-grade policy wonk, Corbyn accused Ashley of putting Newcastle’s financial security at risk. Actually, that’s the one thing he hasn’t done. Marginalised the fans, yes. Placed business interests first, certainly. Yet Newcastle are financially stable under Ashley’s stewardship.
“He runs a tight ship. It had been going so well, too. Corbyn had singled out Ashley as a bad owner before an appreciative audience. So far, so tame. But when it became necessary to know something of his subject, to have bothered with detail beyond populist banalities, his argument fell apart.
“Far from risking Newcastle’s financial security, the club under Ashley has made a profit before tax in seven of the last eight financial years. In 2017-18 total staff costs as a percentage of turnover were 52 per cent when the Premier League average is 60 per cent.
“At the end of 2017-18 Newcastle had net assets of £8.3m and a £34m surplus in the bank. Non-interest bearing loans owed to Ashley totalled £144m, mostly dating from the beginning of his ownership. Although £33m was repaid in 2018-19 — making £111m the current balance — those loans mean Newcastle have rarely relied on external interest bearing debt, due to Ashley’s cashflow.
“In other words, he might be unpopular, he might have Sports Direct branding everywhere, he might have lost good players and better managers, but Newcastle are financially secure.
“Labour’s problem has always been convincing the public the budget is safe in their hands and by failing to understand simple facts — such as wage-to-turnover ratio being a key financial health indicator in the assessment of football clubs — Corbyn came across as something of an economic ignoramus. It’s probably why he isn’t where Klopp is now”.
I’m not going to into why Ashley is a bad owner here on behalf of Martin Samuel, nor get into the politics here, which are clearly present, but if Martin Samuel is so keen on facts and figures concerning Mike Ashley then he should perhaps take a gander at these:
I’d personally argue that Samuel constantly defending the business acumen of a man, who constantly keeps a football club in a permanent fight for premier league survival, signs inexperienced players, appoints inept coaches (save Rafa), which in turn leaves himself having to constantly loan the club money to cover his ownership mistakes, is Samuel being an economic ignoramus, but what do I know?