Monday, 20 April 2015

Mike Ashley, boycotts, Newcastle & Rangers

Yesterday afternoon saw a very strange phenomenon at the normally-packed St James’ Park; thousands of empty seats.

Indeed, the visit of Tottenham had been hyped more about the impending boycott of the match as a protest against owner Mike Ashley than the game itself, and Geordies did not back down from their word as anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 of them voted with their feet and did not attend.

Now, obviously the links to Rangers are stark; Ashley also owns a major stake in our Club, and Rangers fans also boycotted at length this season as a protest against him and the board he had essentially appointed.

The one difference between the two cases are Newcastle are firmly in the black, with no financial peril hanging over them, while Rangers were hanging over the precipice. Technically they still are.

Regardless though, this boycott on Tyneside was the first time the world has ever seen just how much Geordies despise Ashley, and how badly they want him out of their club.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher put it rather appositely:

“He’s balanced the books, he’s made money because he’s a businessman and that’s what he wants to do. These people come in and they want to make money, we know that, but don’t you want to be excited yourself? Is he not bored watching Newcastle? I’m getting bored by it. Now it’s boring. Why does Mike Ashley want the club if nothing’s going to happen? He’s not interested in a cup run. I just don’t get it – I don’t understand why he wants to own a football club.”

Two mitigating factors:

Ashley wants Sports Direct to thrive. Both St James’ and Ibrox have Sports Direct branding strewn all over the place. In Newcastle’s case the global exposure the EPL gets allows maximum airtime to his company logos, and he wants to use Old Firm matches and future CL exposure to achieve the same with Rangers.

The second is technically Newcastle have been on the market for 3+ years. Ashley just cannot sell them, and that £140M debt is a major reason. They are in the black, yes, but that previous debt was merely shifted from Newcastle’s holding company to MASH and Ashley instead loaned them his own cash. Interest free. So they still have debt, just not on their own accounts. Soon as he sells, they are riddled with debt again.

But Carragher makes a fair point; Ashley may have invested a few quid in Newcastle (his transfer payments are roughly £250M since he took over in 2007) but he has never put in sustained interest to a Club that, truthfully speaking, has the gravity, size, and supporter base to be a top 7+ team. That it languishes in 14th sums up the mediocrity it has become.

Rangers fans boycotted Ibrox over Ashley and his board – they did not want Rangers to become Newcastle. Regarding boycotts, Carragher added:

“Some people may say you’re not helping the situation [by boycotting] – I can understand that argument – but it’s getting to the stage now where football is so big. There’s that much money coming into the game with the new TV deal, and I’m sick of owners coming in, who are successful businesspeople wherever they’ve been, and they think ‘where else can I make money, oh I’ll buy a football club'. I had it at Liverpool with George Gillette, Tom Hicks, and I think it’s the same at Newcastle. It’s the same further down – look at Blackpool, owners taking money out of a club. People will tell the supporters they’ve got to come back, support the club, they’re not helping. But what are the owners doing for the supporters?"

Were the fans right to boycott (both Newcastle and Rangers)? I did not personally support boycotts, and ultimately what forced regime change at Ibrox was King buying 15.5% from Laxey and forcing the EGM, but ultimately it led to grand financial losses, losses in Rangers’ case we cannot afford, but which in Newcastle’s they most certainly can.

But Carragher does make a very valid point here; you can whine about supporters ‘not helping the club’ by boycotting, but owners and boards are equally responsible for giving to the ‘customer’, to the supporter. Supporters have to believe the regime appreciates them, and clearly Newcastle fans do not have that privilege.

Ashley uses football clubs to promote Sports Direct, and to make money. His methods are incredibly ruthless, and borderline illegal, and he does not care about abusing those clubs – as long as Sports Direct thrives (which it is).

Unfortunately getting him out of Ibrox (and Tyneside) is far from easy.


  1. dont give him a penny, hes just out to use the fans to fill up his piggy bank, the sooner he gos from both clubs the better.

  2. its the dirty way him and his palls deal with people that fans at rangers just dont like,one lie after another from them, i dont think he or his palls should be near any football club.

  3. When you get a loan from a bank it not investment, Ashley does not give a toss about Rangers.

    S direct won't get near champions league unless they a sponsor of Chanpions League.

    If NUFC is sold it will continue to feed Cashleys pockets.

    He ain't interested in the fans so long as he can continue to milk each club.

  4. The only way to hurt big mike Ashley is in the pocket NOT by boycotting games but to stop buying his shit sports gear every sports fan in the UK to come together and boycott his shops sure it's Rangers and Newcastle today but who will it be tomorrow ? We all love our football and this greedy clown is killing our clubs let's all starv the fat bastard and show him WATP

  5. As I have said befor on this website he is fat rich bastard with no interest what so ever in football,it would be great if he just fuck off putting it mildly or drop dead.

  6. British fans can damage and dissuade the likes of Ashley, but only if they organise themselves through national supporters associations. He is a retailer and lives for profit. Consumer power is the answer, but only if organised on a national basis. Its time that the lifeblood of the game, the fans, organised themselves to combat infiltrators such as Ashley. The structure to enable such a campaign (supporters associations) and means of communication (social media) is in place. Unfortunately, Ashley will probably be allowed to continue plundering our game. He relies on our apathy and up until now he has been proved right. Over to you Newcastle fans, can you mobilise a football loving nation. You can rely on the support of many thousands of Rangers fans.

    1. Start here. Circulate this (tat) - Sports Direct, Donnay. Dunlop Slazenger, manufacturer Karrimor, Kangol, Lonsdale, Umbro.
      Blacks Leisure Group, the owner of Millets and Mambo. Republic, USC.
      Can you confirm add to list?

  7. ashley is scum. i personally feel good by helping others. ashley and his arse licking friends should all be put on an island called scumbag island where they can all count there money and go to hell

  8. I think Mike Ashley should sell Newcastle,, then invest solely in Rangers, ONLY, if an agreement could be made by our board which would benefit the club greatly. The guy is a businessman with billions in the bank. I wouldnt go round burning bridges just yet,, Rangers is the perfect asset for Ashley to get SD into the champions league,, I think the board and Ashley should get round the table and discuss it. But unfortunately, Ashley has refused talks thus far,, but I'm sure something will come up. In Ashleys defence, he has not said a bad word against our team. He has given us Vuckic, and it looks Ferguson might get a game,, he has over 9% stake in the club,, so lets get talking Mr Ashley,,,

    1. no thanks,,get the fat man and friends taa fuck away from our club,,

    2. yeh right Liam. Have to do better than that. You could chat to your pals about next years treble.

  9. Above forgot mention the 500k deal for the 5 loanees if we get promoted not back if you can get it. I just wonder who pays the 5 loanees wage bill, is rangers? if nothing you could argue fair enough if the loanees have helped which only one has.

  10. My friend the problem is you can talk to him all you want but he won't listen BIG mike has the power to put us out of business unless we stop him NOW

  11. Ashley did want to buy a controlling share in Rangers but the SFA wouldn't allow him to lift his shareholding, so the Hedge fund sold to King instead.

    Ashley has a lot of wonga sitting where ever he stashes it, Dave King and the Three Bears don't. MASH board nominees where instituting a cost reduction process to actually stop TRFC from being a loss making business and make it less likely for the club to go into administration or becoming bust again!

    While King advocates fans once again pouring cash into a money losing that has made Green, McCoist and many others very rich. In fact you are paying out nearly 300grand a month out for fees relating to Ibrox.

    The King boycotts and the undermining of the share price by complaints against the NOMAD and AIM caused you to be a toxic brand.

    So just where this leaves Rangers and the fans, is a mystery!


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