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Mike Ashley usually gets what he wants… a move for Coventry would make sense

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MIKE ASHLEY denies any  interest in buying Coventry — but despite his firm rejection many still remain suspicious of his motives since his company purchased the stadium the club play in.

The Newcastle supporters are sending discouraging messages about him to counterparts in the West Midlands, after Ashley’s 13- year ownership of NUFC up until October 2021 turned sour.

Sad, after it all started out so well when fans initially rejoiced at his takeover — a fantastically rich, successful, beer drinking Englishman owner who promised to bring the glory days back to Tyneside, who then appointed club legend Kevin Keegan as manager.

That relationship also ended in tears, when King Kev left after winning £2million in damages for the way he was treated whilst he was manager at the club.

Numerous other bosses then came and went, and by the end of his ownership the NUFC supporters would have taken Steptoe and Son over Ashley.

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Billionaire Ashley has reportedly tried for Rangers and Derby County since taking leave of the north east — and adding Coventry to his Frasers Group portfolio makes  absolute sense should he be able to move several obstacles.

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The thorniest of these is Doug King, a businessman who is on the brink of acquiring 85 per cent the Sky Blues and acceptance of ownership by the EFL.

Obviously, King wants the team to play in the stadium which since it was built as their home in  2005 to replace Highfield Road has had more functions than a Rolls- Royce’s dashboard.

Among these are a huge  shopping centre; an indoor arena that has showcased the Stones, Springsteen and even the Spice Girls; an exhibition site, a venue for netball, snooker, two hotels and a casino.

Then, of course, it was the short-lived home of Wasps until they went bust.

The main sufferers in the  stadium’s chequered past, the club might well call itself Coventry Refugees.

Twice it has had to leave the historic city as hapless as Lady Godiva who, legend relates, rode naked through its streets.

Once a long-term resident of the then-First Division they beat Spurs 3-2 in a thrilling FA Cup final in 1987, stayed in the Premier League until 2001 and then went into freefall.

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The new stadium — with a capacity of 32,000 — should have housed a more or less contented crowd of Coventrians.

No such luck. Twice the club were banished, leading to seasons in Northampton and Birmingham.

The faithful stuck with them and were rewarded by a climb from the Second Division to the Championship where at the moment Mark Robins, five seasons into a second stint as manager, has led them from a poor start into a challenging position.

Now Ashley has moved with his usual chess master’s precision and told the club they can no longer play at his stadium.

This appears to be a ploy but it needs King to play a defensive piece from a negative  position,  although he should be aware that few ever get the better of Ashley.

King, might wish he, too, could protest  by riding naked through the city’s streets — although temporary relief is close.

Frasers have offered a new agreement which no doubt will be open to negotiation but there’s  little doubt either King will have to accept a bigger cut of income from the stadium if they are to continue to play there.

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There is something war-like about Ashley’s tactics.

He has sent in his advanced troops to make a surprise takeover, then launched drones to bombard the club’s takings to  give him a big advantage in any further negotiation.

Whether you like it or not, he’s a deal maker, and usually gets what he wants.

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He’s a great wheeler-dealer, with an uncanny skill in transforming turkeys into low-carat golden apples, he’ll surely make a success at the cut-price stadium.

But will Sky Blues fans be any happier?

Source: The Sun

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