MIKE Ashley has finally broken his silence at Newcastle United.
The club’s billionaire owner has NEVER spoken publicly since taking over at St James’s Park.
But Ashley, also a shareholder in Rangers, was cornered at the annual general meeting of his sportswear business Sports Direct, which advertises – for free – at the club’s stadium, which was controversially renamed the Sports Direct Arena for almost a year.
A journalist with voting rights at the meeting asked Ashley to “explain the benefits to Sports Direct in its relationship with Newcastle United and Rangers”.
Ashley paused, then said: “Other than to say that it’s been beneficial to Sports Direct, and therefore its shareholders, I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment.”
Pressed for a fuller explanation, he added: “Nothing else needs to be said.”
When Ashley was asked what were the benefits to Newcastle and Rangers of their association with Sports Direct, which runs their retail operations, Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell intervened.
It emerged this month that Ashley – who owns almost 10 per cent of Rangers – bought the naming rights to Ibrox for £1.