The BT Sport pundit caused has some controversial views about the club's owner
Newcastle United supporters have reacted angrily after Rio Ferdinand issued a defence of Mike Ashley in the build-up to Saturday evening’s game against Chelsea.
Ashley has been a deeply unpopular figure on Tyneside since taking control of the club over a decade ago.
According to reports, the businessman – who also owns retail outlets Sports Direct and House of Fraser – is currently trying to sell the club and Magpies boss Rafael Benítez recently expressed his frustration regarding the lack of transfer funds available to him this month.
When discussing the issue in his role as a BT Sport pundit, former Manchester United defender Ferdinand – who has defended Ashley in the past – made some comments which riled the St James’ Park faithful.
"I don't even know him [Mike Ashley] very well!"
"When they went down, he spent £50m of his own money to get them up. Thank you, that should be."
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 12, 2019
“I understand Rafa’s frustrations because as a manager you want the ability to go out and spend money, but they’re not in that position,” said Ferdinand.
“At the same time 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? He’s got them to a point now where they’re back in the Premier League and they’re consolidating to a certain extent.
“He’s not going to go spend his own money. You wouldn’t go spend your own money now knowing you were trying to sell something unless you knew you were going to get that back.
“It’s not easy to sell a football club. He’s got a price and he’s going to wait to get it. He’s spent money at that football club, he’s just not going to spend it at this time.
“All these fans, they do dream, and they dream big and I understand that.
“What are Newcastle’s aims? They can’t be aiming at being a Man Utd or a Man City. They’ve got to aim to be a Bournemouth. They’ve only just started spending.
“I’m not saying everything they’re doing is correct. What I’m saying is, I think Mike Ashley, you can’t hammer him and say that he should be spending when he wants to sell the club. You wouldn’t spend on your house when you want to sell it.”
Many people were critical of the former England international’s comments on Twitter.
Jake Humphrey and Rio Ferdinand are fighting behind the bike sheds after the match, pass it on.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) January 12, 2019
Rio Ferdinand with the dumbest comment I’ve ever seen made by a pundit on live TV.
“What if Ashley spent £30m on a midfielder and £30m on a striker and they both get injured? That’s a waste of £60m.”
— Evin (@EvG_Football) January 12, 2019
Why has Rio Ferdinand just sat there and said we should be thanking Mike Ashley, and thanking him for getting us out of the Championship? Is he alright? #NUFC
— Josh Rudd (@JoshRudd9) January 12, 2019
Very passionate defence of Mike Ashley by Rio Ferdinand just now. pic.twitter.com/kWqU3CEtBm
— David Charlesworth (@charlie_4444) January 12, 2019
Of course we all know Rio Ferdinand has an agenda. pic.twitter.com/LrwikNK52z
— JOP (@40yearsofhurt) January 12, 2019
Lost a hell of a lot of respect for Rio Ferdinand after he labelled us a “Yo-yo club”.. We’ve been relegated twice in 25 years both of those relegations coming under Ashley’s tenure #Nufc
— Passion On The Tyne (@passionnufc) January 12, 2019
“You’re just a shit Ciaran Clark!” Is being chanted by the #nufc fans towards Rio Ferdinand in the BT box. Excellent.
— NG (@NewcastleGoals) January 12, 2019
Still trying to ignore facts. Sold Wijnaldum for £25m, Sissoko for £30m and Townsend for £14m. It’s also irrelevant now as have lowest net spend in PL and ended last window more £20m in profit. It’s like a parent saying you can’t have new shoes because I spent £70 two years ago
— Luke Edwards (@LukeEdwardsTele) January 12, 2019
In listening to @rioferdy5 on BT Sport it's important to clarify, #NUFC fans do not necessarily want Mike Ashley to put his money into the club (it would be nice, but still). They want him to invest the money the club has generated through player sales & TV money. Big difference.
— Kristan Heneage (@KHeneage) January 12, 2019
Rio Ferdinand saying that Mike Ashley spent £50m of his own money to get Newcastle United promoted and he should be thanked. That's categorically not true. The money spent was generated by the club.
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) January 12, 2019