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Rio Ferdinand stands by his defence of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley

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'They're lucky to have him!': Rio Ferdinand stands by his defence of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley as he insists positive comments are nothing to do with his business dealingsRio Ferdinand defends his positive comments regarding Mike AshleyFerdinand says comments are not linked to his business association with Ashley Ex-Manchester United defender praised the Newcastle owner on BT Sport Newcastle fans have frequently protested against Ashley's ownership of the club

Rio Ferdinand defended his claims that Newcastle fans should be grateful for owner Mike Ashley despite a fierce reaction. Ferdinand says the comments are not linked to his business association with Ashley’s Sports Direct, who exclusively sell his clothing brand.

He was challenged about that connection by host Jake Humphrey during BT Sport’s coverage of Newcastle’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on Saturday.

‘I don’t even really know (Ashley) well,’ Ferdinand said. ‘I will get to know him. My issue has got nothing to do with my business dealings I’ve got with his company.

Rio Ferdinand has stood by his defence of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley

‘When they went down, he spent £50million of his own money to get them up. Thank you, that should be. By the way, please say thank you for getting Rafa Benitez in! They’re lucky to have him!’

But Ferdinand’s claims were laced with inaccuracies. It was Benitez who approached Newcastle before being appointed in March 2016, and the money spent after relegation was generated by the club.

After criticism overnight, Ferdinand posted a message on social media yesterday. It read: ‘NUFC fans good morning to you all!! Ya club’s turning a profit, no debt, oh & playing in the PL! Terrible!’

Ferdinand had also said: ‘I understand Mike Ashley. Why is he going to spend more and more money — millions and millions of pounds — when he’s actually looking to sell the club?

Ferdinand insisted that his positive comments are nothing to do with his business dealings

‘Newcastle are a yo-yo club. He doesn’t want to do that any more. What’s the problem?’

It was pointed out to Ferdinand that Newcastle have only been relegated twice from the Premier League, both under Ashley’s ownership.

Fans also reminded him that the club returned a profit in the summer window despite Ashley’s promise that Benitez would get ‘every last penny generated’.

As for Ferdinand’s claims the club is debt free, club legend Alan Shearer replied: ‘The last club accounts tell you they are over £140m in debt!!’

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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