Corbyn kicks up fresh row with Ashley
A new footballing rivalry was formed over the weekend after Jeremy Corbyn took aim at retail tycoon Mike Ashley for his running of Newcastle United.
The Labour leader has taken his war on corporate bosses to the football pitch after branding the high street billionaire “a bad owner” and accusing him of self-interest.
“[Clubs] are too important to be left in the hands of bad owners like Mike Ashley who put their business interests ahead of everything else, marginalise supporters and even put the financial security of clubs at risk,” Corbyn said as he joined a protest with Newcastle United football club fans.
One source close to Ashley hit back at Corbyn by describing his comments as “cheap politics”, adding that the Labour leader “should be focused on other owners who don’t pay their tax.”
“At the end of the day, it is interesting Corbyn has chosen Newcastle as that is where his votes are falling through the floor,” they told City A.M.
The fresh war of words comes in the wake of Corbyn’s plans to radically shake up the Premier League rulebook if he moves into Downing Street.
The Labour party has pledged to allow football supporters’ trusts to buy shares when clubs change hands, giving them the power to appoint and fire at least two members of a club’s board of directors.
Ashley has become a divisive figure in Newcastle, bearing the brunt of criticism for the team’s recent lack of success, with many fans blaming the retail magnate for a lack of investment in the club.
The Sports Direct owner, who has been spending the last year snapping up prominent retail chains on the high street, has attempted to sell off Newcastle United a number of times in the last decade, most recently this summer for a reported £350m.
This weekend Corbyn also vowed to launch a review into fan participation in sports governance at all levels, which is understood to
include tests for who can be a director and greater financial transparency.
Other proposals which have been unveiled by Corbyn were a demand that the Premier League invests five per cent of its income from television rights into grassroots football and the banning of zero-hour staff contracts.
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