... and even though Mark Viduka wanted to stay on Newcastle's books, he was told his £60,000-per-week 'rich pickings' were over.
Oba Martins and Damien Duff were two others picking up ridiculous wages, and Ashley was only too happy to let them go.
That leaves two players who have not produced the goods to justify their high wages - Joey Barton and Geremi.
But United boss Chris Hughton wants to hold on to Geremi during the January transfer window ... even though Ashley would 'take someone's hand off' if they offered to take him.
Hughton: “No, I won’t be open to offers for Geremi during January. What we have is a squad and Geremi is very much part of that even if he isn’t playing.
“I think to be honest, he’s been unlucky in that the form of Alan Smith and Kevin Nolan has been so good that he hasn’t really had a chance to play in the position which would be his favoured one.
“He would prefer to play central midfield but opportunities have been limited there and, touch wood, we have not had any injuries in that key area.
“The useful thing with Geremi is that he is getting games at international level and that is helping to keep him match fit in case we do need to use him.
“He understands that the form of Alan and Kevin has been so good that his opportunities have been limited.
“Geremi and Nicky Butt are too excellent options for us if that situation changes and I think it is important to have experienced players that you know can come in and do a job, because it is a long and tough season.”