Former Manchester United defender, Rio Ferdinand. John Walton

Rio Ferdinand throws his support behind Newcastle owner Mike Ashley over club sale talks

The BT Sport pundit was speaking ahead of Newcastle’s match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

RIO FERDINAND HAS drawn the ire of certain sections of football fans after throwing his support behind Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, claiming the work he’s done for the club should be recognised.

Speaking ahead of Newcastle’s 2-1 defeat away to Chelsea on Saturday evening, the BT Sport pundit explained why fans should be ‘thanking’ the controversial businessman for his investments in the club.

“I don’t even know him really well,” the former Manchester United defender said with regards to his branded clothing line being sold in Ashley’s store, Sport Direct.

“It’s got nothing to do with business dealings I’ve got with him or his company. When they went down, he spent £50m of his own money to get them back up.

“‘Thank you’ that [response] should be. He’s done that to get them back up and, by the way, please say thank you for getting Rafa Benitez in. Because really, by rights, they’re lucky to have him in.”

In response to the money Newcastle have spent in comparison to clubs like Brighton and Huddersfield, he said: “Newcastle are a yo-yo club.  They’ve been a yo-yo club for how many years?

“He doesn’t want to [invest] no more. He’s been there, done that. He wants to move on – what’s the problem?

“He wants to sell the club, why would he spend millions and millions of pounds? He’s spent £30m on a striker and £30m on a midfielder as he’s trying to sell the club.

“Both of them get injured. There’s £60m down the drain. Would you do that?”

Ashley has been a controversial figure at the club over since taking over at St James’ Park in 2007 and the sports retail tycoon decided in 2017 to put the club up for sale.

During his time in charge of the club, Newcastle have suffered two relegations and the 54-year-old also sold the naming rights to the club’s historic stadium.

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