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Newcastle’s Mike Ashley Is Baseball Owner Jeffrey Loria In Disguise

As a Newcastle fan, I just have to throw my hands up at the Andy Carroll debacle. Whether it was the player or the owner or both, the result is the squad has been dealt a sucker punch. The fact that the deal wasn’t even on the radar until deadline day, of course, is the worst part of the the sorry affair.

As a South Florida sports fan, I can’t help but see the parallels for both Ashley and Carroll in the local sports teams.

The Florida Marlins, the local baseball team, is owned by Jeffrey Loria. Before he acquired the team from John Henry (yes, the current Red Sox and Liverpool owner) in the winter of 2001-2, he owned the Montreal Expos. He sold the Expos to the league, which had a two-step plan to fix them – move them, then sell them. Montreal has no Major League baseball team. So, Loria bought the Marlins.

After winning the World Series in 2003, the team since has been characterized by four things:

  1. the lowest salary in the league, or close to it,
  2. the lowest attendance in the league, or close to it,
  3. a team that despite these handicaps still finds a way to be in the middle of the pack every year, and
  4. a team that spins a nice annual profit for Loria.

None of these make Loria a loved figure here, of course. Most Marlins fans tend to speak of Loria through clenched teeth, and every trading deadline and off-season movement period becomes a time of anxiety rather than anticipation.

Apparently Mike Ashley is trying to be the Premier League’s equivalent of Jeffrey Loria. On one hand, Ashley doesn’t have to worry much about losing all the fans. Newcastle attendance was down last year in the Championship, but they routinely outdrew most EPL matches. On the other hand, the fans here aren’t nearly as rabid as the Toon Army, and I’ll be pretty surprised if Ashley takes his usual place in St. James’ Park on Saturday.

As for Carroll, he had the chance to be one of Newcastle’s all-time greats. A local boy turned football hero, he was on his way to be the new Alan Shearer. Now, he’s the new Lebron James. Carroll may find success as Liverpool’s new number 9, as well as a long-term role on the English national team, but he’ll never own Anfield the way he would have owned St. James’ Park.

I hope someone sends Carroll a tape of Lebron James’ first return to Cleveland – it was very, very ugly. He should be prepared for 50,000 angry people in black-and-white when Liverpool visits Newcastle next season. Of course, Newcastle are not guaranteed to stay up. They dropped to tenth Wednesday night after a lackluster performance at Fulham. Ashley has promised to keep the 35 million quid in the club in “transfers and wages” – notice he didn’t say just transfers – but if the club is relegated again, or if he sells the club, what happens to the funds then? It’s a serious gamble Ashley has made here, and the only people happy with it wear red and white (both in Liverpool and, I’d suspect, in Sunderland), and nobody would be surprised if it all turned sour.

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  1. Cord4Gooner

    February 4, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    The Marlins original owner Wanye Huizinga started this whole frustrating process. He was the original owner of the Fish, he bought a championship and then totally dis-assembled the team. As long as the Fish keep hold of Hanley Ramirez they will be ok.

  2. Thomas

    February 4, 2011 at 4:34 am

    I’m still laughing that Carroll fetched a higher transfer fee than Villa. Llorente is more established and probably could have been had for less.

    • Sean

      February 4, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      David Villa is 29-years-old meaning he has very little resale value. How much money do 33 or 34-year-old strikers fetch on the market these days?

      Llorente is also 3 years and 11 months older than Andy Carroll. How much resale value will he have four years from now (when he is essentially 30-years-old) considering the fact that his career high goal total for a season is 14? Yes, he has 12 in 21 games thus far this season but how do you know this season is not an outlier? Moreover, he has never even played in England before. How do you know that he will adapt to the English game or be able to settle in personally?

      Andy Carroll at least has been exposed to English football, has been a player many have watched/thought good things about for some time now and will have no trouble adapting culturally. Even if Carroll fails Liverpool will be able to recoup some of their money in the transfer market. The fact that he is so young means he will most likely fetch more money than your alternatives. Moreover, John Henry today stated in The Guardian that this Transfer was financed by the Torres transfer. He stated that whatever Newcastle wanted they would just request that amount plus £15 million more from Chelsea for Torres.

    • laligajoke

      February 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      La Liga is a joke. My grandmother could score goals in that league. They don’t play defense at all. .5 higher goals scored average PER GAME than the EPL.

  3. Smokey Bacon

    February 3, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Getting 35 mil for Carroll was about the first smart thing Ashley has done, particularly after the player made it clear he wanted to go. Yes Newcastle fans, as soon as young Andy found out he would triple his salary by moving he did what anyone else in his shoes would do – he was out the door. So get over it. The only thing dig you can have at Ashley over this is not bringing in a replacement. Crouch would have been great for the toon given the way they play.

  4. Terry

    February 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Spurs had bid 30 million pounds for Carroll earlier in the day and Newcastle didn’t accept the offer but did not say he was not for sale. Spurs were after a number of strikers, including a few in La Liga in Spain and had Spurs come back with a higher bid Newcastle would have sold Carroll to them. Liverpool knew that Newcastle had turned down 30 million from Spurs so they had to come in at a higher price to land Carroll. Which they did and Ashley was only too happy to accept. Reports in Newcastle state that Ashley didn’t try to convince Carroll to stay because he thought he was getting a great deal in selling Carroll.

    While Carroll has potential he isn’t the finished product and it was a gamble by Liverpool to buy him for such a huge fee. Only time will tell whether Newcastle or Liverpool got the better deal.

  5. Ringo

    February 3, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I don’t understand why Newcastle fans would be upset with Carroll. It was incredibly obvious he wanted to stay with the club, but Ashley was shoving him out the door, demanding that he say he wanted to go.

  6. Thomas

    February 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I’m sorry, but I’m not sure why everyone is so up in arms about all of this. Newcastle should be applauded for the bit of business they’ve done here.

    1. Newcastle are sitting on 30 points with 14 matches left to play. The bottom of the table has everyone on 24. Those teams are averaging about 1pt per match. So it’s relatively safe to say 40 points will probably keep you up. I’m pretty sure NUFC can muster that up…I would not tip them for relegation.

    2. NUFC are no longer a premier club in England. Yes they have a rabid fan base and fill their large stadium each week, but they haven’t legitimately competed for years. So whether delusional Toon fans are upset that they have sold a young player to a bigger club is really irrelevant. At this point, minus the fan base, they are no different than any bottom half club.

    3. How are people not applauding Ashley and company for off loading a PROPSECT for 35million? Sure transfer fees are crazy these days, but when Andy Carroll is valued at more than an established, world class player like David Villa, how can you not sell him?

    4. Andy Carroll is largely unproven. Yes he’s had a good season thus far, but he’s far from a finished product. Obviously he has the potential to get there, but he’s at least one or two years off. His value would surely have been less this summer.

    5. Newcastle now have 35million in their coffers to strengthen the squad in summer. I think they will stay up, and even if they only invest a portion of that money, with fees probably returning down to earth a little bit, they can definiteyl stretch that into a few good players. Newcastle need more than Andy Carroll to get back to the level they once were at. The SQUAD needs to be strengthened.

  7. James

    February 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Please don’t compare baseball or basketball to football. There is actually an honorable tradition in football. Where as in American sports, athletes always hold out on contracts, managers have to power at all, and fans always boo their own team.

    • Red20

      February 3, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      “There is actually an honorable tradition in football. Where as in American sports, athletes always hold out on contracts, managers have to power at all, and fans always boo their own team.”

      Absolute nonsense this. American football players hold out on contracts because they aren’t guaranteed and it’s literally the only power they have over their own situations. They can be dumped at any time without pay, so why shouldn’t they take advantage when possible?

      Managers having power is honorable? What the hell does that have to do with anything? And nice generalization about booing. Happens about as often as it does in world football.

  8. aaronsinger

    February 3, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    If comparisons to Major League are what’s in order, then Newcastle and the Marlins don’t exactly match up.

    The Cubs would make a better comparison.

  9. Dave

    February 3, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I disagree with just about your entire argument. Most of my points have already been made. In addition:

    Carroll will only be 27 when his contract with LFC is up. Shearer was 26 when he joined the club. Carroll has plenty of time to still be a Toon legend, if he wants to.

    I don’t blame Ashely for selling a talented striker, who has only really blossomed during the past year, for 36mil! Plus, he’s hurt and might not have played for us until March. My only complaint over this transfer window is that we didn’t add depth to an already thin squad.

    My biggest issue with Ashley is him not doing proper due dilligence before buying the club. He’s had to take the club in a new direction in order to pay off debt. In the past year, he’s made some smart moves, imo – bringing in Ben Arfa, Tiote, Gosling & Williamson on relatively cheap deals, and not signing any over-the-hill stars to big deals.

    We were in the Championship last year. Going into this season, I just wanted to stay up. We should do that (although yesterday’s performance has me a bit worried). As a bonus, we’ve added some quality young players, and if Ashley keeps his word, we’ll do so again this summer. Then we can start thinking about Europe.

  10. Ryan

    February 3, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I agree with TangoAlphaLima. I can’t for the life of me see how lebron compares with this move. It’s one thing to move to a different club and leave them with a hefty profit even if he had been there years and was already an idol (which he wasn’t), but it’s a whole other thing to be the sole keeper of a city’s existence, drag them through the mud in an anxiety-inducing wait period, and then finally stab them in the back for the entire nation to see…

  11. Clampdown

    February 3, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Actually, the Lebron/Carroll comparison couldn’t be further apart, IMO.

    Lebron let Cleveland twist in the wind for more than a year, leaving the fans in a state of high anxiety about his forthcoming decision. Then he made a circus out of his move by having a film crew follow him around, culminating the hilariously self-serving event, “The Decision.”

    I don’t see how that compares to a an unexpected bid from Liverpool on the final day of the transfer window. Do we really know that it was Carroll who wanted to leave, or was he told the club could use the money? Pure speculation from outsiders. Perhaps Newcastle weren’t willing to give their prized asset a raise.

    From yesterday’s article in The Indepenedent:

    “Sources close to the player have indicated that Newcastle had the opportunity to improve his £25,000-a-week salary after Carroll’s England debut in November and would have satisfied the player with a raise to the relatively modest – by Premier League standards – £40,000-a-week.”

    This seems far off from Lebron, who made sure he lined up other superstars to play with to dramatically increase his odds at winning a championship. Quite frankly, that sounds more like Torres than Carroll.

    • Adam

      February 3, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      To be fair, I have heard different salary figures than that. I have seen widely reported that Andy was on 35-40/ week from contract he signed just three months ago.

    • Sean

      February 3, 2011 at 3:04 pm

      Clampdown, everything you wrote is right on the money. The Lebron and Andy Carroll comparison is absolutely terrible since there were completely different factors at play.

  12. TangoAlphaLima

    February 3, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I’m confused by the LeBron James comparison. LeBron was a free agent, he could go anywhere in the NBA, and Cleveland would get nothing in return. Furthermore, due to the player max contract limit in the NBA, he would receive the same salary no matter where he went. LeBron left Cleveland nothing when he left, and got paid the same amount as if he had stayed.

    Newcastle sold Carroll of their own volition. No one twisted their arm. Carroll agreed to leave, now making double the salary, or whatever it is. Newcastle made a shrewd move to unload a rising star, but one that hasn’t proven it over the long haul, for a load of cash. Carroll agreed to leave Newcastle to join Liverpool, one of the most storied clubs in England, and got his salary doubled to boot. So…

    LeBron – No benefit to leaving Cleveland, other than the prospect of better championship chances in Miami.
    Cleveland – Nothing gained by LeBron’s departure.

    Carroll – Going to a historically better club, and getting paid more.
    Newcastle – Gained 35 million pounds.

    I just don’t see the comparison.

    • clay

      February 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      I don’t agree with the James comparison, but he wouldn’t get the same play anywhere as he would’ve in Cleveland. The original team is allowed to offer a different max pay in the NBA than the other teams (part of the CBA, an attempt to keep teams together). Original team is also allowed to exceed the salary cap to retain players, it’s soft cap. That’s why you see so many sign-and-trade deals in the league.

      I hope Liverpool fails though. Can’t stand them.

  13. Adam

    February 3, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I have bitched about Andy Carroll for about three days straight now to anyone who would listen. I think it is about time to move on for me. The Mags played poorly last night, but Andy would not have even been available for selection into the squad had he even still been with the club. If the money is reinvested along with a reasonable starting transfer kit (10 mil or so) that could theoretically revolutionize the side if spent correctly. I am withholding judgment on the club until after the season and after the Summer window closes- although early signs are negative- team spirit looked bad yesterday and also it was obvious the club was not prepared to sell Andy Carroll, but did anyway. Also whatever happened to those two Winter Window signings?

  14. Brendan

    February 3, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    “I hope someone sends Carroll a tape of Lebron James’ first return to Cleveland – it was very, very ugly.”

    Then let Carroll watch the game, where Lebron destroyed Cleveland’s season. He eviscerated them that night, and they’ve won ONE game since.

  15. Drew M.

    February 3, 2011 at 11:39 am

    After Carroll’s injury (whatever the cause), Newcastle had to have taken a step back and ran the numbers as to whether or not they’d stay up without him. I bet they found that they could. So once they decided that they could make their goal without Carroll, why wouldn’t they sell him off during the January window for maximum return?

    Contrast this to Blackpool, who must have run the numbers and found that they’re not that confident of staying up without Adam. So they set a price higher than they thought anyone would pay, and made sure to send some boardmembers into hiding just in case ‘Arry came ’round with a big bag of cash.

  16. Andrew

    February 3, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Really good article here, the LeBron and Marlins comparisons are spot on.

    One thing though, from one of the other comments… Mike Ashley is not a Newcastle Fan… he’s a Spurs fan. Everyone knows you never leave your first club. He’s a Newcastle “Fan” because he bought the club.

    Any self-respecting Fan would have bigger aspirations for their club. Not turn them into a selling, mid-table (if lucky), joke of a club.

    • dumb

      February 3, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      “Any self-respecting Fan would have bigger aspirations for their club. Not turn them into a selling, mid-table (if lucky), joke of a club.”

      What a joke. You and Bruce are being completely NAIVE. You guys have no understanding of the new economics of the game. The days of Newcastle being on the receiving end of record setting transfers like Alan Shearer are long gone. Unless they get bought by an oil billionaire those days are never, ever, ever coming back. In the new market there is always a price point where Newcastle will be forced to sell someone. This is how it is for most teams in the EPL. Hell this is how it is for Liverpool. The only way they could afford to buy Carroll and Suarez was by selling Torres for a ridiculous overpay by Abramovich.

      • aaronsinger

        February 3, 2011 at 3:33 pm

        Seems to me that Liverpool took advantage of a huge offer from Chelsea for Torres, and wanting to spend that money right away, completely outbid themselves in getting Carroll. Newcastle may have wanted to hold on to the youngster, but an offer that size is just good large to ignore. Liverpool was on the giving and receiving ends of such madness.

        I’m not a fan of either team, but I think this move suits both; Newcastle gets a boatload of cash for an overvalued player; Liverpool brings in much-needed talent after seeing their star striker leave after a richer club offered an even larger overpayment.

      • ish

        February 4, 2011 at 8:06 am

        a good example is lyon for this kind of thing. They are a big club but they know that they arent the biggest. They instead get good players cheap and if a team is willing to overpay for a player they will sell, no worries. They then get 3 players with that money, hopefully all 3 pan out but generally 1 does very well, 1 does good enough to hold a place down but not set the world alight and the other is sold off. You then reinvest the money from the one that did very well and keep going, getting a team of decent if not amazing with a handful of amazing every 2 or 3rd season before they are sold off. This is what wenger is doing and its working for him, sevilla and ajax follows it as well and quite a few of the mid table italians are starting to do it.
        Newcastle needs to become a selling club to stay afloat, by getting the right players at the right age they can improve their squad for little and hopefully over time these players will be sold for a profit. I dont understand why newcastle fans or even liverpool fans would be angry, they both not CL contenders. They both got paid massive amounts for players that they can now hopefully reinvest into smart buys. Liverpool bought carrol and suarez which has improved their strikers force from 1 world class striker and dirk kuyt to 2 quality strikers, 1 proven in EPL, 1 proven overseas, both with the ability to step up to world class, much like how liverpool originally bought torres. Newcastle needs to do the same, they dont necessarily need to spend the same money but two 8 million players of good quality can go along way .

  17. brn442

    February 3, 2011 at 11:09 am

    “Carroll may find success as Liverpool’s new number 9, ……………., but he’ll never own Anfield the way he would have owned St. James’ Park.” – Really? The player had less than two seasons at James Park under his belt, he wasn’t exactly a legend yet. Plus, I think you’re apparent the first person I know who has under-estimated the loyalty of the Kop.

    I think you, like one too many a Newcastle fan, are again suffering from delusions of grandeur. Newcastle’s goal this season is to stay up this season – that’s it. Mike Ashley had 35 million reasons to sell a potentially great player and he made a prudent decision. If Newcastle can survive the sale of Andrew Cole and rose to new heights afterwards, they can survive Carroll.

    Newcastle’s mid and long-term success depends more on how well the money is spent in the summer. Whether Newcastle should spend the bulk, if not all of that cash on one Glamour buy, like they did with Shearer, as opposed to a bunch of average/ players with “potential”, is the (multi) million pound question.

    As for Carroll, apart from probably getting his wages doubled, He couldn’t resist going to – to be frank – a bigger club; the same way, even the most die-hard Liverpool fan has to accept the fact that Chelsea has simply been a better club on the pitch, the last 10 years and shouldn’t be surprised that Torres left to be part of it.

    • Dan

      February 3, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      A bigger club? And you accuse us of ‘delusions of grandeur’? That doesn’t sound like your average Liverpool fan. You aren’t title contenders, we had more coming to see us against the likes of Cardiff (No disrespect to them) than you did against top EPL clubs and oh, you’re only 5 points ahead having been beat 3-1 by us. And I’d hardly call the top striker in the Premier Leagues’ history a ‘glamour buy’.

      We bring Keegan in and we are all deluded, you bring back Dalglish to save your season and you’re all sensible sages. It’s that kind of rank hypocrisy from scousers that gets me, just look at Aldriges interview in which he moans about Torres for betraying Liverpool, glossing over the fact you just bought Carroll. Give me a break, the blokes a Spaniard, what did you expect. Shearer, like Gerrard, was a local lad who gave everything for his boyhood club in the face of offers from manUre and we thought that Carroll would follow him as a quality player the city could be proud of. Turns out he’s just Darren Bent in disguise. To suggest we are in the same position we were in when we sold Cole is like saying you’re in the same position you were in when you won the Champions League, so stop with the hackneyed sky sports insults about deluded Geordies and focus on the deluded minority in your own fan base.

      • brn442

        February 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm

        Dan, it’s seems that your emotions prevented you from reading my entire post. I will repeat it to you: “even the most die-hard Liverpool fan has to accept the fact that Chelsea has simply been a better club on the pitch, the last 10 years and shouldn?t be surprised that Torres left to be a part of it”. Now, there some delusional Liverpool fans that will never accept this but those are the facts. I wish I can say Torres left for the cash but I can’t. Chelsea has simply been a more successful club than Liverpool the last 10 years. Is it a bigger club in terms of silverware or support, the answer is no. Using that same standard, it should be without argument that Liverpool compared to Newcastle is quite simply, a bigger club. If you have facts that beg to differ, please feel free to share them. I used the word “glamour” in the positive sense to describe Shearer, not in the Faustino Asprilla pejorative .

        I will say and I assume that you’ll agree with me; both Torres and Carroll rightly or wrongly, made a choice to join clubs that they think will be more successful the next few years and will give them a better chance of advancing their careers. As a Liverpool supporter I have accepted that fact (Aldridge doesn’t speak for me), as a Newcastle fan, I kindly suggest you do the same.

    • Jack

      February 3, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      “He couldn’t resist going to – to be frank- a bigger club” Judging by Andy’s comments after the transfer i.e. gutted to leave, didn’ want to go, was pushed out, I don’t think Andy thought he was moving to a bigger club.

  18. Jordan

    February 3, 2011 at 11:02 am

    The Lebron James/Andy Carroll parallells you draw here are insightful, and incredibly amusing. I’d never thought of it that way.

  19. Rob McCluskey

    February 3, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Nice to know we’re not the only ones suffering!

    I blame Carroll more than Ashley for all this though, I wouldn’t have been too fussed if we wanted to sell recieving £35m any other time, it was just the fact that it was transfer deadline day. We have 30 points already and play a lot of the teams in the bottom half of the table, destiny is in our own hands really.

    I’ll reserve my judgement on this £35m being spent in the summer, to see if it actually does. If we stay up I hope we invest it into youthful players and most importantly – buy a striker! (and a left back as Jose Enrique has been our only proper left back for about three years now!)

  20. timmyg

    February 3, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Eh, I suppose. Ashley is a Newcastle fan, but he’s a moron.

    Loria is a snakeoil salesman that hoodwinks governments in South Florida to pay for a new stadium because he cannot afford it and is losing money…when documents are leaked that reveal that he’s made millions upon millions owning the team.

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