Newcastle United-Sono ore frenetiche quelle che vedono protagonista, seppur indirettamente, Mike Ashley, imprenditore inglese proprietario del Newcastle United e coinvolto anche nelle faccende relative al club scozzese dei Glasgow Rangers. E’ giunta la notizia infatti che il Supporter’s Trust della squadra inglese ha presentato alla Uefa e alle autorità calcistiche inglesi, una lettera nella quale sono stati richiesti chiarimenti sulla posizione di Ashley nei Rangers, specie in violazione delle regole che disciplinano la partecipazione nel capitale sociale dei club professionistici.

I tifosi del Newcastle temono per l’Europa

In particolare, la lettera inviata da Norman Watson anche al rappresentante politico Sajid Javid, alla Premier League Association e alla Football League, ha un titolo davvero esemplificativo: “Will Newcastle United ever play in Europe again?”e solleva la non trascurabile questione sugli effetti e le conseguenze che una “Dual Ownership” possa avere sulle possibilità, in questo caso dei Magpies, di poter partecipare alle competizioni internazionali. Le regole della Uefa, infatti, seppur ammettano che un soggetto possa avere interesse in due club contemporaneamente, sottolineano che, affinché entrambi possano prender parte alle coppe in Europa, nel caso specifico di Ashley (e delle società coinvolte), egli deve necessariamente “provare” di non avere un’eccessiva influenza in seno al board del club scozzese. Ed è qui dunque, che si materializzano le complicazioni sulla questione, perché, seppur la SFA abbia di recente negato che il numero uno di Sports Direct incrementi la sua quota di partecipazione al capitale sociale (dal 9% al 30%), l’influenza di Ashley nel direttivo è piuttosto evidente. Infatti, basti pensare che due suoi uomini di fiducia e collaboratori di lungo corso, sono “finiti” per accaparrarsi i due ruoli-chiave in seno al consiglio della società scozzese: Derek Lambias è infatti divenuto il CEO dei Rangers mentre Barry Leach ne è il nuovo direttore finanziario.

La lettera del Supporter’s Trust del Newcastle

To whom it may concern,

I write on behalf of the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust concerning an issue which we believe needs certain attention and clarification.

Mike Ashley has been the owner of Newcastle United since 2007. He has sole ownership of the club which is a participating member of your competition and has been for many years.

Newcastle United is an historic and prominent football club.

Each season Newcastle United enters your competition with others and the supporters hope and expectation (we are nothing if not optimistic) is that it will be successful and on occasion may win the trophy and/or qualify and gain entry into the Uefa competitions which are part of its reward.

This is part of the incentive for all clubs and their supporters who buy tickets and is an implicit understanding for TV companies who buy rights and for sponsors who pay for advertising etc. This is part of the package sold to supporters, TV companies and indeed other competing teams. This is what gives your competition its prestige and it is what TV companies, sponsors and fans buy into.

It is therefore of major concern to Newcastle United supporters that the increasing involvement of Mike Ashley with Glasgow Rangers FC may have the wholly undesirable effect of meaning that the prize available to all competing clubs in your competition of qualification to Uefa competitions may be deprived from Newcastle United because of Mr Ashley’s involvement with Glasgow Rangers FC.

May I also note that over the last twenty years Newcastle United has been a regular participant in Uefa competitions including the Champions League, the Europa League and the Uefa Cup. Newcastle United has only spent one season out of the English Premier League in the last twenty years. Newcastle United currently attracts the third highest attendances in the Premier League and is one of the best supported clubs in Europe. Newcastle United has previously won the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, the fore-runner to the Uefa cup. It represents one of the high-points in Newcastle United’s history.

Chiamando in causa l’articolo 3 del regolamento Uefa del ciclo 2012-15 e della stagione 14-15 il Trust ha poi tirato fuori le sue conclusioni:

As you may be aware Mike Ashley’s growing involvement with Glasgow Rangers places Newcastle United in the position of possibly losing the benefits of competing in Uefa competitions as per the above. Mr Ashley owns almost 10% of a share-holding in Rangers, has had the power to call an EGM to remove directors and appoint his own preferences to key positions at that club (i.e. Derek Llambias to the position of CEO.

Mr Llambias fulfilled a similar role at Newcastle United until his resignation in 2013 and is a long established associate of Mr Ashley). Glasgow Rangers are reliant upon Mr Ashley for a number of loans and his influence on that club would appear to be central to its future direction.

Glasgow Rangers remains one of the most prominent and best supported clubs in the United Kingdom. As a club it has participated regularly in Uefa competitions and I would imagine would expect to do so again when it has recovered from its current travails.

We believe there is an obvious question to be address of dual ownership given Mr Ashley’s sole ownership of Newcastle United and Glasgow Rangers. These are two clubs with a tradition of playing in Uefa competitions.

I would put it to you that currently Newcastle United is a participating member of your competition which is unable to benefit fully from any success it might achieve. Further we fear this knowledge reduces its appetite for success in your competition and consequently, as one of its traditional and prominent members, reduces the sporting integrity of your competition and consequently the commercial value of the fixtures it is involved with.

Fabio Colosimo

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