Owner Ashley puts troubled Newcastle United up for sale

September 15th, 2008 - 5:01 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 15 (DPA) Newcastle owner Mike Ashley said Sunday he is putting the club up for sale, 24 hours after an angry protest by fans who are upset at the departure of manager Kevin Keegan.Neither Ashley nor Dennis Wise, executive director of the club, attended Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat by Hull City. Fans outside the ground demanded Ashley’s exit and the return of Keegan.

Keegan left earlier this month after just eight months in charge, saying he had no control of transfer dealings, all of which were conducted by Wise.

In a statement of 1,644 words, Ashley explained his reasons.

“I am now a dad who can’t take his kids to a football game, because I am advised that we would be assaulted,” he said.

“I am putting the club up for sale. I hope the next owner is someone who can lavish the amount of money on the club that the fans want.

“I am not stupid and have listened to the fans. I have the interests of Newcastle United at heart. I have listened to you. You want me out. That is what I am now trying to do, but it won’t happen overnight, and it may not happen at all if a buyer does not come in.

You don’t need to demonstrate against me again, because I have got the message.”

Ashley, who bought Newcastle United 16 months ago for 134.4 million pounds, said that the club was still struggling financially.

“I then poured another 110 million pounds into the club, not to pay off the debt but just to reduce it. The club is still in debt,” he said.

“Even worse than that, the club still owes millions of pounds in transfer fees. I shall be paying out many more millions over the coming year to pay for players bought by the club before I arrived. I have put Newcastle on a sound financial footing. It is reducing its debt. It is spending within itself. It is recruiting exciting new players and bringing in players for the future.”

Ashley said he would only sell the club for the right price, and that his words should not be misconstrued as an attack on Keegan.

“Kevin and I always got on,” Ashley said.

“Everyone at the club, and I mean everyone, thinks that he has few equals in getting the best out of the players. He is a legend at the club and rightly so. Clearly, there are disagreements between Kevin and the board, and we have both put that in the hands of our lawyers.”

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