As a child, Charles Dickens’ a Christmas Carol was a once a year read leading up to the festive season. First given the book as a young and timid eight year old by my father, who himself had been introduced to Dickens by his grandfather the story set the tone in the build up to Christmas. The family coming together, the anticipation as Christmas got closer and you really did wonder if your wishes for a bike, a meccano set and the most up to date Guinness Book of Records had been heard or was the threat of a Satsuma in the bottom of a sock really going to materialise. It hadn’t in any previous Christmas so why should this year be any different. I loved the book; there was something about it that had me hooked and most years since I have read it with the same childlike enthusiasm as I did back as an eight year old in the late 60’s.
I’m sure most people are familiar with the story of a Christmas Carol but for the odd one or two who aren’t, I will fill you in.
Stingy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge is known as the meanest miser in Victorian London. He overworks and underpays his humble clerk, Bob Cratchit, whose little son, Tiny Tim, is crippled and may soon die. He also has nothing to do with his nephew, Fred, because his birth cost the life of his beloved sister. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge has a haunting nightmare from being visited by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley. He is visited by three ghosts and is given one last chance to change his ways and save himself from the grim fate that befell Marley.
Roll on 50 years and as I head towards my 58th birthday in a couple of weeks and building up towards the Christmas festivities wondering whether I should dig out my copy of said book or simply refer to the on-going saga that is playing out in the press regarding the sale of our beloved club by our very own scrooge, Mike Ashley. Indeed, the nearer we get to the football equivalent of Christmas that is the January transfer window, the more I feel that perhaps A Christmas Carol was also Mike Ashley’s favourite book as a child. However I suspect he got bored with it before Marley’s ghost led Ebenezer into the world of Christmas yet to come!
As the sale of the club is played out in the press, the lack of any firm response on the supposed offers placed at his door by PCP Capital Partners leaves me, like many other supporters wondering just what is going on; or in reading terms, which chapter of A Christmas Carol is our own Ebenezer Ashley up to.
Is he in the past; looking back at what he bought back in 2007; realising that its worth has been undermined by his own inadequacies and those of the people he has put in positions of power to run the club by the frugal measures that he himself imposed.
Is he looking at the present; where a fair and reasonable offer has been made for the football club that he himself states he no longer wants. Perhaps he is doing his own due diligence on PCP Capital Partners and their intentions for the club; hoping like most supporters that PCP will be able to take the club forward in a way that he failed to do. Perhaps he just needs that reassurance before sanctioning the sale. If that synopsis is correct, them I’m sure a quick call to Ms Staveley will put his mind at rest.
Or Is he looking at his own vision of the future yet to come. Unimpressed by the offer he received from PCP Capital Partners he will be seeing himself crying over the grave of a once proud club, back languishing in the reaches of the Championship for the third time under his tenure simply because he held out in the hope of more money. He will be seeing how he used PCP Capital Partners bid as some kind of stalking horse to drive out the mythical “other interested parties” that his advisors are whispering into his ear about; hoping they can start some kind of bidding war; only to find that they were the only show in town and without them he and his club were doomed; its supporters deserting the club in droves; his manager and coaching staff betrayed and off to pastures new. Dreams shattered and the rest of the football world rejoicing in twinning of Newcastle Utd and Sunderland as the basket cases of English football.
If it is the latter, then he is treating Newcastle supporters as his own Bob Cratchit; treating them with utter distain, showing his cold-heartedness toward others by refusing to make a monetary donation for the good of the poor, declaring in Scrooge-like fashion that their club is better off dead, and in his own way reducing the club to be the “surplus population” of, in this case, the Premier League.
It’s not too late for him to repent; give Newcastle fans their turkey with all the trimmings for Christmas and walk away with cash in his pockets to a chorus of, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” from the whole of Tyneside.
Accept the offer Mike. You know it makes sense!