Mike Ashley on Rafa Benitez, the Tyne-Wear derby draw and why Newcastle are ‘stuck’ with him

Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley remains "hopeful" the Magpies will stay up this season – and says he is committed to the club regardless.

In an exclusive interview with Sky News, Ashley said he was going nowhere.

“I’ve got no choice. I think I’m wed to Newcastle United like Sports Direct. They’ve got me and I’ve got them and that’s just the way it is.”

Second-bottom Newcastle United, who drew 1-1 with Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday, are battling relegation to the Championship.

The Sports Direct boss says he believes Rafa Benitez can keep them up.

He added on the derby result: “It’s disappointing because I, personally, want to win every game for Newcastle United and it really doesn’t matter who they are playing.

“I’m a little disappointed but it’s not a disaster.

“I think we’ve got the right man in the job. If there’s any chance of us staying up, hopefully Rafa can do the business and keep us up there.”

Ashley, meanwhile, has refused to face MPs in Parliament over staff working conditions despite a formal summons.

The Commons Business, Innovation and Skills committee wants to quiz Ashley over the treatment of workers at the sportswear giant.

They have warned he could be in contempt of Parliament if he fails to attend but Ashley told Sky News he intends to challenge the formal order to appear before MPs which he slammed as an "abuse of the Parliamentary process".