x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Astute Mike Ashley has a nerve building Newcastle United the right way

Mike Ashley's rational thinking of running Newcastle United as a normal business is refreshing and their performances on the pitch shows.

Damn that Mike Ashley. How dare the colourful owner of Newcastle United seek to run his football club like a normal business.

How dare he not spend the eye-watering £35 million (Dh541,5m) the club received from Liverpool for Andy Carroll on a raft of expensive replacements.

I mean, what is he thinking building a competitive team by signing players under the age of 26 with a resale value and attempting to balance the books? You've got to spend, spend, spend, Mike.

He is, of course, thinking rationally, and applying the normal rules of business to the crazy world of football.

Whatever your viewpoint on Ashley - the thoughts of former managers Sam Allardyce, Kevin Keegan and some fans would probably not be suitable for this publication - he is unquestionably a shrewd entrepreneur with remarkable business acumen.

That is evidenced by the £950m it was reported earlier this year he had amassed from the retail sporting goods market.

It might not have been splashed on headline-grabbing transfer fees but Ashley has put his money where his mouth is.

He purchased for the club for £134.4m in 2007, and then injected another £110m to reduce the club's debt. He was also propping up Newcastle to the tune of £500,000 a week the season before last.

The list of top English clubs who have encountered serious financial problems is lengthy. Plymouth Argyle, Leeds United, Portsmouth, the names go on.

So if Ashley decides not to invest the money back into a loss-making business then why shouldn't he?

The same people imploring Ashley to splash the cash will be the same people ready to castigate him for overreaching should the marquee signings the fans and some members of the media demand.

And, anyway, forking out vast sums on transfer fees and wages brings no cast-iron guarantee of success.

What Newcastle have shown so far this year during their unbeaten start which has catapulted them up to the dizzy heights of fourth - and let's stress it is still very early days - is that, with the old values of good coaching, sensible recruiting and a good team spirit, it is possible to create a team capable of mixing it with the elite.

And how refreshing that is.

kaffleck@thenational.ae


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