Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has penned an open letter to Newcastle United fans after the club’s relegation from the Premier League.
The controversial businessman has seen the Magpies drop into the Championship for the second time in his reign in charge.
And in his message to the fans, he says he ‘understands and shares their pain’ after being relegated following Sunderland’s win over Everton in midweek.
He said: “I am writing to you in the immediate aftermath of the relegation of our club – a bitterly disappointing outcome for all of us.
“Newcastle United rightly has a proud and long tradition of competing at the highest level and I therefore understand and share the pain that supporters will be feeling at this difficult time.
“Many of you have expressed strong views about what we could have done differently. I respect those views but I would like to reiterate that it has always been my intention to try to achieve the very best for Newcastle United.
“We invested heavily in the squad over last summer and again in January, but we have been unable to secure Premier League status despite the recent efforts of the team under the formidable stewardship of Rafa Benitez.
“I’ve said in the past that when I take on a challenge I am prepared to go through both good times and bad. There can be no doubt that relegation is a terrible blow but I want to assure you that the club will now be doing everything it can at all levels to try to ensure a swift return to its rightful place in the Premier League. We have done it before – we can do it again.
“In the meantime, I thank the fans for their passionate support, in particular for Rafa and the team at recent fixtures, both home and away.
“Clearly it is now time for a period of careful consideration whilst we reflect upon the lessons that need to be learned from the last 12 months to restore this great club to the very top flight of English football.”
Ashley’s letter comes less than 48 hours after a similar message from managing director Lee Charnley.
And it provoked an immediate backlash from Newcastle fans on social media, who are growing even more unhappy with the United owner’s stewardship.