Sir John Hall reveals the reason he sold the club and the one major mistake Mike Ashley made as Newcastle United owner
Sir John Hall has revealed that he sold Newcastle United to Mike Ashley in order to ‘globalise’ the club.
The £305m takeover of Newcastle United was confirmed just over a fortnight ago, ending Mike Ashley’s 14 year reign as owner.
The takeover was met with huge celebration and feelings of relief from Newcastle United supporters who had grown disillusioned with how the Sports Direct owner had run the club.
Sir John Hall sold the club to Ashley in summer 2007 and was asked on talkSport today whether or not he regretted the decision:
“No. You can always regret things afterwards but, at the time, when I looked around when Roman Abramovich came in I said to my family, I cannot compete with this billionaire and I’m not going to risk my family’s wealth by trying to compete. It was impossible.
“I made the decision as owner to do that [to sell].
“I looked around and Ashley came and said ‘I’d like to buy a football club’ so I said to him ‘why do you want Newcastle United’?
“And what he said was that ‘I want to have a successful football team to help us sell our goods in the Far East.
“In a sense he was globalising Newcastle which I could not do. So it made a lot of sense at that time.
Initially, things looked rosey on Tyneside when Ashley became owner in 2007, often spotted among the Newcastle fans at games.
However, the good feeling soon diminished and Hall believes that was because of one key decision Ashley made:
“Unfortunately after he came in, he brought, in a sense, all his pals from London that had a history with the fans.
“It went wrong at that time and it never recovered from that date and [for the fans] it has just been a question of when Mike Ashley will sell, and he’s done it now.
“But at the time, I took his money and I took it because he was going to globalise the club.
“Mike’s easy to get on with, he’s a decent bloke, but the team he had around him was something else.”