Samuel defends Ashley, attacks Corbyn

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The Daily Mail journalist Martin Samuel has defended Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launched an attack on the Magpies boss recently.

Corbyn criticised ‘billionaire owners’ like Mike Ashley for ruining football clubs, as per The Chronicle, last week, but Samuel has now hit back at the politician.

“He’ll meet a pressure group called Ashley Out and then have a pop at Mike Ashley. Not exactly taking chances, is he?,” he wrote in his Daily Mail column. “And he’s hardly smart enough to get that right. Corbyn’s attack on Ashley showed only the shallowest intellect or economic understanding.

“Corbyn had singled out Ashley as a bad owner before an appreciative audience. So far, so tame. But when it became necessary to know something of his subject, to have bothered with detail beyond populist banalities, his argument fell apart. Far from risking Newcastle’s financial security, the club under Ashley has made a profit before tax in seven of the last eight financial years.”


What Samuel is criticising Corbyn for, here, is targeting Newcastle’s finances, when they are the one thing that Ashley has kept a tight grip on. He might have done that by larger ignoring on-field performances and eschewing any sort of ambitious push out of mediocrity, but he has maintained a tight ship in terms of the club’s finances. So he does have a point, that’s perhaps not what Corbyn should have based his criticism of Ashley on. There are any number of things Corbyn could have used to launch a very effective and persuasive attack on Ashley for, but he got this one wrong. Still, you get the sense that Samuel saw Corbyn’s comments and rubbed his hands with glee. ‘Here’s my chance to have a pop at Corbyn under the thin guise of a footballing premise’, he must have thought. Clearly he’s not enamoured with the Labour leader’s politics, and has taken his wading into footballing debates as the perfect opportunity to give rise to his feelings about him.

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