Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley still tops North East Rich List

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has seen his personal wealth plunge by £270million in the past year.

That, however, still leaves the controvertial Sports Direct tycoon as the rishest man in the North East, worth £2.14billion.

Ashley comfortably tops the list ahead of Sunderland AFC owner, Texan businessman Ellis Short.

The figures are contained in this year’s Sunday Time Rich List.

The biggest gainer in the region is Peter Stephenson, owner of Hartlepool’s Able UK yard, who has seen his wealth rocket in the last 12 months.

Mr Stephenson and his family become the fourth richest in the North East because of a £232million wealth increase in the past year.

Mr Stephenson founded Able UK in 1966 and has built it into a market-leading marine decommissioning and land development business.

Ashley, 52, despite remaining the region’s richest man, has experienced a tough 12 months with his Sports Direct warehouses attracting negative media attention due to staff working conditions.

The value of the Nottinghamshire-based operation is now £1.73billion, down from £4.5billion a year ago, and Ashley’s stake is now valued at £980million, down £270million over the same period.

Ashley remains richer than both owners of rival North East football clubs Sunderland and Middlesbrough combined.

Sunderland owner Ellis Short and Middlesbrough owner Steve Gibson are valued at £1.2billion and £195million respectively, with both individuals having experienced no change in their wealth over the past 12 months.

Newcastle United’s rivals Sunderland AFC are close to completing a miserable season that has seen them relegated to the second tier of English football.

Owner Ellis Short, 56, is actively cost-cutting to try to reduce the club’s £140million debt.

The Fenwick retail fortune continues to grow with Mark Fenwick and family now standing at £730million, up £30million on last year, making them the third richest in the region.

Dame Margaret Barbour, who runs the South Shields-based clothing firm which bears the family name, is eighth on the list with £345million- up £10million on last year.

Rock star Sting, 65, remains one of the wealthiest in the North East after his North American tour with Peter Gabriel last year pulled in $28million box office receipts.

Chris Whitfield, 52, is a new entry and is worth £161million.

Whitfield has a stake of more than 78% in UK Land Estates, which owns and operates 25 commercial estates.