Mike Ashley’s Tenure at Newcastle United

Given that Money Mike Ashley appears to be ending his tumultuous tenure at St. James's Park, I felt it would be fitting to write about the times Mike Ashley got it wrong, and ultimately showing how little he understood the club and the city.

No one argues that Mike Ashley the businessman has been successful, but what can be argued is that as owner of Newcastle United Football Club he has failed miserably. Not only has he failed the fans, but the players, the city, and the club it revolves around.

So here are the times I remember Mike Ashley failing…

Sacking Jonas Gutierrez

Say what you want about dodgy business deals and transfer dealings, but the treatment of another human being recovering from cancer is despicable. At the beginning of the 2014-2015 season Gutierrez was recovering from cancer treatment. It’s alleged that Pardew told him to find another club in December of that season.

At the end of that season the club decided to not renew the players contract, despite him scoring in Newcastle’s critical game against West Ham, which Newcastle won 2-0. The tribunal leading a disability discrimination lawsuit against Newcastle United voted in favour of the player.

The Treatment of Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan

Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer are two absolute legends of Newcastle United, and the way Mike Ashley misled them shows his complete lack of understanding.

Shearer, coming back as manager to try and save the club he loved from relegation, was told by Mike Ashley that appointing him was his best decision, and he would be the man to lead them out of the Championship after relegation. Yet when the season ended Shearer heard nothing from the club and the club it seems wanted nothing to do with him. The famous Shearer’s bar was renamed to Nine and the statue of Shearer that is outside the ground was placed there because Ashley didn’t want the statue to be on club property.

Likewise with Kevin Keegan, another club icon that was so badly treated he took the club to court and won. Leading up to that court case Mike Ashley appointed Dennis Wise and gave him authority over footballing decisions, which meant ultimately that Keegan played second-fiddle in deciding players to buy, and players being sold, as well as violating his contract agreement.

Keven Keegan has never returned to St. James’s Park.

Appointing Joe Kinnear

When Kevin Keegan left the club Mike Ashley brought in Joe Kinnear. Having been out of club football (of any note) since the nineties, Kinnear launched foul-mouthed tirades at reporters in which he used an obscenity at least 70 times. Kinnear would also forget the names of his players frequently using ‘Charlie Insomnia’ when referring to Charles N’Zogbia. Keeping in line with forgetting the names of his own players, Kinnear is infamously known for scouting a match and inquiring about Shane Ferguson, who was at the time a Newcastle United player out on loan.

Lack of Investment

The lack of investment in the club’s training facilities and youth academy is nothing short of embarassing. There was an image doing the rounds a year or so back (I’m sure you can all remember) which took place during pre-season where players took ice-baths in paddling pools as part of their recovery. Premier League footballers taking ice baths in blow up paddling pools.

Rafa Benitez has mentioned that when he first joined the club he was shown planned expansions to the clubs training facilities, however, after he left his job as Newcastle manager Rafa said the only thing that had changed in three years was a new coat of paint on the walls.

Lee Charnley

The lowest paid Managing Director of any club in the Premier League, Newcastle United have suffered two relegations under Lee Charnley and have striven for nothing but mediocrity. Finishing in 17th place was good enough for Mike Ashley, and anything more than that was seen as overachieving.

Sacking Chris Hughton

Tasked with returning Newcastle United to the Premier League at the first time of asking, Chris Hughton took over a squad of players that were having to ply their trade out of the limelight of the Premier League. Hughton took that squad and guided them back to the Premier League. The following season he was sacked despite the club sitting 11th in the Premier League.

A man of character and integrity, Hughton is well loved on Tyneside, and rightly so.

Notable Mentions

Mike Ashley took over Newcastle United Football Club in 2007. Since that time the club has been relegated twice and has gone from competing in Europe to playing in the Championship. The first relegation coming within just two years of his ownership.

The club have lurched from one blunder to another under Mike Ashley and it’s with the potential of new ownership and #cans at the ready that Newcastle fans can finally begin to dream about their football club again.