Mike Ashley plans to remain Newcastle owner for at least two more years

Mike Ashley plans to remain Newcastle owner for at least two more years

 

Derek Llambias and Mike Ashley, Newcastle United cropped

 

Mike Ashley is ready to stay on as Newcastle owner for at least two more years.

 

The Sports Direct tycoon has ploughed £280 million into Newcastle, including £150 million in interest free loans, and has concluded the only way to protect his assets is to establish United as a Premier League club again.

 

Newcastle’s vast potential was revealed this week when it was placed 20th in a list of the world’s richest clubs during last season.

 

Ashley is keen to stay in charge and right the “mistakes“ he has made, although crucially there has been no public apology yet for his regime’s treatment of legends Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer.

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Sources say Newcastle have struck a series of key business deals in recent weeks – including rebranding the ground with a companies name alongside @St James’ Park next season. That is part of the club’s watered down version to “sell naming rights“ of the stadium.

 

Newcastle are also exploring investment in two giant screens at St James’ which could show replays and carry adverts. Installation of the screens this summer will also give the city’s bid to be a host city in the World Cup 2018 a boost, meeting FIFA’s criteria.

 

MD Derek Llambias has insisted that Ashley and his management team want to put the past behind them… so they can go drinking in the Bigg Market after games again.

 

He said: “We’d like to be able to go out on the town after a win – we always used to and enjoy the crowd – but now it’s very difficult for us to do that.

 

“We understand that we’ve made mistakes in the past. We came out before and said enough’s enough, this is what happened. We need to move forward.

 

“I think the communication factor is basically that whenever we’ve tried to communicate it’s always backfired somewhere along the line so we’re quite happy to sit back and let our team do the speaking.

 

“The club’s not for sale – Mike took it off the market. He’s committed to getting the club back up to the Premier League and that’s why we spent so much money in the January window.

 

“He’s decided that’s it – he’s going to back it as much as he can. We’ll carry on, put it back where it needs to be and move the club forward on the original business plan we had.

 

“We are solid but we’re solid because we need to get that promotion.”

 

Newcastle entertain Barnsley today hoping to maintain unbeaten home record throughout the season and equal a 103 year old club record.

 

Manager Chris Hughton has revealed his players have banned talk of promotion until the job is done. He said: “I think there’s a confidence in the group – there’s no doubt about that – but I haven’t overheard one conversation where people are talking about promotion and being in the Premier League next season.

 

“It’s too early to talk about tasting promotion. Although we have a points difference between ourselves and Forest in third, we’re driven by the recognition that if you have a bad week, the whole picture can change.

 

“There’s a fair bit of toughness in the team – we’re a side that are capable of grinding out a result – but there’s also a decent amount of flair. There’s a lot of maturity in the team and I think we are able to win games in different ways.

 

“If we have to battle it out and produce a real dogged performance to get a result, we can do that. It is down to the personalities in the team. Nobody really wants to get carried away.”

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