Here we go again, another summer that the club should be building on, and another one that has sunk into absolute chaos, don’t think anyone would have thought it would get this bad. One man at the top, who has no idea how football works, has managed to detach a fan base, and make the club a laughing stock.
The main issue that surrounds Ashley, among many others, is he is surrounded by ‘yes’ men and those that don’t have a clue how football works, and I’m including Lee Charnley in that group, he is not without blame!
This has led to Ashley running this once great club like one of his many retail outlets, because there is no one as far as I can see that will tell him otherwise. The only two that have are no longer at the club, in the shapes of Kevin Keegan and Rafa Benitez. The buy cheap, throw on the shelves and sell at a mark-up simply won’t wash in the world of football.
I don’t pretend to know how to run a club, but anyone can tell the business side of football is a completely different monster to anything else, especially retail. But both aims seem to fall in line, keep your customers happy! In football that is your fan base, and to a certain extent the playing staff.
It is this difference that Ashley fails to, or is too ignorant to grasp. Let’s not kid ourselves, in terms of retail business, he knows what he is doing, even if he does break some ethical or even human rights laws in how some of his staff are treated.
This inability to grasp how the sport operates has never been so evident as this summer, even if most of the past 12 years have been questionable. A Sports Direct manager will not walk out because he refuses to stock the latest Adidas or Nike branded apparel, a football manager will leave if it looks like there is no ambition from the club. If a manager or player feels like a club is going nowhere, they will look to move on to a club that can match their goals, after all football is a results business.
Questions are being asked this summer as too Ashley’s running of the club, even to the point that former Crystal Palace chairman, and long time advocate of Ashley’s tenureship Simon Jordan has said on TalkSport that he has to sell the club, because he doesn’t have a clue.
There has been talk from some fans of boycotting the Arsenal game, which not only being the first game of the season, but is live on TV. There has even been some supporters cancelling their season tickets because they don’t feel like they can attend games while he sits in the directors box. The flip side of this is that people who have renewed or bought season tickets, have been vilified and even been told they cannot complain about Ashley going forward! This last point I totally disagree with, let people do what they want in regards to going to matches, but I digress.
Although an empty St James’ Park will certainly send a message worldwide as to our feelings towards the Sports Direct magnate, and is something this Season Ticket holder is behind! Hopefully it will embarrass the owner into action (if indeed he is still in charge then) but the question remains can he feel embarrassed, is he capable of feeling at all?
So how do you solve a problem like Mike Ashley? The simple answer is as a fan base I don’t think we can. I think that not only is he that arrogant it won’t effect him, but remember this is a man who has appeared in front of parliament at least twice, and the courts on numerous occasions and still hasn’t changed. Nothing seems to deter the man from doing what he feels is the right course of action, and the people around him don’t help.
Unless he changes his inner circle, which is unlikely, the only hope we have is someone shows Ashley enough money that he accepts to sell the club and ride of into the distance.
Either that or somehow the guaranteed money from the Premier League drops! And seeing as each club will get at least £100 million each season (£80 million in TV rights regardless of how many times you are shown, and at least £20 million placing) which only leaves the option of relegation. But for a man who loves money, and allows it to control his personality, he will wait until the club is back in the top flight, and take one last payday!
Simply Ashley doesn’t care about the fan base, I honestly believe that anything we do, even with good intentions, won’t effect him one iota! The only way to solve the problem is for him to sell up, and it will be on his terms!
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