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Rio Ferdinand defends Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in heated debate with Jake Humphrey

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'They are a yo-yo club – the fans should be thanking him': Rio Ferdinand defends Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in heated debate with Jake Humphrey as he insists it's 'nothing to do with his business' ties in Sports DirectRio Ferdinand insists Newcastle fans should be thanking owner Mike AshleyThe retired defender 'understands' why Ashley is trying to sell the clubNewcastle fans have been protesting Ashley's position at the club for years

Rio Ferdinand believes Newcastle supporters should be 'thanking' owner Mike Ashley for all that he has done for the club.

The former Manchester United defender and BT Sport pundit was questioned by host Jake Humphrey on his relationships with Ashley and the Magpies faithful.

Before going on to defend billionaire retail entrepreneur, Ferdinand insisted that his stance on the matter had nothing to do with his business dealings with Sports Direct – the sports retail company owned by Ashley.

Rio Ferdinand insists Newcastle supporters should be thanking club owner Mike Ashley

The Newcastle owner was in the stands to watch his side face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge

Newcastle fans have protested to get Ashley out of the club following a lack of investment

Before Newcastle's game with Chelsea on Saturday evening, Ferdinand claimed that he understands why Ashley is trying to sell the club and that he shouldn't put any more money into the club.

'Newcastle are a yo-yo club,' Ferdinand told BT Sport. 'He [Ashley] doesn’t want to do that anymore. He’s been there, done that and move on. What’s the problem? He wants to sell the club, why should he go and spend millions of pounds.' 

The retired centre back also pointed to how Ashley spent millions to get them back in the Premier League before spending £60million more on a striker and midfielder. 

Ferdinand (right) defended Ashley in a heated debate with show host Jake Humphrey (left)

Newcastle fans handed out leaflets before the game against Chelsea on Saturday afternoon

'He spent £30m on a striker, £30m on a midfielder – as he is trying to sell the club – both of them get injured. £60m down the drain. Would you do that?' 

While Humphrey played the role of devil's advocate, Ferdinand would not be swayed on his opinion – an issue he has be criticised for defending in the past.

Ferdinand then insisted that the fans should be thanking Ashley for the appointment of Rafa Benitez.

'You look down the road, last season or whatever, Sunderland spent £1.2million to get in the Championship,' Ferdinand continued. 

'He’s done that to get them back up, and by the way, please say thank you for getting Rafa Benitez in because by rights, they’re lucky to have him.' 

Supporters have claimed Ashley lacks ambition as they continue to protest his position

JAKE HUMPREY DEBATE WITH RIO FERDINAND – FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jake Humphrey: I don’t think you have too much sympathy with Newcastle fans and actually what a lot of them tell me is that you have an opinion of the club because you sell a lot of your merchandise through Mike Ashley’s stores. Let’s just clear that up for a start.

Rio Ferdinand: I don’t even know him really well. I will get to know him. My issue is – it’s got nothing to do with my business dealings that I have with his company – I just think when they went down, he spent fifty-odd million pounds to get them back up.

JH: Yep.

RF: With his own money.

JH: Yep.

RF: Thank you, that should be.

JH: Wasn’t it Newcastle’s money? They generated it.

RF: He’s the owner. Also -

JH: That’s the club’s money!

RF: You look down the road, last season or whatever, Sunderland spent £1.2million to get in the Championship. He’s done that to get them back up, and by the way, please say thank you for getting Rafa Benitez in because by rights, they’re lucky to have him.

JH: Well I think it was Rafa Benitez that approached Newcastle for the manager’s position.

RF: Doesn’t matter. He still got him.

JH: Since they got promoted Brighton have spent £100m, Huddersfield £72million, Newcastle £6million. In that time, Premier League revenue income of £150million.

RF: Newcastle are a yo-yo club.

JH: But why do they need to be a yo-yo club? Huge fanbase, huge potential. Proper investment and they won’t be a yo-yo club.

RF: Yeah but he [Ashley] doesn’t want to do that anymore. He’s been there, done that and move on. What’s the problem? He wants to sell the club, why should he go and spend millions of pounds. Spend £30million on a striker, £30million on a midfielder – as he is trying to sell the club – both of them get injured. £60million down the drain. Would you do that?

JH: Before I sell my house, I might do it up to make it look good, yeah.

RF: Well that’s going to cost you a couple of grand – it’s not going to cost you £60million, is it?

JH: He might get that money back when he sells the club.

RF: He might.

JH: The club has a value.

RF: He might. £60million. You can’t say he might. 

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