I've been kicking this thought around for a few weeks now.... I think that Mike Ashley is playing a very clever PR game. It occurred to me at the mackem game and I've been mulling it over ever since. When he first arrived he was supposed to be this recluse (see Britain's answer to the late Howard Hughes. ) that would hardly be seen at the matches and wanted to stay out of the limelight. Well, he's not done that has he?
Firstly there was the wearing of the Toon top (with Alan Smith's name and number on - no pressure there then, Alan), followed up by stories about him going out on the lash and buying the whole of the pub a drink, and then the ultimate 'man of the people' move, joining the 'ordinary' Toon fans in the away end at the Stadium of Plight. I was so moved by this that I ventured that I'd happily marry him and bear his children after this (not likely for reasons far to numerous to mention...) And then I started thinking....
He's certainly a breath of fresh air after the attention seeking, self aggrandizing bucket of lard that was our previous chairman. He's endeared himself to the Toon army in the past few months in a way that Fat Fred and his sycophants never would have dreamed of - he's shown an understanding and tapped into the psyche of the Newcastle fan base beyond the comprehension of any of the previous owners of the club. So that's how... perhaps the most important question is why?
The cynic in me says its helps shift shirts... Shirts that are for sale in his sports shops up and down the country. After all we are the 3rd best supported club in England - and us barcodes like to buy a lot of shirts. However, I think its more than just that. Could it be that Mr Ashley is doing his market research? What better way to hear about your punters views than by listening to what is said in the pubs and on the terraces (well almost)?? Its a great way to do market research. Interesting when you think about it and also startlingly obvious.
But the thing that makes it work so well - is the lack of contact that he gives the media... What does he sound like? I've no idea, might be David Beckham or maybe Sean Connery. I'm happy not knowing. It all helps preserve his mystique - and long may it continue