Lie – Ashley doesn’t have any money to put into Newcastle

Mike Ashley – 14 September 2008

I knew that the club would cost me money every year after I had bought it. I have backed the club with money.  I was always prepared to bank roll Newcastle up to the tune of £20 million per year but no more. That was my bargain. I would make the club solvent. I would make it a going concern. I would pour up to £20 million a year into the club and not expect anything back.

Mike Ashley – 11 August 2017

If someone said to me I am wealthy – OK, in theory I am a billionaire, even maybe a multi-billionaire – but in reality my wealth is all in Sports (re)Direct shares that, as I said the other week, are the same as wallpaper. I don’t have that cash in the bank, so I don’t have that ability to write a cheque for £200m. I don’t have it, it’s very simple, it’s not there. I would have to sell the Sports (re)Direct shares to fund that.

You can make your own mind up on which of the two Mike Ashley quotes are closer to the truth, neither if you ask me, but what’s clear is that there is a contradiction between them.  How could Ashley have ever funded Newcastle to the level he claimed he had been willing to if he couldn’t access the money to do so?

The statement about being willing to invest £20m annually was made when Ashley had the club for sale.  It’s an implicit acceptance that this was the level of investment required for a club the size of Newcastle to compete 10 years ago, let alone in the current market. Having taken the club off the market, if he’d been the owner he thought Newcastle needed he’d have contributed £200m in the decade since.  In fact, he’s put in £34m of loans over the decade, solely to recover from relegations.

Even if you include the loans Ashley provided BEFORE he made that statement, loans to repay the mortgage on St James’ Park and cover losses and commitments in place when he arrived, the £144m of loans he’s provided is a significant amount he was able to find without selling shares in his shop.  Yet it still falls £76m short of what he claimed he was happy to put in if he’d done it for the 11 years he’s been owner, not as loans but as investments on which he did “not expect anything back.

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