London (AFP) – Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has written an open letter to his relegated club’s supporters in which he promises to restore them to the Premier League at the first attempt.
The Magpies were condemned to the Championship on Wednesday for the second time in Ashley’s tenure after a dismal season on Tyneside.
But the much-maligned Ashley, widely disliked by Newcastle fans, knows the north-east club recovered to win promotion the year after they were last relegated in 2009 and he is convinced he can help get the club back into the top-flight again.
In an open letter to fans and staff on Friday, Ashley wrote: “I am writing to you in the immediate aftermath of the relegation of our club — a bitterly disappointing outcome for all of us.
“Newcastle United rightly has a proud and long tradition of competing at the highest level and I therefore understand and share the pain that supporters will be feeling at this difficult time.
“Many of you have expressed strong views about what we could have done differently. I respect those views, but I would like to reiterate that it has always been my intention to try to achieve the very best for Newcastle United.
“We invested heavily in the squad over last summer and again in January, but we have been unable to secure Premier League status despite the recent efforts of the team under the formidable stewardship of Rafa Benitez.
“I’ve said in the past that when I take on a challenge I am prepared to go through both good times and bad.
“There can be no doubt that relegation is a terrible blow, but I want to assure you that the club will now be doing everything it can at all levels to try to ensure a swift return to its rightful place in the Premier League.
“We have done it before — we can do it again.”
While Ashley is confident of promotion next season, he may need to find a new manager first because he is still to persuade Rafael Benitez, who took over with just 10 games to go, that his future lies at St James’ Park as he considers whether or not to activate the release clause negotiated as part of his three-year deal.
Talks began on Thursday and will continue after the last game of the season against Tottenham on Sunday, but the Spaniard has already been linked with the vacant posts at both Valencia and Everton.
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