Whichever viewpoint you take to be accurate, there is a general acknowledgment from both parties of the same fact – the Toon Army want rid of the controversial businessman.
Several times over the course of Ashley’s 12 year tenure as owner it has seemed as if they might get their wish, but arguably no saga has felt more likely, or hurt more acutely, than this summer’s association with the Bin Zayed Group.
Bursting out of nowhere, declaring that a deal was incredibly close, the Dubai-based consortium seemed to be exactly the kind of miraculous saviour that the Toon Army had been hoping for.
Instead, over the course of a summer that continued to disappoint time and time again, a deal never materialised, and hopes of a buyout fizzled out unspectacularly.
But that dalliance with an escape route from the Ashley regime has left a residual hope amongst fans that has proved hard to extinguish.
The latest update from Chronicle journalist Ciaran Kelly (12.44) might go a long way towards finally doing so, however
Writing in a Q&A for the outlet, he said: “I’ve always felt that when the takeover finally happens, there will be no rumblings about it – and the drawn-out Amanda Staveley, Peter Kenyon and Sheikh Khaled pursuits have driven that point home.
“Earlier this year, senior sources at the club felt Mike Ashley would be Newcastle’s owner in the ‘medium term’ and he confirmed in his most recent interview that he has a ‘new mental state’ where he could own the Magpies ‘forever’.
“Credible parties have genuinely looked at the club but, for me, as long as Newcastle United’s potential status in the Premier League is still up in the air – until safety is secured – that is going to make potential investors hold off a little.
“An end of season takeover would always be the likeliest scenario for me and while it seems the club have been up for a sale for a while, this kind of wait is nothing new.”
In short, a deal is still some way away, if there is one in the pipeline at all. Ashley shows no sign of relinquishing his power any time soon, and the chances are that there will be no movement prior to the end of the current campaign.
All in all, things are looking pretty dour, but if there is a silver lining, and at this stage it feels like you really have to be clutching at straws to find one, it is that a takeover, if and when it ever happens, is likely to be announced a moment’s notice.
In that respect, there could be a significant and unexpected breakthrough on any given day between now and when Ashley does actually leave.
Just don’t hold your breath for it being any time soon.