Former Newcastle midfielder Rob Lee has suggested that the much-maligned Magpies owner Mike Ashley has no intention of selling the Premier League team and instead wishes to cling on to his ownership in an attempt to displease fans of the club.
Ashley has been in control at St James' Park since 2007 and has been the subject of severe criticism during his tenure. Despite announcing that he was looking to sell the club since they regained promotion to the Premier League in 2017, the high street tycoon remains in charge.
Fan favourite Lee does not buy Ashley's claims and questions the intentions of the Staffordshire-born owner. Speaking on talkSPORT, Lee said: “He takes one step forward and two massive steps back. It’s like he wants to upset the Geordies."
Referring to his former club's transfer activity under the stewardship of Ashley, he added: “He comes out with a statement and says we’ll give all the money we generate, but he never does it.
"[He] never does what he says. He’ll be [there] longer than the end of the season, he won’t sell. If he loses Rafa, we’re in serious trouble. Why can’t Newcastle pay out £20m for a player?”
Despite the influx of money that membership of the Premier League brings, and having one of the biggest fan bases in the country, Newcastle only this year spent £20m on a player for the first time in their history. That was to bring in Paraguayan Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United.
To put things into perspective, this purchase broke their previous transfer record of £16.8m for Michael Owen in 2005 - two years before Ashley took the reigns.
Despite the stagnation of takeover talks, Newcastle's form has improved since Almiron's arrival at the start of this year. Eleven points from their last six games have dragged the Magpies out of a relegation battle and another season of Premier League football looks all but secure.