By Chris Wright
Between syphoning the very soul out of his football club, removing all trace of ambition and/or generally running the thing like one of his ubiquitous sportswear jumble sales, it’s becoming increasingly difficult – some may argue impossible – to find anything to like about Mike Ashley.
Indeed, the Newcastle owner’s latest charm offensive is slap, bang, true to form.
In the process of clearing some room on the mantelpiece, Newcastle have rifled home yet another PR own-goal after being found dumping loads of photographs of Sir Bobby Robson’s popular 2001/2002 team in a skip outside St James’ Park…
— The Chronicle (@EveningChron) April 15, 2015
The photos were discovered by the local Chronicle newspaper, who have been banned from the stadium by Ashley in the past for having the gall to criticise his ownership.
“Sir Bobby, flanked by his star players Alan Shearer and Gary Speed are shown standing proudly in their squad line-up photo – but the image has been removed from the walls of St James’ Park,” the Chronicle reported.
“Alongside around 30 other framed photographs, the team picture now lies discarded in a skip, alongside grass cuttings and building materials.”
The photos had apparently been taken down from the walls of the corporate boxes at St James’ Park after having been replaced by newer, more up to date images of the team.
The unceremonious manner in which the images had been discarded has already caused consternation among Toon fans, with many querying why the club couldn’t have auctioned them off for charity instead of just hurling them in the bins outside.
Steve Wraith, of NUFC Fans United said:
“They could have auctioned them for charity, but just to put these things in the bin is awful. Now fans are talking about going and helping themselves.
“They are pictures of club legends. I don’t think the club want people to be reminded of a time when they were doing well because they are doing so badly at the moment.”
Newcastle’s 2001/02 vintage finished fourth in the Premier League and then third the season after. The club have not enjoyed anywhere near those levels of success since.
Perhaps the photos served as a grim reminder to Ashley of the bad old days, when they weren’t enjoying 150% mark-ups on cheapo Ligue 1 imports.