Shepherd Hits Out At 'Pathetic' Ashley!
Freddy Shepherd (talking to the Sunday Sun): "They (the current board) are trying to camouflage the problems they have created and distance blame from themselves with a pathetic PR campaign.
"Newcastle bought England's top striker without borrowing from the bank or being landed with any interest charges. The fact we paid up front was the factor that allowed us to win the Owen race.
"It was a gilt-edged deal from a financial perspective even if the injuries that have blighted Owen's time at Newcastle meant it didn't quite work out on the football front.
"The fee for a world-class star like Owen was £4m-a-year over the period of his deal, and with turnover in the £90 millions it equated to less than four per cent of turnover.
"I think fans will question how such a miniscule proportion of turnover could spark a cash crisis in 2009.
"For Alan Shearer in 1996 the fee was £15m. We borrowed at high interest rates when turnover was much less, so it was a far costlier and riskier deal in real terms than Owen's.
"I make absolutely no apologies for trying to bring the best to Newcastle. Shearer worked brilliantly, Owen didn't. But that is how football works.
"I would challenge anyone to compare the cash I backed managers with to the sort of break-even transfer policy that now appears to be in place.
"Ashley needs to stop making excuses and blaming everyone but himself. He should remember his own words to his unhappy Sports Direct investors about 'acting like cry babies!' Ashley and co remained in the firing line as Shepherd continued: "He sacked Sam Allardyce and that cost them £4.6m.
"They then failed to back Kevin Keegan and that has brought a legal claim for a reported £8m.
"They have lost the fans, which has sent gates down to below 48,000 and cost revenue. They have sold nearly £50m of talent they inherited and lost top players such as Shay Given, James Milner and Scott Parker.
"This comes at a time when the net spend on players is virtually invisible. The financial performance of the club is as worrying as what is happening on the field.
"And while my salary was criticised, it never matched the £1.35m it cost to bring Chris Mort in as chairman.
"Ashley's Sports Direct company advertising is plastered all over the stadium and the club publications but the accounts show that just £42,250 was paid for it to Newcastle.
"And what sort of business sells their best player, Shay Given, to the world's so-called richest club, Manchester City, and has to wait until the summer to be paid?
"When blame is being dished out for the present predicament of the club, I don't think too many people will be fooled by the excuses coming from the people who have been in charge for the last two seasons."