Sunday, 31 May 2009

Ashley: Get me out of here now!

MIKE ASHLEY has revealed he wants to sell crisis club Newcastle ASAP.

Retail tycoon Ashley apologised for mistakes he made this season as the Magpies were relegated from the Premier League.

And he is ready to offload the club for around £100million and recoup some of his massive investment.

He said: "It has been catastrophic for everybody.

"I've lost my money and I've made terrible decisions.

"Now I want to sell it as soon as I can. Advisers will be appointed shortly."

Ashley tried to sell Newcastle last year after fans' angry reaction to boss Kevin Keegan's departure.

Keith Harris, chairman of investment bank Seymour Pierce, scoured the world looking for buyers after being asked to do so by Ashley.

Seven different consortia were provided with prospectuses outlining details of the club's financial standing.

Groups from Nigeria and South Africa were linked with buy-out bids.

But none of the interested parties came up with an acceptable deal and Ashley opted to put a hold on his plans to sell.

Ashley, who bought the club in 2007, said: "Of course I regret it.
"I never said I was an expert in football clubs.

"I was just a fan - although a very wealthy fan.

But I'm not so wealthy now.

"I put my money into it and I tried my best.

But I accept my best was woefully short.

"I am genuinely sorry for everybody about what has happened."

Damien Duff has urged on Shearer to stay on!

With the club now up for sale, the Irishman feels that Shearer should become the permanent manager...

Toon Army midfielder Damien Duff has stated that he feels Alan Shearer is the only man who should the club's manager.

The Newcastle legend was brought in by owner Mike Ashley for the remaining eight games of the season, in a bid to retain the Magpies Premier League status.

However, Shearer could not save the club from the drop and the they found themselves relegated on the last day of the season, after a defeat to Aston Villa.

The manager's post is still far from permanently occupied at St. James' Park, with manager Joe Kinnear suffering from illness halfway through the season, and Shearer's future with the club still very much undecided.

Duff has made it clear who he feels should be at the helm of the club, stating that Shearer is the one who must be given the role.

Speaking to The Sunday Mirror, Duff said, "Alan Shearer is the only man for the job. I am sure it will be him."

The Magpies have just been put on the market by Ashley, who has set an asking price of £100 million, and could even accept a £90 million bid for the club.

The team's current position means that a massive change, in terms of playing staff, is expected, with many of the club's top players set to leave St. James' Park.

Duff has said that he would like to remain with the club, but admits he is unsure of where his future lies.

"Newcastle is a club that belongs in the Premier League, so hopefully they will endure only one season in the Championship," he said.

"There are budgets in the Championship. I am sure the gaffer knows who cares about the club and who wants to stay.

"There is going to be a massive clear-out, but I haven't thought about my future that much."
The Republic of Island international has been at the club since 2006, moving from Premier League rivals Chelsea, and has made 68 Premier League appearances for the club, scoring four times.


Alan Shearer must rein in his contractual demands or, it is understood, Newcastle United will look elsewhere to appoint their manager.

It is believed that Shearer was close to agreeing a four-year deal to take over at St James' Park last week but unless he lowers his wage demands the club will look to an experienced manager to guide them out of the Championship next season.

Mike Ashley, the owner, values Shearer's popularity with the supporters but does not want to give a lucrative contract to an inexperienced manager, lacking in coaching qualifications, who failed to keep the club in the Premier League. According to insiders Shearer also wants to gain control of transfer decisions and has apparently demanded that chairman Derek Llambias take a less high profile role in the running of the club.

In his eight games in charge as interim manager, Shearer's side won one game, drew two and only scored four goals. But Shearer enjoyed being in charge and can count on the loyalty of the supporters who revered him as a player. That could confer a commercial benefit at the turnstiles, but balanced against that are Ashley's concerns that he might find it difficult to sell the club should Shearer and his management team sign lucrative contracts with control over transfer policy.

Newcastle need over the summer to cut dramatically their wage bill, which, according to the most recent figures, stands at £74 million. The squad is riddled with 'toxic assets', players on long contracts at wages in excess of £50,000 a week. Finding buyers willing to take on the wages of Damien Duff, Geremi and Alan Smith will prove exceedingly difficult in the financial climate.

With Michael Owen and Mark Viduka having finished their contracts and Obafemi Martins certain to leave, Shearer is already planning to recruit goalscorers for next season, with Leeds United's Jermaine Beckford a priority. Beckford is available for £2 million after contract talks with Leeds broke down. However, Shearer must negotiate his own terms before he can even begin overhauling the squad.