Thursday, 3 December 2009

Not Every Successful Businessman Is Successful With PR

As a lifelong passionate Newcastle United fan I have been frustrated with the way the club has been run by owner, Mike Ashley. On 4th September, 2008, Newcastle United manager, Kevin Keegan resigned due to a falling out with Mike Ashley over signings that were being made by the club without Keegan’s permission.

Since then, the fans have showed their anger and frustration out on Mike Ashley, and as a result he has put the club on the market twice, with both attempts failing. What has frustrated me and all the other fans is that since Keegan’s resignation, communication between the owner and the fans has been almost none existent.

Mike Ashley hasn’t told the fans what is going on with the club and what his plans are to take the club forward. He is a successful billionaire businessman, although his public relations knowledge is very poor. It took the club 13 months to appoint a permanent manager since Keegan’s resignation, and in that time the fans were not told of any plans of who may become the manager.

Communication is vital in any football club, between the club and the fans, the club and the players, and the players and the fans. There was no communication with the players and the club either and this could have contributed to the players underperforming last season, which resulted in relegation.

When Keegan resigned he was claiming compensation on the ground of constructive dismissal, while Mike Ashley counter claimed for breach of contract. The Premier League arbitration panel concluded that Newcastle United should pay Keegan £2 million as in several publications it had been quoted that Keegan would have the last say on player transfers.

Mike Ashley was claiming that what was written in these publications about Keegan having the final say ‘were nothing more than an exercise in public relations carried out so as not to undermine Mr. Keegan's position.’ This annoyed many fans as Mike Ashley was openly admitting that he lied and misled the fans. This was very unethical of him and as a result none of the fans trust a word that he says. For many fans, this was the final straw, and at every Newcastle United match there are continuing protests by the fans to get the owner out of the club.

Maybe he should have done the MA Public Relations degree and none of this backlash from the fans would have happened!


  1. Good point Raj! The problem with Ashely is he was never a Newcastle fan so he didn't share the passion of the fans. Similar things have happened at my club, Luton Town. It has been run by people who don't care about the team. They ran it like a business and didn't care about what the fans felt. As a result we almost went bust and now play non-league football. As you say good PR is vital for any football club owner to keep the fans, who are the lifeblood, onside.

  2. I agree with you, a football club owner needs to share the passion of the fans and have the same understanding as them in order to communicate effectively with them. I wish we had a new owner! Then again, although our previous owner was better at communcating, he was far worse on the business side of things as he run the club on massive amounts of debt.