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Ashley putting Newcastle up for sale
Martyn Herman | September 15, 2008 11:12 IST
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley said on Sunday he had put the Premier League club up for sale after falling foul of the fans following coach Kevin Keegan's resignation.
Ashley was absent from Saturday's 2-1 home defeat by relegation favourites Hull City when Newcastle fans protested before, during and after the match about his running of the club and the manner of Keegan's departure.
"I am now a dad who can't take his kids to a football match on Saturday because I am advised that we would be assaulted," Ashley said in a long letter to fans on the club's website (www.nufc.premiumtv.co.uk).
"Therefore I am no longer prepared to subsidize Newcastle United. I am putting the club up for sale."
Fans' hero Keegan resigned on September 4, just eight months after returning for a second spell as manager, saying he did not have full control over the buying and selling of players.
Since then fans have vented their fury on millionaire sportswear tycoon Ashley and director of football Dennis Wise who was recruited by Ashley shortly after Keegan returned to Tyneside in January.
Ashley completed his 134 million pounds takeover of the club in July, 2007, and has since become well-known for wearing a replica shirt and sitting with fans during the club's matches.
However, the relationship with the fans has deteriorated rapidly since Keegan's sudden exit with the club's internal wranglings being played out in the media spotlight.
Ashley used his letter to defend his running of the club which he said faced going broke before he arrived.
"I paid 134 million pounds out of my own pocket to buy the club and then poured in another 110 million not to pay off the debt but to reduce it," he said.
"Unless I had come in to the club it might not have been saved. It could have shared the same fate as other clubs who borrowed too heavily against its future.
"I was always prepared to bankroll Newcastle up to the tune of 20 million pounds per year but no more. That was my bargain. I would make the club solvent, I would make it a going concern.
"I did not buy Newcastle to make money, I bought Newcastle because I love football.
"I have listened to you. You want me out. That is what I'm trying to do but it won't happen overnight and it may not happen at all if a buyer doesn't come in," added Ashley.
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