There was good news. And there was bad news.
The good news, for me, was that Mike Ashley spoke.
I’ve long argued that Newcastle United’s owner should communicate with supportrers.
The bad news?
Well, that was what he had to say.
The billionaire was blunt.
“I’ve put my £250million into the football club,” said Ashley.
“Guys, that’s it. There’s no more from me. Now the club has to generate it’s own money.”
So that’s it. Ashley really won’t put a penny more into the club.
Which is worrying, especially as there apparently isn’t a queue of prospective buyers – or better still sovereign wealth funds – willing to take the club off Ashley’s hands.
Ashley was at St James’s Park for Sunday’s season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur.
And he saw a positive 45 minutes from Rafa Benitez’s side undone by another moment of madness from Jonjo Shelvey.
Benitez is doing the right things. But he needs more players and he needs better players.
United’s manager has been forced to take risks in the transfer market.
Benitez can’t buy proven Premier League quality – that costs £20million-plus per player in this window – so he’s been forced to take chances on the likes of Javier Manquillo and now Joselu, who is set to become the club’s sixth summer signing.
Manquillo did well against Tottenham. So too did Florian Lejeune before Harry Kane ended his afternoon. Mikel Merino also impressed off the bench.
Back to Ashley, who spoke to Sky Sports for a programme which was broadcast on Sunday night.
Having long criticised Ashley for his silence, I’m not going to criticise him for talking.
Ashley talked about not being able to compete against the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea.
United fans, however, aren’t expecting him to pay £100million for one player.
Supporters are NOT unrealistic in thier expectations.
But they do expect their club, which sells out St James’s Park every other week, to compete against Bournemouth, Brighton and Hove Albion, Huddersfield Town, Watford and so on in the transfer market.
Is that too much to ask?
And fans find it hard to believe Ashley – who is prepared to speculate to accumulate with Sports Direct – can’t spare a few million pounds, despite his fortune being tied up in shares.
That’s what’s hard to understand.
Ashley bought the club on a whim a decade ago.
He admitted to making many mistakes and apologised to the managers he had sacked.
Supporters believe Ashley is making another huge mistake by failing to back Benitez.