Exclusive: Mike Ashley ready to sell Newcastle – for £267m

Owner is facing renewed calls in the North-east to end his six-years in charge at St James' Park

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley will only leave the club if he recoups all of the money he has spent since his take-over six years ago.

Recent figures released by Deloitte showed that the debt owed by the club to the Sports Direct owner stood at £267 million and that is around the figure it will take to end his controversial reign at St James' Park.

Ashley is facing renewed calls in the North-east to end his six-years in charge at St James' Park following the latest area of controversy, the appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football.

A combined Newcastle supporters' group meeting on Monday night attracted around 400 fans and a statement was released yesterday that called for the Sports Direct billionaire to “consider his position as owner of Newcastle United.”

Ashley launched his bid to take full control of the club back in May 2007 when he bought the shareholding of the Hall family for £55 million. He later acquired the shares of then chairman Freddy Shepherd and by July of that year had full control. It is reckoned to have cost him £134 million to take over but there were hidden debts that Ashley had not reckoned on, having failed to undertake due diligence as he made his move to buy the club.

It is believed that Ashley had to spend more than £100 million clearing out debts left on player purchase and a loan to redevelop the stadium which had to be repaid if the Hall family left the club.

The cost of relegation from the Premier League is thought to have cost another £30 million in interest free loans made by Ashley to fund an annual wage bill in excess of £40 million that gained immediate promotion from the Championship.

Figures released by Newcastle during their last set of accounts showed that at the end of the financial year 2011/12, the owner loans from Ashley to Newcastle stood at £129 million, having been reduced from the high of £140 million in 2010/11.

Figures released in the 22nd edition of the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance 2013 on June 5, showed that the Premier League club's net debt of £1.4 million included interest free soft loans from owners with Chelsea (£895 million) and Newcastle United (£267 million) the top two.

The club has worked hard under Ashley to re-establish the levels of turnover the club was experiencing when he took over. In 2011/12 that was £93 million with the key wage to turnover ratio at 69 per cent (before they bought five players in January).

However his ownership has been beset by controversy, from the departure of Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer to the appointment of Kinnear (twice), to relegation, the attempted renaming of St James' Park and a four-year sponsorship deal with Wonga.

This latest voicing of anger from supporters seems the most concerted yet and there have been calls for a boycott of the pre-season friendly with SC Braga.

I understand that Ashley is willing to sell Newcastle but he wants his expenditure covered in full, meaning it will take around a quarter of a billion pounds for the club to change ownership.

The purchase of Manchester City by the Abu Dhabi United Group cost them a reported £200 million in 2008 and Liverpool were bought by the Fenway Sports Group in 2010 for £300 million.

A statement released by the Newcastle supporters groups who met at the city's Labour Club on Monday night, when Kinnear, who was invited but could not attend, said: “This house declares that Mike Ashley is not a fit and proper custodian of a footballing institution that has a proud history and tradition, and enjoys one of the biggest and most fervent followings in European football.

”We call for Mike Ashley to consider his position as owner of Newcastle United and to begin a process of exiting before he does any more damage to either the club or his own reputation.“

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor