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Is Mike Ashley the Geordie Abramovich we've been waiting for?

By Lee Ryder on May 23, 07 05:20 PM

Not long after 2pm today the black and white world was significantly shaken by news that another new era was about to dawn at St James' Park.

Sir John Hall and his son Douglas sold their shares in the club to sports tycoon Mike Ashley, the 25th richest guy in the country according to the Sunday Times, meaning he now owns just less than 42% of Newcastle United FC.

He said today: "I am delighted to have this opportunity to invest in Newcastle United.

"The club has a fantastic infrastructure, for which Sir John and the board must take much of the credit.

"I am pleased that Sir John has agreed to remain as Life President of the club.

"Newcastle United has a wonderful heritage and the passion of its fans is legendary. I am sure that, like me, they are already excited about the prospects for next season under the new manager's stewardship."

It all means a A £133m takeover of Newcastle United which has now kicked off.

And if that means investment on the pitch, it should be time to be popping the champagne corks shouldn't it?

The Halls leave behind a legacy of a stable football club that was on its last legs back in 1992 when it was almost relegated to the old Third Division and went out of business.

Anyone that was there before Sir John Hall came in will know what a crumbling dust bowl St James' Park was and how United tried to win back their place in the top flight with players like Scott Sloan, Billy Askew and Mark Stimson on their books.

In short - it was like going to war with a pop gun!

United then turned to a team largely made up of home grown talent such as Lee Clark, Alan Thompson and Robbie Elliott and older stagers like Micky Quinn and Gavin Peacock, it still wasn't enough.

Ossie Ardiles almost took United down.

In came Kevin Keegan and suddenly the backing was there.

From the bottom of Division Two to the top of the Premiership in four short years, it was the journey of a lifetime.

But things soon turned sour and when Sir John took a backseat, the club also took a nosedive and went from second in 1997 to 13th a year later.

True United were still a big club but they were never five minutes away from a crisis and after 10 years of huff and puff, with just the Sir Bobby Robson era to really enjoy after Keegan.

It was back to reality.

Graeme Souness, who struggled, and the Glenn Roeder, who couldn't lift Newcastle any higher than seventh in his first season and then 13th again in his second, failed to raise the roof.

Now with Sam Allardyce installed again, the hope that millions will be injected into the team leave us dreaming again of the big time.

But is now the time to get too excited?

Will we go down the path of Chelsea? Or will it be the same as Aston Villa or West Ham, who struggled to stay up despite big invest already?

If Mike Ashley is the Geordie Abramovich, welcome aboard.

38 Comments

ZORRO said:

HELLO LEE M8 HOWS IT GOING?..THIS IS WHAT WEVE BEEN WAITING FOR ..NEW MANAGER...NEW PLAYERS...NEW OWNERSHIP...LIKE THEY SAY..."LETS START A NEW"...FINGERS CROSSED IT ALL GOES WELL....UP OR DOON ILL STAND BY THE TOON 4 LIFE.

Mr Michael Wears said:

Hurrah, theve sold out at last. To you Douglas, good riddence.

oxboy said:

Time for Fred to fall on his sword.

Will his stubborn pride and ignorance be overwhelmed by his greed? Let's hope so.

Forget new managers this is where we need the change if we are ever to succeed.

keef said:

i have been toon supporter all my life and comments made about the halls and freddy making bad decisons but lets not forget that they prevented us from being another leeds and disapearing down the leagues some thanks has to be given to them for that they built the foundations that this gret club now stands on... with this new take over i am very excited but also very worried could we turn in to another chelski where the players just come for the big salary and not the fans ??

is it a case of better the devil u know

keef said:

i have been toon supporter all my life and comments made about the halls and freddy making bad decisons but lets not forget that they prevented us from being another leeds and disapearing down the leagues some thanks has to be given to them for that they built the foundations that this gret club now stands on... with this new take over i am very excited but also very worried could we turn in to another chelski where the players just come for the big salary and not the fans ??

is it a case of better the devil u know

David Westerby said:

Hallelujah. This new bloke sounds like a winner. He started with one shop and built up the biggest sports retailing business in the country, he reported all the other retailers to the Office Of Fair Trading for price fixing football tops and he carries his laptop in a plastic bag...sounds like my type of bloke. He should have been a Geordie! Soon we will have real winner in charge of the club!

jackie w said:

In two minds over this one . on the one side you have to give fred and the halls respect as i for one remember only to well the george reillys and billy whithursts of the past and when we climbed on to the Kevin Keegan roller coaster things were never to be the same again.The problem was the Halls took us to a level we had been dreaming of since probably the fifties but then they hit the wall and we became an average premier league side (still a million miles away from where we started)They and fred seemed to run out of ideas (fred tried but had no luck)and we became stale , yet appointing Alladice seemed to be the shrewdest move made since KK, so this season was going to be interesting and probably freds chance to earn back a bit respect.
Now we are led to believe a recluse who avoids being in the public eye is going to out Shepherd and take the reins. In the gold fish bowl which is Newcastle you become public property and every southern hack will be looking for dirt.Are we to believe this man is going to be our salvation and lead us to the promised land ? I sincerely hope so but it does seem a bit strange.Abramovich he is not but he can still buy and sell Shepherd so lets hope some of the profits he rakes in from selling absolute crap will be thrown at the team.And all the single mothers from the west end will be contributing to the club every time they buy there new Kappa tracksuits. If the big guy does get the push and leaves with his millions I would like to say Thanks Fred not only for the comedy moments and Gaffs but for leaving the club on the blocks ready for our new dawn.Cheers Big Man...Jackie

jackie w said:

In two minds over this one . on the one side you have to give fred and the halls respect as i for one remember only to well the george reillys and billy whithursts of the past and when we climbed on to the Kevin Keegan roller coaster things were never to be the same again.The problem was the Halls took us to a level we had been dreaming of since probably the fifties but then they hit the wall and we became an average premier league side (still a million miles away from where we started)They and fred seemed to run out of ideas (fred tried but had no luck)and we became stale , yet appointing Alladice seemed to be the shrewdest move made since KK, so this season was going to be interesting and probably freds chance to earn back a bit respect.
Now we are led to believe a recluse who avoids being in the public eye is going to out Shepherd and take the reins. In the gold fish bowl which is Newcastle you become public property and every southern hack will be looking for dirt.Are we to believe this man is going to be our salvation and lead us to the promised land ? I sincerely hope so but it does seem a bit strange.Abramovich he is not but he can still buy and sell Shepherd so lets hope some of the profits he rakes in from selling absolute crap will be thrown at the team.And all the single mothers from the west end will be contributing to the club every time they buy there new Kappa tracksuits. If the big guy does get the push and leaves with his millions I would like to say Thanks Fred not only for the comedy moments and Gaffs but for leaving the club on the blocks ready for our new dawn.Cheers Big Man...Jackie

jackie w said:

In two minds over this one . on the one side you have to give fred and the halls respect as i for one remember only to well the george reillys and billy whithursts of the past and when we climbed on to the Kevin Keegan roller coaster things were never to be the same again.The problem was the Halls took us to a level we had been dreaming of since probably the fifties but then they hit the wall and we became an average premier league side (still a million miles away from where we started)They and fred seemed to run out of ideas (fred tried but had no luck)and we became stale , yet appointing Alladice seemed to be the shrewdest move made since KK, so this season was going to be interesting and probably freds chance to earn back a bit respect.
Now we are led to believe a recluse who avoids being in the public eye is going to out Shepherd and take the reins. In the gold fish bowl which is Newcastle you become public property and every southern hack will be looking for dirt.Are we to believe this man is going to be our salvation and lead us to the promised land ? I sincerely hope so but it does seem a bit strange.Abramovich he is not but he can still buy and sell Shepherd so lets hope some of the profits he rakes in from selling absolute crap will be thrown at the team.And all the single mothers from the west end will be contributing to the club every time they buy there new Kappa tracksuits. If the big guy does get the push and leaves with his millions I would like to say Thanks Fred not only for the comedy moments and Gaffs but for leaving the club on the blocks ready for our new dawn.Cheers Big Man...Jackie

Brian Jackson said:

Just when I was getting excited about the dawn of the new era following Big Sams appointment , along comes this bomb shell.
The new era promised a more professional approach throughout the club and hopefully the end of the bling culture and player power issure that I have bleated on about for ages.I was looking forward to the exodus of players who didnt want to play for us and having a team with a work ethic installed into them. I also hoped that we end this policy of trophy signings ie big money and wages for big name players who were only chasing the cash and causing dressing room disharmony.
And now we have a messiah coming aling with maybe a shed full of cash and we all start thinking of the major investment in players that will take us back to our " rightful" place in the Champions league etc.
Does this mean the old merry go round will start again and bring us no trophies like all previous attempts to buy success have achieved but we become a "big " club by buying "big" players to appease the fans and increase the popularity ratings.
I sincerely hope not . Lets all allow Big Sam to implement his plans and see what happens. Invest in the backroom infrastructure of the club first and lets see what happens.
There is talk of a good infrastructure being on place and there is in terms of the stadium and merchandicing etc but it is clear that it does not extend to the playing side so lets get that right first .
Lets have a long term plan for once that does involve stability throughout the club and not knee jerk reaction .

block said:

I have one worry about all of this. How long is it going to take?
The last thing we need is a prolonged takeover restricting us in the transfer market. For the last few seasons we have sat and watched the transfer windows sail by with very little activity for us. Owen was a big move and early on, but other than that, where our defense has needed strengthened for what seems like ever, nothing seemed to happen.
I hope Sheperd sells up quickly and doesn't drag this out. We need the money invested and the players brought in NOW.

rich said:

ONE - lets hope its all sorted out quickly and does not restrict 'wor' Sam in re-shaping the side. This is vital.

TWO - lets be positive about this, stop worrying about trophey signings and going round in a circle and all that sort of nonsense! We all know the club needed a good clear out from tea lady to chairman, from coaches to players. If this comes off in the next couple of weeks then all our dreams and hopes of having a new, fresh, structured Newcastle ready for the new challenges ahead could be realised much much much more quickly than any of us thought possible. That can only be a good thing.

Bring on next season.

Mr Martin Lewis said:

We progressed significantly under SJH as he had a vision, strategy and plan. It also made him rich(er) but we didn't mind as we shared in his success. Under FFS we have stagnated, declined and become a butt of jokes. In my opinion FFS doesn't have the vision, strategy, acumen or day-to-day management skills to warrant the role he occupies. It's time for a change and let's not be sentimental.
To coin a phrase (copyrighted), "Howay the Wad"

Tom Noble said:

What I can't understand is, why has all this taken so long? Someone, somewhere, like Mike Ashley must have surely been looking at our superb club and fans, thinking to themselves, "These fans turn up in their droves, week in, week out, home, away, abroad it doesn't really matter and for what? Never won nowt for nearly 40 years, came close, but, never won a jot. Question; What would happen if this club did win anything? I dread to think. SJP would not be big enough, they wouldn't be able to make enough shirts for everyone and the manager and 'new chairman' would be GODS forever. Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool would just become small fish compared to this 'sleepy' Toon. Hurray for this new injection of blood, it's absolutely vital that this takeover happens swiftly and without any fuss. Freddie, sorry to here you're ill mate, but take your money, enjoy retirement, this position has obviously taken it's toll on you. If Sir John says this will be good news for the club, then myself and Thousands of Geordies around the globe will be in agreement. There's no debt involved, unlike other clubs, Mr. Ashley has a stash of money at his disposal and he is clever enough to see the huge potential to market this club into an INTERNATIONAL sporting club.Don't spoil this ambition Freddie. Geordie Abramovich has just came knocking at your door. Don't keep him waiting!! Forty years a mag.

M Green said:

Fantastics news!!! This is the way forward. I have my NUFC share certificate ready to sell to Ashley already. If all the other fans do the same Freddy will lose control of the club and wont get away with abusing the club as he has done often in the past.
I have enjoyed being a shareholder in NUFC and in fact sent my £100 off to Sir John Hall in the first failed stock Exchange listing. However, since the fans only have about 8-9% of the shares their holding means absolutely nothing to Shepherd. We couldn't even stop him from changing NUFC stockholders meetings from Newcastle down to London, which he did to stop fans turning out to protest.
Few in the city even see it as a serious PLC given the low percentage of the company that was actually floated and the lack of a respected professionals running the PLC side of things.

With Ashley we could have the best of both worlds, we could be the biggest English owned premiership club with loads of financial clout without the need to report every bid for a player to the city as PLCs are required to do, if as expected he takes it back into private ownership.

This could be a new professional era in NUFC's history where we stabilise the club back into Champions League regulars.
We'll see.....

oxboy said:

Without the bumbling, ineffective, embarrasing Shepherd the flock can only prosper.

Frank - Angolan NUFan said:

The new man is a highly successfull businessman and build his sportswear empire from within the UK.

Usually these guys turn money into much more money and I do not expect that his habitt will change now?
He will run NUFC as a profitable business and that is very sound,
look at the Chelsea debt and what could happen if RA is tired of his blue toy?

It is also proven that you cannot buy a team but it must be build, therefore we must give the time it takes to Sam and the new man to build a new winning team at SLP.
I say that because comparing again with the blues, the backbone players Terry/Lampard/Cole/
Gallas(left)already being there before the arrival of Abramovich!

Altough rebuilding will not happen overnight, if we look at the blitz success of Mr.Ashley be assured that he will not waste time to taste success
out of his new investment.

So far this is considered all very positive but there might be a problem,
(and here I agree with some of the previous comments)

is that a possible upcoming boardroom struggle must not delay or prevent Sam of roaming the transfer market and acting swiftly when the best oportunities arrive!
If not another year will be lost maybe never to be recuperated?

By the way, is it possible that there is an exsisting link between Mike Ashley -
Umbro - Alan Shearer ?!

Exciting stuff...

David Dunn said:

I hope he isn't a Geordie Abramovich, NUFC need above all to be run professionally with organisation not just be the toy of some rich man who once he gets bored will leave Chelsea with massive unsustainable debts.

sam said:

at least this guy has some sort of an intrest in sports. it wasnt long ago i was sayin clear the whole lot of them out. nows the chance if he can take over we can bild a new defence instead of repairing an old 1

john taylor said:

looking forward to the 'new' in newcastle !

howay the lads in 07/08!!!

Gerry Hagon said:

He is English.
He enjoys his sport.
He has plenty of money.
He looks the part, and he is buying the best football club in the world.
Hallelullah!

Newcastle Tom said:

It goes with out saying you lot are the greatest supporters in the country. But you are the greatest supporters for the other side when it comes to vocal you have lost your voice like man.u wimps.you now have a chance to redeem yourselves with the the new changes at the top thank you sir John and Fred for whayou have done I am 76 years young let us hear you let rip instead of turning over in their greaves they wil smile howay the lads

Newcastle Tom said:

It goes with out saying you lot are the greatest supporters in the country. But you are the greatest supporters for the other side when it comes to vocal you have lost your voice like man.u wimps.you now have a chance to redeem yourselves with the the new changes at the top thank you sir John and Fred for whayou have done I am 76 years young let us hear you let rip instead of turning over in their greaves they wil smile howay the lads

Newcastle Tom said:

It goes with out saying you lot are the greatest supporters in the country. But you are the greatest supporters for the other side when it comes to vocal you have lost your voice like man.u wimps.you now have a chance to redeem yourselves with the the new changes at the top thank you sir John and Fred for whayou have done I am 76 years young let us hear you let rip instead of turning over in their graves they wil smile howay the lads

Newcastle Tom said:

It goes with out saying you lot are the greatest supporters in the country. But you are the greatest supporters for the other side when it comes to vocal you have lost your voice like man.u wimps.you now have a chance to redeem yourselves with the the new changes at the top thank you sir John and Fred for whayou have done I am 76 years young let us hear you let rip instead of turning over in their graves they wil smile howay the lads

Newcastle Tom said:

It goes with out saying you lot are the greatest supporters in the country. But you are the greatest supporters for the other side when it comes to vocal you have lost your voice like man.u wimps.you now have a chance to redeem yourselves with the the new changes at the top thank you sir John and Fred for whayou have done I am 76 years young let us hear you let rip instead of turning over in their graves they wil smile howay the lads

WORDANNYMAN said:

I am really excited about Mike Ashley -- he is passionate about football, business and winning -- hold on to your seat Big Sam he will take you places never before imagined-- Howay Hinnie!!

zinchead said:

It appears that there is still a way to go before Ashley gains full control of the club but it looks like he can accomplish that with or without the support of FFS.
Maybe Freddie is secretly doing summersaults at the thought of cashing in and all this noise about resistance is just hype- driven by his conscience...after all, he did increase his shareholding recently quite a bit and I reckon he knew what he was doing at the time...
As for Big Sam, who I think will be a great manager for the club, he MUST have known about this from the outset and if so, he's played Shepherd a dream..

Plus...I would have renewed my tickets anyway because this is my team..I supported them when we almost went to D3 and will support them when they finally win something!!

Roll on August and bring on the mackems...I feel a lot more confident now with Big Sam than I did 2 weeks ago!

stevie said:

this can only be good news for nufc ever since the kevin keegan days we have had next to nothing to shout about we are the best fans in the world and we deserve a team to be proud of i agree with previous comments about people coming for big money contracts we dont need another chelsea we need staff and players who want to wear the black and white shirt with pride and show what it means to them i hope for the sake of this club its the real thing and ashley has the best interest of nufcat heart sorry freddy your time has come to step down dont make a fuss after all im sure you want the best for this club aswel as the geordies.bring back to glory days goodluck with the takeover mr ashley look forward to it

Swede said:

IÂŜve been waiting for this so long, and suddenly, unexpected to me, Mr Mike Ashley knocks on the Magpie door.
IÂŜm sure heÂŜs good news to all of us fans all over the world.
IÂŜve been a fan since more than 50 years back.
Cheers from Sweden.

Si Purvis said:

Get well soon Freddy, but please let the toon get out of it's sick bed and become as fit as a butchers dog under a fresh face (or cameo). Two new guys running our club Ash & Sam will give us some hope to strive in the coming seasons and not another year of torture. Please do the right thing if you are a true toon fan and let the magpies fly.

alex scott said:

Trust shepherd to have a clause in his contract to get nearly a million if he is fired. One of us???? Get lost freddy - you are nothing like us.

M Green said:

Since Shepherd still owns 30% of the shares, if he were sacked he would effectively be paying £300,000 of his £1M Redundancy from his own stock value. =)

NORTHSHIELDSMAGPIE said:

Come on the toon.. i admit i am a fan who has been dissinterested the last few years. but i am over the moon with the prospect of big signings and shrewd ones at that. Big sam, more than any manager since kk has me buzzing about the pastures anew. I think this is the best signing since alan shearer. Along with ashleys money..fingers crossed..i think we can seriously in 3 yrs time be right in the thick of it again. UP THE TOON ARMY

mandy said:

iam a newcastle fan through the very bad times and exciting times and these bad times,but the take over is just what nufc needed because we could never compete with the big four,simple the players we needed would not have come to newcastle,iam sad to see scott parker go , i didnt know that he was unhappy at newcastle, butin joey barton we have a good player,looking forward to next season but i dont expect to much next season but the future looks good.haway the toon

Glenn from down south said:

I have been a NUFC supporter since the late 80's ( and i live down south) and have to say im really unsure about selling my share. Something doesnt feel right. Granted i payed £30 for my share but its a part of the club i have supported for over 20 years and im not just going to roll over cos some billy big wallet has shown up..

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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