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'YO-YO CLUB'

Rio Ferdinand’s take on Mike Ashley’s Newcastle ownership is totally indefensible

The BT Sport pundit passionately defended the Magpies owner following the club's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea

You can buy Rio Ferdinand’s clothing line from Sports Direct — did you know?

I only ask because the former England international launched a passionate defence of Mike Ashley on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking on BT Sport before Newcastle’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Ferdinand questioned the long-standing criticism of the Magpies owner.

“What’s the problem?” Ferdinand asked. “He wants to sell the club. Why should be spend millions and millions of pounds?”

The ex-Man United defender also described Newcastle as a ‘yo-yo’ club, putting forward this status as a justifiable reason for Ashley withholding funds.

However, these excuses don’t hold up under closer inspection.

For starters, Newcastle have featured in 24 of the 27 seasons since the Premier League’s inception — more than Man City.

They’ve finished in the top six eight times since 1993/94, compared to two relegations.

Both Premier League relegations have come under Ashley’s ownership

PA:Press Association
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Both Premier League relegations have come under Ashley’s ownership

Neighbours Sunderland have been relegated from the top flight more than any other team in English football history, but Newcastle don’t feature in the top 15 in the same metric.

Yo-yo club? Hardly.

And actually, even if they were a yo-yo club, would that be an excuse?

Brighton and Huddersfield were promoted alongside Newcastle in 2016/17 — the Seagulls have spent £100million on transfers since, while the Terriers have invested in £72million in new players.

Newcastle’s spending in the same time? £6million.

Where’s the money?

EPA
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Where’s the money?

Ferdinand’s point about Ashley’s willingness to sell the club resulting in a lack of spending also lacks validity, because the fans’ frustrations pre-dates Ashley putting the club up for sale.

Michael Owen’s switch from Real Madrid for £16million in 2005 remains Newcastle’s all-time record signing.

Bear in mind Bournemouth just paid £19million for Dominic Solanke, a 21-year-old with one goal in English football to his name.

Ferdinand also claimed Ashley spent £50million of his own money when Newcastle were in the Championship, but they recouped more than that from the sales of Moussa Sissoko, Gini Wijnaldum and Andros Townsend alone.

By any measure, Ashley has starved a club with massive potential of suitable investment.

Patience has worn thin

PA:Press Association
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Patience has worn thin

He has made life as hard as possible for Rafa Benitez, who has done a superb job with limited resources.

Given a half competent owner who has the club’s best interests at heart, Newcastle could quite easily be challenging for European football.

As it is, the fans feel as though their beloved club is being held hostage by a greedy tyrant, whose £300million asking price is proving difficult for potential buyers to justify.

If I was lifelong fan of Newcastle, I would have viewed Ferdinand’s comments as a betrayal — you’d hope everyone in football would sympathise.

And then there’s Richard Keys’ shambolic take…

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Exasperating, isn’t it?


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