Newcastle United have some serious momentum heading into next season, with the club’s tenth-placed finish in the Premier League bringing levels of jubilance to Tyneside that have not been seen in years.
However, if the latest report is to be believed, then all this progress is under threat of being totally undone this summer, and the usual suspect is behind it all.
The newspaper claim that this latest manoeuvre from the Sports Direct tycoon has effectively taken the club off the market, with no sane investor willing to splash that much cash.
The Sun go further in saying that the move may jeopardise Rafa Benitez’s future at the club, with the Spaniard demanding heavy backing in the transfer window.
While there has never been any question about Ashley’s intentions with Newcastle, this latest move still comes as a surprise, and it is one that is threatening to destroy all the progress that has been made in the past two seasons.
If Benitez is not backed this summer he may well walk away from the club he has grown to love so much, and Newcastle will be left in limbo.
There is no manager in the world who could come in and do as good a job as Benitez has done with this squad, and the Magpies would surely be plunged back into the relegation picture next term if he leaves.
If Ashley still owns the club when that happens, then he is also threatening to press self-destruct on the profit-making machine that the club is at the moment.
Ashley needs to realise this as soon as possible and either sell up for a reasonable price or back Benitez this summer, with the possibilities endless for the club if that happens.