The major stumbling block for Chris Hughton bring in top class players is Ashley's reluctance to pay Premier League wages while the club is still in the Championship.
With a wage bill of more than £40m, Hughton knows the financial situation at the club remains a potentially precarious ... and the ideal position would be for some big-money backer to buy out Ashley NOW.
But that is not going to happen.
That decision by Ashley appears to be hampering Hughton's attempts to sign players this month.
Chris Hughton: “This club is going through a transitional period.
“We have gone down a division with players still earning Premier League wages, and that can not be sustained for years and years.
“It is where we are at the moment and, if we can continue doing what we are doing, then hopefully we will not have to sustain it in the Championship for too much longer.
“Hopefully, we can start talking about signing players on Premier League wages again. When we reached that pivotal period in the summer, and we were not really sure what was going to happen in terms of players coming and going, there was a decision to make.
“Thankfully, the decision was a lot of the players on big money would stay.
“The club could have pushed it the other way and decided to get rid of every big earner on the books, but they didn’t.
“The statement from the club was that we wanted to have a go and that in turn meant continuing to carry the massive wage bill we have.
“I would rather have the senior players in the squad and have to run a tight ship than have sold a lot more players in the summer but have a bit more money to spend.”
“Ultimately, it is the club’s decision.
“I wanted to keep everybody here. As temporary coach at the time, I would have been happy to have had Damien (Duff), Oba (Martins) and Habib (Beye) as well.
“I would have been happy to have kept every player in the squad, but that is from a coach and management point of view.
“The club have to make a decision of where they need to balance the books and they decided to keep enough of the senior players to allow us to be in the position we are today.”