Thank you to Peter Whitfield for this piece but we’d like to apologise to Lee Charnley, for upsetting him by examining what is going on at United and who is up to what. It is our belief substantial sums are being leeched out of Newcastle United by Ashley and the people who work for him. We don’t allege any illegal behaviour but we do question how this works for our football club and challenge the motives and ethics of Ashley. 

Two of the 218 companies that Mike Ashley is (or has been) a director of have an interesting history and are perfect examples of how little this man cares for our great football club.

While analysing the many links that Ashley has I came across a company strangely entitled “PROJECT J NEWCO No.39” which in turn lead me to NEWCO No.40 both of which have a significant link to Newcastle United. 

Both were incorporated on 4th March 2009, both had two directors in David Michael Forsey and Robert Frank Mellors with the Shirebrook address. Each company consists of one £1 share which was owned by “PROJECT J HOLDING COMPANY LTD”. Exactly one year to the day later and that share was transferred to St James Holdings Limited. Both companies filed their first full accounts on 1st April 2011 (an ironic date) and this is where things get interesting.

Under Section 8 (Related Party Transactions) No.39 shows: “During the period the company acquired a long leasehold property from Newcastle United Football Company Ltd…for a consideration of £500,000. This amount remains outstanding at 30 June 2010”.

No.40 meanwhile contains a very similar wording: “During the period the company acquired a freehold site from Newcastle United Football Company Ltd…for a consideration of £500,000. This amount remains outstanding at 30 June 2010”.

There is nothing that I can find to say what land/property these relate to, there’s no specifics in the accounts or any other filed documents. I do know that neither are Strawberry Place, that has it’s own unique story.  So two companies related to Ashley bought property/land from Newcastle United for a total of £1m but didn’t pay the club straight away. Chances are though that was just down to the timing of the accounts and the repayment will be in the next years accounts….won’t they?

Erm well actually…In the accounts for years ending 2011, 2012 and 2013 No.39 states (under Section 5 (Creditors: amounts falling due within one year)) “Amounts owed to Newcastle United Limited £500,000”. In 2014 however the property was sold (appears to be for £500k) and the debt to NUFC is now shown as £50,000 so it appears that £450,000 was repaid (4 years late) however I am unable to see how it could have been repaid, No.39 had not yet received any payment itself or any other income so where did the cash come from? My personal belief is that it was not repaid but simply transferred to the buying company as their debt (or even potentially written off).

The £50k still exists in the 2015 and 2016 accounts, finally disappearing in 2017. In those accounts however, there is another para that needs to be highlighted. The heading Fundamental accounting concept includes the following: “The Directors have also received a commitment from its related undertaking, Newcastle United Football Company Limited, that they will continue to provide the company with financial support so that it can meet its debts as they fall due for a period of at least 12 months from the date of approval of these financial statements”.

Based on the fact No.39 does no trading and only has one debt which is to United then does this simply mean that we have agreed not to call the debt in? or does it mean we will support them with loans, cash etc when needed?

No.40 is slightly different, their accounts also show the £500,000 being owed to Newcastle United in 2011 and 2012 but in 2013 that amount has increased to £530,000 however the sting with 40 is that in the same year they sold the previously “purchased” land for £1,602,052 the Balance Sheet now showing a lovely fat £817,441 (after Corporation Tax) being available as “Shareholders funds”. This is probably a good time to also point out that on 14 January 2014 a certain Michael James Wallace Ashley was appointed director.

2014 & 2015’s accounts came and went and still the amounts were owing to the club however the additional £30k that appeared in 2013 disappeared in 2015 (it was nice while it lasted!) No.40’s accounts for 2016 didn’t show any amounts owing to NUFC, instead it recorded the £500k as being “Amounts due to group undertaking”, whether that means NUFC or the overall MASH holdings group we may never know but personally I think it’s likely to be the latter.

In 2017 there was no longer a debt, whether that means it was paid, written off or what, is unclear but No.40 no longer owes anyone, they also,interestingly show that there was an error in previous accounts and a directors loan account which was overdrawn to the tune of £394,263 had not been recorded. Basically Mike Ashley had taken that amount from the company against the future dividends (something, I should add he is perfectly entitled to do).

In short, we have two companies who were set up with the sole aim of purchasing Newcastle United assets to then sell on. In the case of No.40 that was for 3 times the original purchase price. Money that should have been United’s was now Ashley’s. In both cases however, strange accounting practices such as changing who the debt is owed to etc mean it’s very difficult to actually see if United have ever physically received recompense for these assets at all.

This is not a man who has saved a football club, this is a man who has systematically stripped our club of assets, at best paying below the odds for them but more than likely never having paid for them at all.

That ladies and gentlemen is our great benefactor Mr Michael JW Ashley.

PETER WHITFIELD