Former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is reportedly keen to get straight back into football and has been linked with a move to buy struggling Derby County.
Ashley finally ended his 14-year ownership of the Magpies earlier this week. He sold the Tyneside outfit to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund for £305m. The deal has been welcomed by Newcastle supporters but questioned by opponents of the Middle East nation.
Nevertheless, it seems a win-win situation, with Newcastle now cash rich and Ashley out of the picture. The 57-year-old was never a popular figure at St James’ Park.
His refusal to invest in new players meant Premier League survival was the limit of the club’s ambitions most seasons. Successive managers have had to work on a shoestring budget compared to their top-flight rivals.
And relegation to League One seems on the cards unless Wayne Rooney can pull a rabbit out of the hat. A few names have been mentioned as possible club saviours.
Former Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans is among a group of interested parties keen to buy the Rams, according to The Sun. And Burton Albion chief executive Jez Moxey is another man with designs on the Derbyshire outfit.
The Mirror have revealed that Ashley has now entered the picture despite his tortuous reign at Newcastle. Ashley’s Sports Direct headquarters is just 30 miles from Pride Park and so the move makes sense logistically.
Derby need miracle to survive
Derby finished 21st in the Championship standings last season, narrowly avoiding relegation. They had struggled early on in 2021-2022 before the bombshell of administration.
Rooney’s charges had won just two of their first eight games, with four draws also on their record. They would now be in mid table but for the sanctions and sit bottom of the table with just two points to their name.
There is already a seven-point gap to safety and it looks set to be a tough season for the long-suffering fans. But it is open to question how they will feel if Ashley is the man who takes them out of administration.
His Newcastle tenure created a huge divide between fans and board. And, with the current situation at Pride Park, that is the last thing they will want to see at Derby.