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No takers Mike?

By Lee Ryder on Jul 30, 09 07:35 PM

The painstakingly slow sale of Newcastle United goes on at St James's Park with the new season now just over a week away.

Wild talk that from the Middle East that a new investor with big ideas is set to come in has done nothing but add more confusion to an already gloomy scenario for Toon fans.

Derek Llambias may well have piped up to a national newspaper today but only managed to wheel out a familiar line when he said: "I can say we are very close to completing a deal and it could happen next week."

Groundhog Day more like!

You have to hope he's right but the hack who penned the story wouldn't be the first to be sucked in by this sort of line.

How many times has he said it?

Yet while every journalist is chasing the story that finally tells the world that Newcastle United have been sold - the story at the moment is quite simple.

Mike Ashley is struggling to find a buyer because he wants far too much for this football club.

In my opinion, any businessman worth his salt is not going to dive in now.

Why would you?

Remember potential buyers have to pay £100million to get their hands on the club and then agree to tackle the overdraft (thought to be around £42million), there is also the £100million loan that Ashley wants back and series of payments on transfers and contracts that take the price closer to £300million.

Potential new owners will sit back and let Ashley get to grips with the overdraft and let Ashley clear the wage bill by selling some of the players who seem determined to move on at St James's - and only then the price will drop.

The longer Ashley runs the club, the quicker the price comes down and with Sky about to pump in £12million for TV rights very soon and the revenue generated on matchdays, the business will look slightly healthier and more attractive to potential owners.

Certainly if sources close to Freddy Shepherd are to be believed, the £60million bid launched a few weeks ago will not be increased but could look like a good offer in the next couple of months if they can't sell.

Many bloggers on here are quick to accuse journalists of not asking the questions to United's board or Seymour Pierce - but the truth is the calls go in every day.

And sometimes when there is a response from Ashley's PR people the answer is only "things are ongoing" or a denial on things they don't like.

On the subject of things they didn't like, the Profitable Group certainly appeared to get under the skin of the Newcastle United board this week.

Dubbed as time wasters by "sources close to Llambias" but significant enough to merit a phone call at the crack of dawn to those same sources to reveal they had pulled out of a race they were deemed never to be involved in, in the first place!

Steve McMahon said they were genuine contenders but never had an answer back from Seymour Pierce or United.

Something is wrong somewhere.

Yet amazingly, despite being the only ones who are trying to find the truth, it is the journalists who get in it in the neck when, it is Seymour Pierce who are the ones unable to sell the club at the second attempt after two hapless attempts - and Newcastle United for failing to keep the fans up to date.

The subject of NDAs has cropped up all summer - but all fans are asking for is to be informed on progress and not necessarily who the bidders are.

We're still waiting for a response from the club on that subject - a detailed update from Mr Ashley or Mr Llambias, while Keith Harris is on a break.

We'd love to bring you that information but every time the question goes in and the door is knocked upon - it is usually quickly slammed shut in our faces.

Lazy journalism?

Lazy journalism is the world of cut and paste and sometimes the orginal source of Newcastle United content is from us - even if it gets repackaged and credited to other organisations.

At this newspaper, we put the calls in and we do knock on doors and even if the answers we get aren't the ones that people want, we get on with our jobs and go in again.

One fan emailed me today to ask why we couldn't be more positive on the football side of things.

That's a very good question and the coverage of events on the field is something that can't be neglected - we've been to every pre-season friendly this season at first team and reserve team level and provided commentary and reaction on each game.

At what stage do we accept that Chris Hughton is our manager and the ups and downs of a new season are upon us?

Now? Halfway through?

Or just like the ill-fated Premier League campaign, when it's too late and the team has a foot in the division below?

The mess sadly continues at St James's Park.

33 Comments

Toon Graeme said:

Lee,

I can tell somit has got under your skin there fella.

You will find that you and Luke Edwards will probably get it in the neck as you are the voice of the local paper.

Believe me the crud that get written in the red tops gets just as much grief from us toon fans on the boards and internet chat rooms.

I personally think that we are gonna be rubbish this season. I have seen nothing in the pre-season or end of Premiership to show me otherwise.

Arm chair fan you might ask me NO chance - I'll be with the lads from day 1 at west brom.

Here is an interesting story though. Stewards physically threatening 14 year old kids (toon fans) and standing by as grown men (leeds fans) shout abuse, throw things, swear and spit.

It was ridiculous last night in the John Hall stand and idiot meat head stewards who bully kids just about sums up alot that is wrong with the club!!

Mr Mahjoob said:

Hughton is Ashley’s man - to accept him as our manager is to accept what Ashley is doing to our club.

Mrs Mahjoob said:

Hughton is Ashley’s man - to accept him as our manager is to accept what Ashley is doing to our club.

Matt said:

You can't expect someone from outside the area to come in and throw money at the club with little chance of making a profit out of it when a large section of the "loyalist football supports the World has ever had" won't even renew their season tickets.

Btw Lee do you know for a fact that Ashley wants his loan back, or is that a guess?

Mike said:

What a lazy piece of journalism!

Mike said:

What a lazy piece of journalism!

Glen Hopper said:

Don't make me laugh. For months you ignored the mess we were in, preferring to have a go at the national media rather than Fat Cash, extolling the virtues of players who aren't good enough or who are past it instead of highlighting the trouble we were in.

Even now, you're bigging up Alan Smith, whose contribution to NUFC 'outshines' that of Xisco, Carl Cort, Marcelino and Silvio Maric!

It's not the word 'lazy' I have any problem with - it's 'journalism.'

Ryder's reply: Rewriting history part two by Glen Hopper.
Is quoting a player "bigging them up" is it?

Andy Mac said:

You would be better off telling it like it is to the local population so that the vast majority of numbskull ST holders, who go to SJP every week just because they've always done so, might just begin to realise that we really are up that well known Creek without paddles, buckets, ladels or even teaspoons.


As a local newspaper its about time you lot stood up to be counted by lighting the fuse to set off the revolution to oust this administration as quickly as possible.


Ashley doesnt care if we have no manager in place by next week nor is he bothered about the quality of the squad we have for the season. He's only concerned about the money he has tied up in the club. Yet it wasnt us, the fans, who sent this club spiralling out of control and into the Fizzy PoP League thus devaluing this club by at least 50%.


IMO its your responsibilty, to act on behalf of the local fan base, to get Ashley out as soon as possible by using the technology within your grasp (online petitions, newspaper articles and headlines etc etc) to convince these incompetent buffoons that they'll just have to cut their losses and run.


Ashley may well wish to extract his pound of flesh but if he doesnt do something to attract new owners before the end of August then he wont be able to give this club away next season. Then maybe we could all chip in and buy the club for a pound ?

Glen Hopper said:

"Ryder's reply: Rewriting history part two by Glen Hopper.
Is quoting a player "bigging them up" is it?"

Uh, let's see, you're giving credence and authority to someone who's done nowt - making them sound more significant than they are - so yes.

It might help if you stopped using the sobriquet 'ace' when referring to our players, because, with the exception of Given, we haven't had aces since Shearer and Solano.

I don't need to re-write history: it's all there in your reluctance to tell it like it is (under fat Sam too, for that matter) until well after the fans.

Glen Hopper said:

Um, let's see. You give credence and authority to someone who has spent two seasons doing nothing to warrant it. In other words, you're making him significant, so, yeah, you're bigging him up.

It might help if you stopped using the sobriquet 'ace' when referring to our players, because, with the exception of Given, we haven't had aces since Shearer and Solano.

I don't need to rewrite history. Your reluctance to have a go at Ashley until it was too late is the stuff of legend.

Ryder's reply: I think you will find that this blog has never held back on Mike Ashley ever since Kevin Keegan was not handed backing in the transfer market 12 months ago so that kind of flattens one of your arguments.

In terms of interviewing Smith, we always interview the captain after the game because it's traditional and it's part of the skipper's job to do so regardless of whether he's a great player or not.

Restless Native said:

R.I.P. Sir Bobby Robson.


One of the finest men to ever live.


A Geordie legend and a gentlement to the end.


His soul will forever be in St. James' Park.


Thanks for the great memories Bobby.

Myron said:

Rest in peace Sir Bobby... you will always be remembered.. true footballing legend...

mike ashley said:

I dont know why everyone is having a go at Lee Ryder, hes a Liverpool fan.

mofobaggins said:

Mrs Mahjoob whoever you are ,for youre comment above i gladly present you with the MUPPET award "gratz"

mofobaggins said:

Oh and it was nice to see Freddy Shepherd and Chris Houghton show respect to a great man,Ashley doesn't know enough about football i suppose .

Jimmy said:

Well no offense but if these blogs are that bad and the journalism is that bad why read and comment on them. Why not go on skysports and do it there.

Ben said:

Hi Lee I am pleased you addressed a lot of the isuues that people had been throwing at you and questions that I for one had asked in the past. I think the hostility comes from earlier in last season when the paper seemed to side and stick up for Mike Ashley and Derek Lambias and not give any credence to the fans concerns that have been unfortunately proven right.
None the less I take the points on board that you have made and appreciate the mess the club is in is making your job Near impossible at the moment. What a total mess and if any of us are honest it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better,I can see this week our squad being totally stripped and at best a squad that might just be capable of staying up in the championship, You can tell its an unhappy camp when layers who were looking to stay and fight have thrown in the towel like beye and butt,Mike Ashley is a total disgrace!

Rob said:

Saddly for for fans like myself Lee's article is about as on the money as anything being published in the local or national press at present.

I'm not sure how to take one of the comments which stated 'no wonder there is no sale if the club has only sold 25000 season tickets'. Its got to be a wind up.

Point is though, are we best withholding our hard earned cash (go to away games only if possible) or should we put more cash in to the club by attending home games? I cant stomach giving ashley any more of my money. Should we be collectively withholding money to force things to a head (ie boycott home games)??? Not sure, any thoughts??

Ivor Clark said:

I am very puzzled over the finances of NUFC. Surely Ashley, as sole owner of the club cannot then loan a 100 million to the club? Thats like he is loaning the money to himself??. So how can he expect it to be "repaid"?. Just does not add up guys n gals. But basically he can do whatever he wants with NUFC, run it into the ground, sell all the players etcetc. He OWNS the lcub lock stock and barrel. Nuffin you or I can do about it, except put in a bid ourselves. I cant see FS coming back and making a loss out of his bid. No I think what will happen is the firesale with all the big earners eventually out, no purchases, kids put in the first team and a very average first season in the Championship. Hughton might well be a half decent manager/coach there. Its all about NOT spending now re Ashley. He will try to make as much money on sales as possible, to meet the shortfall in revenue by losses in saeson ticket sales and and oustanding debts that need to be serviced. Then and only then will he sell up, and still looking to make a tidy little profit. He is a business man FIRST and football man second.....sorry but that IS the reality.....

Terry The Toon said:

I hope John Hall and Freddie Shephard are proud now that a great man like Sir Booby Robson has now departed this life. I blame these two for the fall of NUFC they sacked Bobby Robson a World Class manager a couple of games into the season and repalced him with a fifth rate manager in Graham Souness. I've been waiting for the relegation to happen ever since. It's going to take some building to get this club back where it belongs. God Rest Bobby Robson a proud gentleman who didn't deserve what he got from this rudderlist club and to Ashley go and throw yourself off the tallest building you can find and do us all a favour

Faustino said:

Ivor, I run my own business and am owed money by it. In my case it's classed as a director's loan and when (or if!!) the business has enough assets I'll be repaid. If I remember correctly Ashley wrote this off when he decided to sell the club - but who knows for real.

To everyone else, get off Lee's back. Fair enough I didn't agree with the coverage last season but if the fans can't unite what hope doe the club have. We all need to stick together - times are awful now and they may get worse, but they will get better. The vicious claim and counter claim appearing on forums like this are meat and drink to the national media and enemy fans. How about a dignified silence or, heaven forbid, an actual plan of attack as to how we rid our club of these clowns.

Faustino said:

Ivor, I run my own business and am owed money by it. In my case it's classed as a director's loan and when (or if!!) the business has enough assets I'll be repaid. If I remember correctly Ashley wrote this off when he decided to sell the club - but who knows for real.

To everyone else, get off Lee's back. Fair enough I didn't agree with the coverage last season but if the fans can't unite what hope doe the club have. We all need to stick together - times are awful now and they may get worse, but they will get better. The vicious claim and counter claim appearing on forums like this are meat and drink to the national media and enemy fans. How about a dignified silence or, heaven forbid, an actual plan of attack as to how we rid our club of these clowns.

londontoon said:

Ivor as the man above has noted MA has simply leant 1 of his buisnesses money from another therefore effectively not really him. I personally would like to see Butt and Smith follow MO OM MV + the 2 Argies out of the club.. JB & KN won't be missed either. These guys were bought as the core of our team, considered to be top level players and are given top wages to prove how highly they are thought of! These players took us down simply because they didn't do their job for one reason or another. They will not do it in this division either. If we can get 2m for the each of them then great.. I'd like to add SA to that list but think he may be canny at this level sadly... If we can tidy that mess up then we have a sale. Having said that if the reports are true about not letting Bassong go for 10m it may be because someone has agreed in principle to buy the club as it is..? -Wishful thinking!?

Gareth said:

'At this newspaper, we put the calls in and we do knock on doors and even if the answers we get aren't the ones that people want, we get on with our jobs and go in again'

Genius.

Absolute genius.

Are you still GENUINUELY sticking to the line that the 'tough' questions you posed to Llambias were the most cutting you received from the 'Toon' (cough) support?!!

PS - What's the crack with 'naming' the people behind the usernames that seemingly get a rise out of you?

pm said:

The reason we are in this mess is due to NUFC supporters. Everybody bangs on about Bobby Robson, but the fans wanted him out. I remember when we finished 5th in the league and they were booed off the pitch on the last game of the season against wolves. the boos continued into the new season giving fat freddy no choice in sacking robson. the fans got what they wanted. the hypocriscy at NUFC makes me sick. the club died along time ago...RIP Sir Bobby Robson.

pm said:

The reason we are in this mess is due to NUFC supporters. Everybody bangs on about Bobby Robson, but the fans wanted him out. I remember when we finished 5th in the league and they were booed off the pitch on the last game of the season against wolves. the boos continued into the new season giving fat freddy no choice in sacking robson. the fans got what they wanted. the hypocriscy at NUFC makes me sick. the club died along time ago...RIP Sir Bobby Robson.

RAF Mark said:

PM. Living in the now mate. You should get a job with Lee and Luke..they couldnt see the real problem was ashley and his mafia till it was to late obviously you are behind them in the queue. PS disgusting the you are using Sir Bobby as an excuse for the NUFC down fall. It was time for a change when he went but not in the manner in which the club did it. He had run his course as manager and should have been asked to move upstairs and not sacked!

DavidK said:

Agree 100% with Mark, although I feel the real reason why Sir Bobby wasn't given the board position that he so rightly deserved was that he would have had no truck with the antics of successive board members and they knew it. The adverse publicity generated by Sir Bobby's sacking was bad enough but can you imagine what him resigning from the board on grounds of Principle would have made.
I'd better explain to the likes of messers Shepherd, Hall Jnr, Ashley and Llambias' benefit. Principles are what honourable and responsible officers of any club business or institution are supposed to have and not a clothes shop on the high street.

AndyMac said:

You are a complete and utter moron pm

"The reason we are in this mess is due to NUFC supporters. Everybody bangs on about Bobby Robson, but the fans wanted him out. I remember when we finished 5th in the league and they were booed off the pitch on the last game of the season against wolves. the boos continued into the new season giving fat freddy no choice in sacking robson. the fans got what they wanted. the hypocriscy at NUFC makes me sick. the club died along time ago...RIP Sir Bobby Robson"

If you hadnt got a peanut for a brain you'd know that SJH was responsible for getting SBR the sack as he allowed a few numbskulls, on the plane back from Marseilles, to persuade him that SBR wasnt good enough despite leading us to the semi finals of the UEFA Cup and 5th in the league FFS.

The fans werent resposnible for SBR's demise so dont talk about what you obviously know so very little.

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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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