MIKE ASHLEY denies any interest in buying Coventry – but despite his firm disapproval, many still remain suspicious of his motives since his company bought the stadium where the club play.
Newcastle supporters are sending discouraging news about him to West Midlands colleagues after Ashley’s 13-year tenure of NUFC until October 2021 turned sour.
Sad after everything started so well when fans initially rejoiced at his acquisition – a fantastically wealthy, successful, beer-drinking Englishman who promised to bring Tyneside back its glory days, who then appointed club legend Kevin Keegan as manager.
That relationship also ended in tears when King Kev left after winning £2million in damages for the way he was treated as a manager at the club.
Numerous other bosses then came and went, and by the end of his tenure, NUFC supporters would have preferred Steptoe and Son to Ashley.
Billionaire Ashley has reportedly been keen on Rangers and Derby County since leaving the North East – and adding Coventry to his Frasers Group portfolio makes perfect sense should he be able to overcome several obstacles.
The most thorny of these is Doug King, a businessman on the verge of acquiring 85 per cent of Sky Blues and accepting ownership from the EFL.
Obviously, King wants the team to play in the stadium, which has had more features than the dashboard of a Rolls-Royce since it was built to replace Highfield Road in 2005.
Among them are a huge mall; an indoor arena where the Stones, Springsteen and even the Spice Girls have performed; an exhibition center, a venue for netball, snooker, two hotels and a casino.
Then, of course, it was the Wasps’ short-lived home until they went broke.
The club that bore the brunt of the stadium’s troubled past could well call themselves the Coventry Refugees.
Twice it had to leave the historic city as unlucky as Lady Godiva, who, according to legend, rode naked through the streets.
Once a veteran player in what was then the First Division, they beat Spurs 3-2 in a thrilling FA Cup final in 1987, staying in the Premier League until 2001 and then going into free fall.
The new stadium – with a capacity of 32,000 – should have housed a more or less content crowd of Coventrians.
No such luck. The club was relegated twice, resulting in seasons at Northampton and Birmingham.
The faithful clung to them and were rewarded with promotion from the second tier to the Championship where Mark Robins, five seasons into a second stint as manager, has taken them from a poor start to a challenging position at the moment.
Now Ashley has moved with the usual precision of a chess master, telling the club they can no longer play at his stadium.
This seems like a ruse, but King must play a defensive piece from a negative position, while recognizing that few can ever defeat Ashley.
King may wish he could also protest by riding naked through city streets – although temporary relief is at hand.
Frasers have offered a new deal which will no doubt be negotiable but there is little doubt either King will have to accept a major cut in revenue from the stadium if they are to continue playing there.
There’s something martial about Ashley’s tactics.
He sent his advanced troops on a surprise takeover, then launched drones to bombard the club’s earnings to give them a huge advantage in further negotiations.
Like it or not, he’s a dealmaker and usually gets what he wants.
A great wheeler dealer, with an uncanny ability to turn turkeys into low carat golden apples, he will surely succeed in the cheap ballpark.
But will Sky Blues fans be happier?
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6883967/karren-brady-mike-ashley-newcastle-coventry/ Mike Ashley’s martial tactics usually get him what he wants…can Coventry rise from the ashes of this latest saga?