Is it time we all recognised the fantastic work Ashley has done in Toon town?
Mike Ashley has endured a troubled time as Newcastle United's owner; accused of not conducting due diligence before purchasing the Club, criticised for his sackings of managers and recently hammered for the renaming of St James' Park. But is it time we all recognised the fantastic work Ashley has done in Toon town?
Newcastle fan Ashley bought the club in 2007 for a reported £134 million, inheriting a debt of around £65 million, on which the club was paying £6.5 million in interest each year. Ashley has now wiped this debt out, reduced the interest the Club pay's on it borrowings to just over £200,000 a year and has increased the Club's turnover by 69% in his five years in charge.
After initially being a popular figure, often pictured cheering the team on in the stands with fans, his sacking's of 'King Kev' and Chris Houghton, his strange appointment of Joe Kinnear and the selling of then star forward Andy Caroll have been just a few of a string of decisions that saw that popularity decline.
But in Alan Pardew, he has appointed a manager that may guide the club to a European place this season - not bad considering they were playing in the Championship two seasons ago; with the money from the sale of flop Caroll, the club has invested in classy new players that have stengthened the squad and enabled them to challenge at the top half of the table; and Newcastle are now one of few clubs in Europe who can say they are close to breaking even every season.
So just why is he not a popular figure? Many fans will say that it is not the decisions he's made that they opposed, but a lack of communication around why they were made.
Before his purchase of Newcastle, Ashley was a very private individual, who would never be found at public business gatherings. Therefore it could be said he is someone who does not like to have to communicate too much with people. His purchase of the Club launched him into the public spotlight - a place he is clearly uncomfortable in. Whatever his personality, his reasons for not always fully communicating his decisions with fans; surely Tyneside must now see the benefits these decisions are having on their beloved club; and surely they must start to get behind him - especially if they will be back playing European football next season.