Will The Real Mike Ashley Please Stand Up?

Timing, they say, is everything, and if there is anything to this, then Mike Ashley might just be considered a genius on a par with Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. After all, with a team that had slipped into a Champions League place whilst barely disturbing the radar of the press, there was a real danger that some degree of harmony may break out at Newcastle United. St James Park is one of the Premier League’s perennial potential flashpoints, a thirty-eighth parallel at which the weapons are bed spreads and spray cans, and a placeĀ at which a sense of detente had, of late, come to be in the air. With the immaculately provocative flourish of a matador, though, Ashley has lifted the red rag again and waved it in the face of the supporters of the club that he owns. The disquiet is, of course, nothing to do with what is going on regarding the teams performance on the pitch at the moment. Alan Pardew’s team may not be the most aesthetically pleasing to watch in the Premier League at the moment, but it has been grinding out result after result and has outperformed the pre-season expectations of even the most myopic of Newcastle supporters. The cause of this disquiet is Ashley’s decision to rename St James Park as “The Sports Direct Arena”. It is a naming rights decision...

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