Ashley reveals Newcastle had £100m debt

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The Independent Football

Mike Ashley, the new owner of Newcastle United, has spoken publicly for the first time. Often portrayed as a recluse, Ashley took the opportunity to quash the recurring stories that Newcastle are for sale.

"I didn't buy Newcastle United to sell it," he said yesterday. "The club is not for sale, selling is just not on the agenda. Yes, there have been plenty of people suggesting they want to buy the club off me already and the answer is always the same: 'No'.

"I bought this club to become part of its passion and it has worked. I feel at home here already. I love the place, the club and especially the fans, who wouldn't?"

Ashley revealed that the debt he inherited at Newcastle was £100m but said that the speed of the purchase meant: "There was no time to do the usual due diligence on the deal because I had to move so quickly.

"So I paid £140m for the club with the expectation that there was a debt of £70m. Actually it was around £100m so there was suddenly an extra £30m to find. But I just thought: 'Shut up about it'. I'm a big boy and I didn't cry.

"To me the real issue was this: Was the debt bigger than I thought? Yes. Would I have changed my mind if I'd known the full extent of the debt? Not one iota.

"It might have been a different story if I had needed to go to the bank to borrow the money but I didn't. I have my own money and anyway, I tend to live by the saying you can't take it with you."

Newcastle host Tottenham Hotspur at home tonight and manager Sam Allardyce has also received some good news from Michael Owen, who yesterday played down talk of a rift between himself and Allardyce.

Allardyce thinks Tottenham have bottomed out after draws with Aston Villa and Liverpool and showed sympathy towards Martin Jol. "He was in a black hole but there is light at the end of the tunnel now."

Spurs will be without Paul Robinson in goal, Newcastle are awaiting news on Mark Viduka's fitness.