Newcastle United fans fear that this is an uncomfortable truth

What’s going on? Newcastle United, for the first time in 14 years, are in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 5:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 5:30 pm

And, maybe surprisingly, owner Mike Ashey, the man who many fans blame for the club’s dismal cup record, was at the Kassam Stadium to see the club’s 3-2 win over Oxford United.

Ashley has only seen a handful of games over the past year, so what did his appearance mean, if anything?

At least one group has been involved in takeover talks in recent weeks. A Saudi-funded consortium involving Amanda Staveley and the billionaire Reuben brothers has been discussing a £340million takeover, and things appeared to be moving towards some kind of conclusion, one way or another, last week.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley.

Since then? Silence, from all sides, which may, if anything, suggest a deal could yet be done.

Was Ashley, with associates Justin Barnes and Keith Bishop, there in support of Steve Bruce? Or was there more to it? Was it a message amid more takeover speculation?

Certainly, Ashley’s presence in the directors’ box didn’t go unnoticed at the far side of the ground, where Newcastle’s 1,779 travelling fans were housed.

Again, Ashley – who last summer said he could own Newcastle “forever” – was told to “get out of our club”. The TV cameras caught the billionaire’s reaction to the chant.

Many supporters, however, seem to believe that there’s every chance that Ashley will be owner for some time to come – whatever interest there is in the club from around the world.