They have sown the PR seed, fed the roots and within a week have managed to split opinion and grow the story that Rafa is to blame for everything football related at NE1; from signings, missed opportunities, injuries, performances, the quality of the squad, players performance bonuses and possibly even the bag searches that some supporters will encounter as they enter the ground this season.
Meanwhile their client Mike Ashley is the victim; the man who has tried vainly for the last 10 years to bring success to Newcastle United but has failed because those whom he trusted were not up to the job. They mis advised him, they spent money on so called diamonds that turned to rust. They wasted the opportunities and money in droves. They let decent people down; decent managers who deserved better. Yes, their client takes the overall responsibility but, and here is the BUT; he was not in day-to-day control and therefore had little influence over how things developed over the years.
To anyone who has watched the goings on at Ashley’s sports clothing empire over the last few years this will seem like groundhog day. The same PR exercise has been used throughout the issues raised by trade unions, MP’s, former employers and investigative journalists regarding zero hours contracts, exploitative working practices, breaches around paying staff in warehouses below the minimum wage and serious concerns about the companies corporate governance.
In their own commissioned review, conducted by the City law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, Sports Direct admitted “serious shortcomings … in working practices”. In response Mike Ashley accepted that as founder and majority shareholder he “takes ultimate responsibility for any aspects of the working practices that were unsatisfactory, even where he is not in day-to-day control of these matters or had no knowledge of them”. Sound familiar?
So, make no mistake; in the world of Mike Ashley, his PR team are calling the shots. They dictate every word he utters, they manage every TV appearance, and they are now trying to focus the mind of supporters through carefully placed media stories that border on “fake news” that Mike Ashley is no villain, but more a poor exploited victim being stripped of his wealth and who cant afford to carry on without risking everything his amazing business acumen has built up. But they only have one hook and that is that it’s all someone else’s fault. Granted, Ashley is no Donald Trump, but nor is he Mother Theresa!
Our message to Newcastle United supporters is, don’t be fooled by the hype and to Rafa we ask; please stick with us!
Ashley’s days may be numbered and by all sticking together let's ensure that a Newcastle, United come out the winners.