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Michael Chopra slams Mike Ashley as a ‘disgrace’ on talkSPORT and makes Newcastle United takeover claim


Mike Ashley does NOT want to sell Newcastle United, former Magpies striker Michael Chopra exclusively told talkSPORT.

Ashley, the under-fire owner who has reportedly been trying to shift the club from his ownership since last year, has found himself the target of increased criticism in recent weeks.

Newcastle fans have openly spoken out against the businessman since Rafa Benitez left his position as Magpies manager at the expiration of his contract, having failed to agree a new deal with St James’ Park chiefs.

Ashley reportedly wants to sell Newcastle after 12 years in charge – but Chopra is convinced otherwise
Getty – Contributor

The feeling of dismay has been emphasised amid rumours Benitez will be replaced by Steve Bruce, who has allegedly handed in his resignation to Sheffield Wednesday to force through a move to Tyneside.

The decision to appoint Bruce is seen by many as another cost-cutting exercise by Ashley, especially as the former Sunderland manager is set to become the lowest-paid head coach in the Premier League with a salary reportedly worth just £1million-a-year.

Ashley has been in talks with various parties who are interested in taking Newcastle off his hands 12 years after he bought the club from Sir John Hall and Freddy Shepherd.

However, he walked away from Amanda Staveley’s proposed takeover last year despite receiving three bids from the Yorkshire native, while an approach from a consortium led by Peter Kenyon, the former Chelsea and Manchester United chief executive, appears dead in the water.

And Chopra, a Newcastle local who came through the club’s academy and spent six years in the first-team, is convinced Ashley has no plans to actually sell the Magpies.

“What he’s done to that football club is a disgrace,” Chopra told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.

“From when he took over 12 years ago, the first couple of seasons you thought he’s going to put some money in to the club, but as it’s getting on he’s going against it.

“He knows the fans don’t like him, but he continues to upset them.

“They sell out games non-stop, but I think that is going to stop. I think [the fans] had enough.

“I honestly think the fans are putting their foot down are going to make a stand.

“You look at 2003 and you had 12,000 fans going to the San Siro, but in 2019 you’ve got 12,000 season tickets that haven’t been sold.

“It’s like a disease. Every year it’s getting worse and worse with Mike Ashley.

“And do I personally believe he wants to sell the club? I don’t think he wants to.”

Chopra, the former Newcastle striker, has explained an incident which left him convinced Ashley does not want to sell
Getty Images – Getty

When asked to explain his view, Chopra continued: “I’ll go back to the end of last year.

“I had a guy from Saudi Arabia who was very interested in the club. We spoke to Lee Charnley who put us in contact with Andrew Henderson, Mike Ashley’s lawyer, so we called him up and wanted the mandate from Henderson to speak to the guy in Saudi about buying the club.

“Andrew Henderson says, ‘if the Saudi guy is that interested, he’s got enough money, he’s a royal out there, so tell him to fly to London and see me’.

“So from that day it made me think, realistically, they don’t want to sell the club; they won’t give a mandate to somebody who has found someone who wants to buy the club.”

Chopra then suggested Newcastle are contenders for relegation this season due to the lack of investment in the playing squad.

Steve Bruce is due to take charge of Newcastle and become the lowest-paid manager in the Premier League
Getty Images – Getty

They have not brought in a single player so far despite the transfer window closing in less than a month, and have seen last season’s leading goalscorer, Ayoze Perez, depart for Leicester.

And Chopra doubts Ashley will use the £30million made from Perez’s sale to strengthen the Magpies before the end of the summer.

He added: “They are the only team in the Premier League who have not signed a player, so realistically they have a chance of going down.

“They are selling all their best players; Ayoze Perez went for £30million!

“But are they going to put that £30million back in the transfer kitty? I don’t think they will. I think Ashley will pocket it for himself and put it in all the high street businesses he’s got.

“So yes, there is a chance of Newcastle going down. And when you go down to the Championship now it is getting harder and harder to get back into the Premier League.”

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