Mike Ashley – Still playing a percentage game on transfers

Posted on July 26th, 2012 | 35 Comments |

Mike Ashley in the crowd at SJP.
Ashley: Will he look so smug at the end of August?
Of course, there have been many stories in the media linking players with Newcastle United, and of bids being made, nearly all of which should all be taken with a pinch of salt.

Most are told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing to quote Shakespeare. In terms of what is verifiable, the club have made a few derisory bids and have rattled a few cages in the hope of unsettling players, possibly in the hope they will submit a transfer request, or even go on strike to force a move at a price which is way below the market. The most recent examples being a €5 million (£3.9 million) for Yohan Cabaye’s former Lille team mate, Mathieu Debuchy, a French International left back who is now valued at around £9-10 million since the recent European Championships where he impressed, another €5 million bid for Ajax’s Dutch International midfielder, Vurnon Anita, and a highly confusing chase for another Dutch player, FC Twente centre back, Douglas Franco Teixeira. Indeed, the pursuit of Douglas has been so confusing that even Twente’s chairman, Joop Munsterman, was led to remark, “It’s unclear precisely what Newcastle and Douglas want.” Perhaps he doesn’t know what one UK banker said of Mike Ashley, that “He likes to park his tanks on people’s lawns.” Whilst there have been reports of higher bids in some quarters of the media, they have not been substantiated, just “understood” or “suggested,” which can be media speak for “complete and utter guff.” Now of course, the latest attempt to park his tanks has been has been a concerted and brazen attempt by his manager Alan Pardew to unsettle Andy Carroll at Liverpool, with Pardew assuring Carroll that he has no future at Liverpool and that the Merseyside club must let him go at a much reduced fee, preferably to the club who sold him in the first place.

Of course, there have been some significant successes in Ashley’s percentage game with transfers (as well as some failures), with the 50% off purchases of the above mentioned Yohan Cabaye, as well as Papiss Cisse from Bundesliga club, Freiburg. However there were some crucial differences in those deals. In Cabaye’s case there was a ludicrously low sell on clause which hardly anyone knew of except for Newcastle United and Lille themselves, which was around half the player’s true value at the time. In Cisse’s case it was the spectre of relegation to the second tier of German football hanging over his last club, Freiburg. Newcastle United could have had Cisse in the Summer at a greater price, however they took a gamble on no one else approaching Freiburg and waited until the January window. Despite the fact that Cisse was one of the highest scorers in the Bundesliga, Freiburg were floundering at the bottom end of the division by the time January came around and there seemed to be little hope. So eventually, in desperation, they took far less, not much more than half of the player’s true value. So, that gamble paid off in the end. Incidentally, despite losing their star striker, Freiburg actually improved and survived at the end.

Getting back to the point though, though there have been rumours of sell on clauses on some of Newcastle’s targets, the rumoured figures have been even higher than the unsubstantied bids bandied around in the media. Also, the clubs involved this time are not fighting relegation. Teams such as Lille, Ajax and FC Twente are top clubs in their respective leagues, with the first two competing in the coming season’s Champions League, and Twente competing in the Europa League alongside Newcastle United. Newcastle United are not taking a gamble with injury concerns as we did Demba Ba’s knee and Sylvain Marveaux’s groin, or with former misfits like Davide Santon and Hatem Ben Arfa for that matter, although an exception might be Douglas, who seems to be a bit of a radgepacket from what I’ve seen of him!

As mentioned above, there is also the factor of European competition and the fact that we have already let several of the more peripheral first team players go when we need a larger squad to cope with the added burden. Potential vendor clubs will undoubtedly know this and would be daft not to use it as some kind of leverage against an aggressive Ashley, a shameless trader who himself would stoop to almost any depth to gain an advantage in a deal. Ashley’s percentage strategy inevitably falls apart when more serious and ambitious clubs become involved too, as was the case with Newcastle United’s recent pursuit of another Twente player, the striker Luuk De Jong. He was snapped up by German Champions League club Borussia Mönchengladbach for around €14 million (£11 million) in the end whilst Ashley was still trying to play “hardball” with Twente.

So the question is, does Ashley still have the same leverage he had with players such as Cabaye and his low buyout clause, or Cisse with his club facing relegation with current targets such as Debuchy? I don’t know if he does. Everyone knows that Ashley likes a gamble, and everyone also knows that gamblers can sometimes have runs where they seem almost invincible. But nothing lasts forever, and runs inevitably come to an end.

With a European campaign forthcoming, Ashley may indeed have to bid at something approaching the going rate for players if he is to have a hope of reinforcing the squad sufficiently for what is to come.

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NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1055 articles on this blog.

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35 Responses

  1. It seems so obvious from here…

    One factor, however, that favors Ashley’s percentage game is the ticking clock. Not sure about Lille but the impression I get of even the well-placed Dutch sides is that when they have a chance to make a profit on a player they feel a need to take it. The values of players like Douglas & Anita may have peaked and could crater due to injury, poor performance or their current club not making Europe next season. Our people will also point out as time passes: if your valuation is so reasonable, where are the bids? I’m guessing Ashley will rely on this to some extent and will expect demands to come down with time. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the approach we used to get Cisse and others. Make an opening lowball bid and tell the potential sellers: if you get a better offer, take it; if you don’t, you know where to reach us. This is, however, a game of chicken that we may not be able to afford given that it’s common knowledge that we have to expand the squad for Europe.

  2. tunyc, as you may know, Ajax are one of the greatest footballer factories in history, possibly THE greatest, and they are more than used to dealing with European giants like Barcelona and Manchester United for top players, and the same is true to a lesser extent with Dutch clubs in general.

    One possible factor with Lille however is that they are in an Arsenal like position, ie they have just built a top notch, state of the art, 50,000 capacity roofed stadium complex which hasn’t come cheap. Like the Gooners with the Ashburton Grove stadium, it might be the making of them in the long term if they can keep filling it, but they may have to walk a financial tightrope to pay it off in the shorter term.

  3. Worky, if I purely consider the question you pose at the end,I would say that his odds have shortened. Clubs must have the size of Ashley by now and will have wised up to his game and tactics. I presume the tank that is being referred to is none other than Derek Llambias, who may indeed terrify a few people to discover pulling up on their front lawn.

  4. Nice to see Pardew and Beardo fly over to watch Kids play in Milk Cup final.

    Btw, Woodman is goal is having a blinder.

    still 0-0

  5. Lost 3-0 in Final. Lads looked tired, but played well.

    Campbell got Player of the Tournament (Premier section)!!!

  6. Nicely written worky,

    it’s a view!
    There’s no real knowledge of ‘what goes on’, we can only speculate.
    Which is fine, this is the place to do that.

    Time will tell who we get in, who ‘makes like a tree’…

  7. Paul in Hollywood says:
    July 26, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    “I presume the tank that is being referred to is none other than Derek Llambias,”

    Well he certainly is creepy, Paul. If he started doing interviews in a big rotating chair stroking a white Persian cat like “Blofeld” in James Bond it wouldn’t surprise me.

    I’ll be doing Graham Carr’s job over the next few weeks, sitting watching the Olympics with a sheepskin coat on and a flask if tea to hand.

    Senegal had a canny centre back in the England game who I noted. Also there’s a little Brazilian gadgie with funny hair who was quite tidy. His name is “Neymar” apparently and he might make a quite a decent little standby striker. Ashley should definitely try a cheeky bid for him.

  8. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    July 26, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    “There’s no real knowledge of ‘what goes on’”

    Yes there is Clint, from previous precedents, alot of homework and my little secret too. ;-)

  9. ‘previous precedents’ are still largely a ‘take’ on what happened.
    Maybe some deal was made for Cisse.
    There was some stuff put out at the time about ‘there’s money there for a striker in january’, which came to pass.

  10. will looks like debuchy deal will be wrapped up soon according to the chronicle, anybody seen footage of our new boys Romain Amalfitano and Gael Bigirimana what type of players they are with newcastle

  11. You know, you say people are getting wise to us trying to unsettle players and putting in lowball bids. Other clubs do it – Chelsea with Moses, Liverpool with Allen, Madrid and Man U with everybody they ever make an approach for.

  12. nufc337 says:
    July 27, 2012 at 11:00 am

    “anybody seen footage of our new boys Romain Amalfitano and Gael Bigirimana what type of players they are with newcastle”

    Aye, they’ve both played a bit in the pre season friendlies so far. Bigirimana is a defensive midfielder who looked pretty good when he was on and Amalfitano is an attacking midfielder who also plays on the wing. He seemed to be playing on both wings for Newcastle in the first two friendlies (against Chemnitzer and Monaco). Kept himself busy but injured himself in the warm up for the third friendly against Fenerbahce. Abeid and Sameobi have probably been the pick of the bairns so far.

  13. GS says:
    July 27, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    “You know, you say people are getting wise to us trying to unsettle players and putting in lowball bids. Other clubs do it – Chelsea with Moses, Liverpool with Allen, Madrid and Man U with everybody they ever make an approach for.”

    Chelsea, Madrid and Liverpool put in lowball bids, GS? Like £35 million for Carroll, £50 million for Torres, £80 million for Ronaldo, £12.5 million for Joe Allen etc?

  14. Everyone puts in low ball bids first.

    It’s a question of how patient or how desperate you are for that player and money isn’t really a problem.

    I back Mikes approach, it makes sense. I sick of paying over the odds for players in the past.

    The more rods we have in the river the better. Abeit that this river can run fast, but that’s a gamble worth taking.

  15. Anyway, looking forward to the games today and tomorrow. I always rely on you to post links, but I should really bookmark them shouldn’t I as they are usually the same ones???

    Enjoyed your last two articles by the way. How did you learn to speak Italian? In my school you only had a choice of French or Spanish.

  16. £12.5 for j allen more like!

    Anyone who offers the sellers price first up deserves to be ripped off.
    bollox to that…try to get the best price possible, offer cash, be prepared to walk.
    That’s what anyone itk will tell ya, to suggest otherwise is dumb.
    o_O

  17. To be fair, there is sometimes a problem though. I was selling my house last year and someone put in a bid of $90k (25%) under the offer price. I told the agent to tell them to f@ck off.

    I am on both sides of the fence now arn’t I ;)

  18. GS says:
    July 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    “Enjoyed your last two articles by the way. How did you learn to speak Italian? In my school you only had a choice of French or Spanish.”

    I only do a bit of French and Spanish really, but I got someone who knows Italian to help me, GS.

  19. GS,
    You’d do exactly the same though, huh?
    You/they can only say no.
    Shy bairns get nowt!

  20. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    July 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    “GS,
    You’d do exactly the same though, huh?”

    Clint the rapacious right wing punk :lol:

    Tell me, how many years did you make a living buying and selling?

  21. Nothing rapacious or right wing about me mate…who said i was talking about myself?
    I was talking about how business acts.

    Right wing & punk are a contradiction in terms.
    As i’ve stated many times now, i affiliate with no one.

  22. Also,
    I’ve done many things including buying & selling!

    But i take more issue with the rapacious slur.

  23. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    July 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    “Anyone who offers the sellers price first up deserves to be ripped off.
    bollox to that…try to get the best price possible, offer cash, be prepared to walk.
    That’s what anyone itk will tell ya, to suggest otherwise is dumb.”

    Aye Clint, nothing rapacious at all about that. You’re a real Anarchist. Stupid mugs all deserve to be ripped off and anyone who says otherwise is “dumb,” as you say.

    Personally, I found in my businesses that it was best to build up the intangible asset of long term goodwill with both my suppliers and my customers. Then, when my suppliers had something really good to offer which could make a canny profit, I’d be one of the first people they contacted, not the piss takers, and when my customers were looking for something else, I’d be one of the first people they contacted too. There was obviously something in it as I made so much I was able to take several years off working for no money whatsoever raising funds for not for profit organisations and campaigning groups, like real Anarchists do. ;-).

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