Mike Ashley 'does not take a penny out of Newcastle United' – statement defends Sports Direct tycoon after parliamentary criticism

Newcastle United have issued a strong defence of Mike Ashley’s ownership and running of the football club following criticism by Jeremy Corbyn.

Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 7:45 am
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05: Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech to party members and supporters as he attends a campaign rally at Newcastle City Hall on October 05, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Jeremy Corbyn attended the rally of party members and supporters with other member of the shadow cabinet. During the rally Mr Corbyn announced that in the event of a General Election he would launch the biggest people-powered campaign the country has seen. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

The Labour leader took aim at Sports Direct tycoon Ashley at the weekend when he was in the region to meet fans from a number of supporter groups, as well as local MPs.

And Newcastle have come out fighting with a statement which claims to put the record straight on Corbyn’s “damaging and misinformed opinions”.

The statement reads: “We are disappointed by comments made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at the weekend regarding football governance and club ownership, in which he specifically attacked Newcastle United.

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“Amongst his comments, Mr Corbyn accused ‘billionaire owners like Mike Ashley’ of ‘ruining our national game’, claiming these ‘bad owners’ put their ‘business interests above everything else’ and risk their clubs’ financial security.

“In overlooking existing governance and regulation, as well as the hugely positive impact Newcastle United and other professional clubs have in their communities, Mr Corbyn has demonstrated a surprising lack of knowledge about our national game.

“We feel, therefore, it is important to address his damaging and misinformed opinions in the interests of the club and its supporters.”

The statement then puts in writing that Ashley does not take a penny out of Newcastle in “interest, salary or dividend” and that every penny generated is ploughed back into the football club.

It continues: “Financially, other than sums provided to the club on a short-term, interest-free basis and repaid to him as intended, we would like to make it clear that Mike Ashley has not taken a penny out of Newcastle United in interest, salary or dividend, as is customary at many clubs.

“As stated on numerous occasions before, every penny Newcastle United has will continue to be available to it. In this financial year, the club will use an overdraft facility to manage its cashflow following a significant spend on talent in the summer. As a well-run, responsible club, that amount will be repaid in full and on time and our other regulatory obligations will be met.”

Furthermore it staunchly defends the frugal manner in which United is run – and request that Corbyn see just how much a part of the community Newcastle United Football Club actually is.

“We will not apologise for being financially sustainable, but we will push the boundaries of our budgets as far as possible to maximise the impact on the team,” the statement continues.

“We agree with Mr Corbyn that ‘a football club is more than just a club; it is an institution at the heart of our communities’. That is why our vast work across the local community will continue, with Newcastle United Foundation providing services and support to tens of thousands of people in our region each year

who truly need them.

“Often, Newcastle United Foundation’s projects fill in significant gaps that the public sector sadly cannot stretch to, particularly at a time when government cuts are so prevalent.

“We would like to invite Mr Corbyn to visit one of these initiatives to experience at first hand the incredible work that is being undertaken by the Foundation in our local community every day.”