It’s hard to think of a more unpopular man in English football than Mike Ashley.
Maybe that’s because there isn’t one.
The Newcastle United owner has spent 12 years at the helm on Tyneside, and has systematically gone about turning the Magpies into relegation fodder at the foot of the Premier League through a combination of conservative spending and asset-stripping from the talent in his playing staff.
It is little wonder that the fans want him out, and not before time, but there has always been a perception that while the club continues to make him money, there is no reason for him to sell.
Based on that fact alone, boycotts are being touted for the new season, but whether the Toon Army are able to face up to the reality of not going to watch their beloved club every week remains to be seen.
Throughout all of this frustration, Ashely has seemingly been intent on hanging on for grim death, like a barnacle stuck to the hull of a sinking ship.
But now, after his latest admission to the Daily Mail, even he must realise that it is time to go.
As quoted in an exclusive interview, he said: “It is so much bigger than when I got involved. I thought at the time I could put in £10m, £20m and it would make a big difference. And it would have done. Now – it’s nothing.
“Put in £10m and it’s a joke. OK, that’s how the market is. But it’s not something I can afford, and it’s not something Newcastle can afford while I own it. The over-riding reality is that I am just not wealthy enough to own Newcastle.
“I genuinely believe you need £1billion. People say £500m but I’d bet anyone that these days you can’t do it for that. Not to compete at the very top.”
First of all, it should be pointed out that Newcastle fans don’t want to compete at the very top. Nobody is asking for Premier League titles or Champions League football, just some pride and respectability in their efforts.
Secondly, and more importantly, this is a concession straight from the horse’s mouth that he doesn’t have what it takes to provide that for the club.
Either Ashley lacks any shred of self-awareness or he is being wilfully ignorant at this point.
He has to sell up, pronto.