If you ever needed the proof that Mike Ashley is as good at business as I am at giving credit to Ipswich Town, then read on. Mr Ashley has so far spent 244 million smackers on troubled Newcastle United. Last summer he wanted 300 million for the club, a place where his face didn't belong and until recently he wasn't welcome. Desperate to get out, Ashley recently slapped a 100 million 'cut and run' tag above the door at St James Park. This week? Looks like he may be willing to accept just 60 million. Or to put it into perspective, one Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite. That's Kaka to you and me.
Ashley acquired Newcastle United two years ago, buying out unpopular supremo Freddie Shepherd and his cronies for 134 million. Since then, he has dug deep and splashed more than 100 million on players. Players who have collectively delivered relegation to the Coca Cola Championship, with woeful performances. Ashley became a hugely unpopular figure at the club after the departure of Kelvin Koogan (or Kevin Keegan, outside of UF headquarters). Koogan walked after internal politics involving the control of transfers made his job untenable.
To make Ashley's injury worse, the 60 million offer he may accept is coming from....You guessed it. Mr Freddie Shepherd. Shepherd wants to return and he is being backed by a consortium of businessmen.
Former supremo, Freddie Shepherd eyes a return.
Shepherd and co will certainly have their hands full. The club is a financial disaster, there are currently 15 players on 50,000 pounds a week or more, and the rest get a weekly pay packet that the average Colaship player could only dream of. Failure to gain promotion at the first time of asking will lead to a fire sale of the team as Newcastle balance the books for a second season outside of the top-flight. That's IF the new owners decide to go with what they have and hope the most expensive Colaship team EVER can get them back to the promised land at the first attempt.
Every team relegated from the Premiership is handed two years worth of payments from the top-flight. These 'parachute payments' are designed to help the club prepare for a stay in the fizzy league. In Newcastle's case, this years parachute payment and much, much more will disappear into the pockets of high earners such as Obafemi Martins, Nicky Butt, Xisco, Fabricio Coloccini and Jonas Gutierrez. Whats certain is, that not many teams are lining up to pay top dollar for a team of failures and a lot of Newcastle's players are on long contracts.
Anyone for Xisco? The 7 million quid (one parachute payment) signing has played just 5 times for Newcastle.
Maybe Newcastle can recover some cash with the sales of their new away shirt? Ouch!
If successful with his offer, Shepherd will also have to decide whether or not to hire Alan Shearer as manager. If you believe whats written in the press, Shearer wants 2 million a year to take the job. Personally, I think he is desperate to carry on running the club he loves and would take the position for a clean tracksuit and a bag of licorice all-sorts.
Currently, Newcastle are 6 weeks away from the start of the season, they have no manager and a bunch of players who may or may not be around when the Geordies take on West Brom for their opener. Many will want out. Fast.
There are a lot of changes set to hit the North East over the next month, whether or not the club can rebuild or stabilize in time for a promotion push is doubtful. A lot of the big time Charlie's at the club are sure to struggle in a league where every visit brings a 'Cup Final' mentality to the opponent, along with some tough tackles and in some cases, anti football, designed to frustrate the most talented, fancy dan Premier league player.
Good luck Newcastle. You will need it.