Well, it has been several months since Newcastle United published their last set of audited accounts at Companies House (March 2011), and that was for 2009/10. However, at that time it did appear as if the debt had actually risen significantly, though it is hard to deny that the the club are in a somewhat less perilous position finacially since Mike Ashley took over the club from the gruesome twosome, Freddy Shepherd and Douglas Hall.
In June 2007 when Ashley finally gained full control of the club, it looked as if the club was £71 million in debt, however, after Ashley’s takeover, it became apparent that the mortgage on the ground had to be paid off, and the level of debt was actually £124 million. More details are available from the site NUFC Finances site.
In the last published set of accounts, published in March 2011 (for 2009/10), they revealed that the club’s net debt at that time stood at around £150 million, most of this figure being owed to a certain Mr.MJW.Ashley of Totteridge, Hertfordshire. It also revealed that despite a slightly misleading statement by Newcastle United in May 2010 which read:
“In relation to recent media speculation following the statement made by the Club on May 9, Newcastle United would like to make it clear that owner Mike Ashley is not looking for his interest free loan to be repaid, or to take any money out of the Club.”
The accounts revealed that while the Aldridge Prior of football didn’t take back any repaynents on loans in the club’s relegation year, or from his well documented £111 million interest free loan (which is repayable on demand) but that he is indeed clawing back at least some of his loans to the club.
From the 2009/10 accounts:
“The group’s total outstanding loan balance from Mr.M.J.W.Ashley was £139.8 million (30th June 2009 £111 million) including £16.5 million due after more than one year (see note 13). All of these loans are non-interest bearing £28.8 million (30th June 2009 £nil) is secured on future broadcasting income, of which £12.3 million is repayable in August 2010 and the remainder, £16.6 million is repayable after more than one year (see note 13). The remaining (unsecured) balance of £111 million (2009 £111 million) is repayable on demand.
The loan of £16.5 million from Mr M J W Ashley is secured on future broadcasting revenue and is repayable no earlier than August 2011.”
Why did Mike Ashley buy Newcastle United?
In a statement made in October 2007 Mike Ashley attempted to explain what attracted him to buying Newcastle United amongst other things saying:
“I bought this club to become part of its passion and it has worked. I feel at home here already. I love the place, the club and especially the fans, who wouldn’t?”
In a statement made in September 2008, he said on the same subject:
“Newcastle attracted me because everyone in England knows that it has the best fans in football…” adding later:
“Don’t get me wrong. I did not buy Newcastle to make money. I bought Newcastle because I love football.”
However, previous Newcastle United owner, Sir John Hall, gave a different, and far more convincing reason in a recent interview (August 2011) with Newcastle United website “Toon Talk“. Hall spoke of the negotiations which led to Ashley’s takeover of the club saying:
“I was told that the man behind the deal was Mike Ashley and I sat with his representatives over 3 days thrashing out a deal. I was keen to know why they wanted the club and they were quite honest. They wanted to market their sports goods in the Far East and would use the club to help do this.”
The gradual transformation of St James’ Park into a huge billboard for Ashley’s Sports Direct empire would certainly seem to bear this out somewhat.
Is Mike Ashley a ‘Cockney’?
There are several definitions of what a Cockney is, ranging from someone who was born within earshot of the bells of St Mary le Bow in East London’s Cheapside (roughly a three to four mile radius), to just a Londoner in general – Mike Ashley fits into none of those categories. He was born in Walsall, NOT Burnham in Buckinghamshire as his Wikipedia profile suggest, however he was raised in Burnham (on the outskirts of Slough). Currently, his main residence is in Totteridge near Barnet in South Hertfordshire (maps here and here).
Is Mike Ashley a Tottenham Hotspur supporter?
Speaking in an interview, Mike Ashley once said on the rumour:
“It is upsetting for them to read these things; they read I am a mad Spurs fan and this sort of thing, and of course it is not true – I absolutely hate Spurs. I always have done.”
In another interview, which I have lost now and failed to source elsewhere, I also recall Ashley claiming to be a Chelsea supporter and frequenter of Stamford Bridge, and also an England supporter who used to follow the national team around the world.
The rumour possibly started because of his close association with Property Developer and football exective, Paul Kelmsley, who used to be a Vice Chairman of the North London club. He is currently chairman of the New York Cosmos.
Former NUFC Chairman, Chris Mort, had this to say on the rumour:
“I know where those rumours come from – Paul Kemsley is a very good mate of Mike’s. But it’s just not true that Mike is looking to sell Newcastle. End of story.”
I may continue this into a second episode of myths / facts about our well upholstered owner at some time in the future if I remember any more, or if more come to light in the future.