Mike Ashley: I’d sell Newcastle – if I could find a buyer

Mike Ashley with Lee Charnley in the stands during the Premier League opener against Spurs.
Mike Ashley with Lee Charnley in the stands during the Premier League opener against Spurs.

Mike Ashley says he would sell Newcastle United – if he could find a buyer.

Ashley – who bought the club a decade ago – expects to retain ownership of the Premier League club for a “good while longer”.

I’ve put £250m into the football club. Guys, that’s it. There’s no more from me. Now the club has to generate it’s own money.

Mike Ashley

That was the latest startling revelation from the club’s billionaire owner.

Ashley – who was at St James’s Park for yesterday’s 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur – said he couldn’t compete with other clubs with richer owners as his fortune is in Sports Direct shares.

And Ashley reiterated that Newcastle must generate its own funds for manager Rafa Benitez, who last week told of his frustration at the club’s failure to secure a number of summer transfer targets.

“If somebody would like come along and take this seat and fund Newcastle with a nought on the end with their wealth more than me, I will not stand in Newcastle United’s way,” Ashley told Sky Sports.

“One of the reasons I’m doing this interview is that I don’t think you’ll find there’s many people out there who will actually stand up and do it.

“I think we’re going to be together a good while longer and we’ve got the man in Rafa and let’s hope that we can generate some funds and we give him some chance to get some building blocks going over the coming years.”

Ashley added: “I’ve put £250m into the football club. Guys, that’s it. There’s no more from me. Now the club has to generate its own money.”

Benitez was promised “every last penny” the club generated through promotion and player sales in a meeting at the end of last season.

“Every penny the club generates, he can have, but it won’t generate enough,” said Ashley.

“With (United managing director) Lee Charnley’s help – and Lee Charnley answers to Rafa, not the other way around, so we’re crystal clear – Rafa makes all the final decisions on the players out and the players in, but he has to do it with the money the club has.
“In theory I’m a billionaire, but in reality my wealth is in Sports Direct shares.”