Mike Ashley openly joked about his unpopularity amongst Newcastle United fans with Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, according to The Athletic journalist Daniel Taylor.
The duo have both become figures of disdain amongst their respective fanbases, and controversial Sports Direct owner Ashley was quick to address the elephant in the room when the two met.
Writing in a piece for The Athletic, Taylor said: “Mike Ashley, the owner of Newcastle United, had his hand outstretched and a grin on his face. Manchester United were in town and Ed Woodward, the club’s executive vice-chairman, had just appeared in the boardroom of St James’ Park. Ashley went over to greet him and his opening line was probably an accurate reflection of the state of the two clubs.
“‘The most unpopular man in football meets the second most unpopular man in football,’ he said.
“At least Woodward could see the funny side.”
It’s nice to see that Ashley is able to take his unpopularity in such good humour, because lord knows that Newcastle fans can’t. While he laughs and jokes and continues to allow their club to stagnate under his stewardship, supporters have been left tearing their hair out at the sheer uselessness of his tenure. The fact that Ashley is aware of how disliked he is and has made no effort to make any kind of amends for his actions speaks volumes about the way that he views the Toon Army loyalists. What is more, the sad reality is that he doesn’t have to go anywhere if he doesn’t want to. The club is his to sell, he’s still making money off it, and evidently he is unfazed by criticism by fans. This could be a long and frustrating saga for the Magpies.