Is Ashley Having A Laugh?
Apparently Ashley made the call to take the former Manchester United and England international to St James's Park, but the Mackems didn't take it seriously.
Sunderland boss Ricky Sbragia: "There was a cheeky inquiry, but it was never any more than that.
"Clubs are entitled to try it on if they want to."
Ashley brought an end to the transfer window ondeadline-day with a bid for Michael Johnson ... when he let his 'Ace in the Pack' Shay Given go a day earlier.
City took the Toon goalkeeper for a fee of around £8m, but Ashley's bid for Johnson (also £8m) was snubbed by the same club.
No matter how you look at it ... THAT is bad business! But he seems to be having more luck elsewhere.
The Toon boss visited a Manchester casino at the weekend with his entourage of bouncers and won £178,460 on the roulette wheel.