I feel sad for Mike Ashley and Newcastle United FootBall Club
FORMER Newcastle chairman Sir John Hall yesterday said he felt sorry for owner Mike Ashley. The man who sold his shares to Mr Ashley also said he fears the possibility of big-money foreign investors who buy football clubs as "toys".
His comments came as a South African consortium was reported to have emerged as rivals to the Nigerian group looking to take over at St James’s Park.
And Sunday newspapers named Nigerian media billionaire Mike Adenuga as the man behind the bid fronted by football agent Chris Nathaniel.
He said: “When I met Mike Ashley and his advisers they had the best intentions for the club.
“He wanted to stay there and develop it so I feel sad for him and sad for the club.
“When he bought the shares I had lots of talks with him and his team. He was coming in to build for the long run and he is a football fan.
“Newcastle was a brand to him and he wanted to use it to market his business abroad – he had a long- term vision. He’s a good businessman but a novice in the game, as I was when I first came into the game.” Reflecting on the possibility of Newcastle joining the ranks of foreign-owned clubs, he added: “Roman Abramovich changed the game for ever. There’s nobody in Britain wealthy enough who’d be interested in investing. Even Mike Ashley was struggling and £200m is a lot of money.
“No way can the rest of the clubs compete. The debate at Newcastle will be – should they try to compete with the super-rich?
“It’s affecting the game. Can anyone compete? I think they are fools if they try.
“The Premier League clubs are being bought as toys, they’ll have them for a few years then throw them away, that’s my view.
“These people don’t know the passion of the fans. The Premier League is a tremendous brand but I fear for the game and for the fans.”
Interim manager Joe Kinnear suggested on Friday that Newcastle legend Alan Shearer would be brought into the club by the new owners, to work alongside Kevin Keegan.
But the former England captain told Match of the Day on Saturday: “There is no truth in that whatsoever. I don’t know where that has come from at all.”