Cockney Boy Done Good - The Mike Ashley Story

 

The ownership of Newcastle United by Mike Ashley is tantamount to an enigma. It's a mystery, a test filled with highs and lows veering between the two at hurtling speed. In this black and white era of a football where everyone is either hero or villain, it’s almost impossible to make a fair judgement. Unlike the Magpies themselves, this one is knee deep in shades of grey.

 

The latest report is that a group of Newcastle fans staged a protest during a reserve Tyne-Wear derby over the naming of St James Park. Signs bearing the new name, Sports Direct Arena were torn down, the walls were emblazoned with graffiti and a coffin was brought in. I'm certain some of that is hyperbole (a coffin?!) but even so the fact that a protest was held at all raises major questions.

If there was a coffin involved, what exactly was it supposed to represent? The death of the club? Newcastle are actually sitting pretty in fifth place, perfectly poised to make a shot at Champions League football in the run in. They won't get it but they will get a nice run out in the newly revitalised Europa League next season.

Or was the coffin a threat to Ashley himself? It all just seems a bit much for a man who has turned the club around not by making the decisions the fans called for but going the much more difficult route of making unpopular, but in hindsight, inspired choices.

                                                    Pictured: Not hyperbole.

Without giving a brief history of Newcastle United, the most notable recent flashpoints would be firing Chris Hughton. A great guy, a decent manager and a loyal servant of the club and replacing him with another Cockney yes man. Only it turns out that Pardew might not be a bad manager after all. He's went from almost Bond like villain to prospective England manager in just over a year and few Newcastle fans would ask him to leave now.

Last January, Ashley took the outrageous decision to sell Number 9, big Andy Carroll pocketing only 35 million for him. Since then he's been replaced with new cult heroes Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse. Following on from the decision to replace Nolan and Barton with Cabaye and Tiote, Mike Ashley is suddenly looking like a transfer guru.

And now we have the battle over St. James Park. It's a classic case of a rose by any other name. The ground will always be St. James Park. The bricks and mortar haven't changed. The memories that fill the stadium haven't died. Yes the media will now have to refer to it by its actual name but there's no such mandate for fans. You can call it what you want, it'll always be St. James' Park. 

 

And what does it do for the club? In a time where purse strings should be tightened and balance sheets, well, balanced, this re-naming offers Newcastle a chance to bring in extra funds, some of which may go towards buying a new French wonder in midfield or another cult hero up front. The rest will go to ensure the club gets to stay afloat, paying its wages and staying profitable. Not a bad businessman this Mike Ashley.   

 

In a league where every second club is having a protest to get their owners out, it becomes a question of who the hell would want to own a football club. The fans want money in. Money lost? More money in. But refuse to acknowledge that cash has to come from somewhere. Mike Ashley has had a lot of lows with the club but he seems to be on the up and up now and he can take a lot of credit for that. If he can keep it going it won't be long before he's an adopted Geordie again.

Because the Geordie fans are a breed unto themselves, and the top league is all the better for having them. But this protest screams short sighted. The good times are rolling and they might not last forever so enjoy it while you can and leave your coffins at home. I mean if you’re going to protest, can't it be about the more pressing issue of getting those fat fans to keep their tops on? Come on guys, priorities.

 

 

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I was going to put a photo of said topless fans but I just couldn't do it, so instead enjoy the classic video of Mike Ashley downing a pint:

 

 

Or even better....

 

 

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Comment by David O'Loughlin on March 10, 2012 at 17:44

Its hard to say really, which side did the bandwagon fall on AVB's sacking?

Comment by John Thomas on March 10, 2012 at 17:11

Is there a bandwagon you won't jump on David?

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