AshleyOut.com specifically targets the removal of Mike Ashley from Newcastle United, so that we, as a fan base can have a renewed faith in a club that was once respected as a focal point of a region, and most importantly, ours.
However, despite the many examples of mismanagement, and contempt shown towards the spiritual owners of the club, Ashley’s wrong-doings extend to employees and customers alike in other aspects of his business ventures.
In 2015, substantial evidence uncovered the working practices of Ashley’s primary concern Sports Direct. Channel 4’s documentary ‘The Secrets of Sports Direct’ showed us footage of the working conditions that staff experience. In this documentary, we learned of zero-hour contracts, over-zealous monitoring of staff and their timekeeping and something we, as fans of Newcastle United can relate to the deceiving of their customers. This didn’t go unnoticed amongst the national media and was discussed in the days that followed.
However, understandably, this was swept under the carpet, as other national issues came to light. Just like at Newcastle, when negative attention is drawn to him and his ownership of the club the next fixture arrives and once again, focus is diverted to the football.
Conveniently for Ashley, he has plenty of ‘shields’ in the business of football that regularly deflect attention away from him. We’ve seen a whole host of them; Llambias, Charnley, Wise, Carr, Pardew, Carver and McClaren, and the buck doesn’t stop there players always becoming targets when results don’t go right. On the other hand, he has far fewer who will be held responsible in the world of retail.
His pawns are on the frontline and have been taking all the flack, away from the eyes of the general public. Zero-hour contracts with no job stability; no commitments from the company that they can plan their next holiday, take their partner out to the pictures, or even provide a meal for their family. Subsequently they resign to the notion that they, as individuals have no power.
Such is Mike Ashley’s stake hold, that he is correctly held accountable for the practices and policies adopted by the entirety of the board and the resulting employees at each distribution centre or store. Subsequently, this has made for even more negative press in recent days by the media.
On Friday 8th January, we learned of reduced sales for the Christmas period and a profit warning being issued by Sports Direct. This was documented in The Guardian and also The Evening Standard.
Meanwhile, stock prices plummeted as is shown in the graph below:
Then to compound issues even further it was documented by The Guardian once again, of a couple who had been arrested under slavery charges following allegations of trafficking people to work for the sports retail giant. No doubt further impacting the share price and causing it to plummet even further. The Telegraph then went on to highlight how the hedge fund manager, Crispin Odey, had reduced his share hold in the company, with him stating that he had ‘seen the writing on the wall’.
Moving into Saturday 9th January and once again Sports Direct was the hot topic in UK business with The Guardian reporting that Ashley was set to be sued after a dispute with a banker whom he’d had a bet with, regarding the share price of the company. This article was based on claims that The Times had seen the court documents. The Independent also reported an estimated loss of £1billion for the infamous owner.
It would seem that the media and MP’s are finally turning the screw on this ‘monster of a man’ and his business ventures, and the screw needs turned tighter by the Newcastle United fan base. Again, we find ourselves flirting with relegation as we enter the second half of our season. The board, the staff and the players all continue to change but the mentality that stability is enough, and is all we should aspire to, has become the core value at St James’, all to enable Ashley to make a quick quid.
Ultimately, he is not a fit and proper person to have condoned such working practices, he is not a fit and proper person to deal with and he is not a fit and proper person for our club.
So let’s act now and force #AshleyOut.