Those images of a rotund Mike Ashley, clad in obligatory Newcastle shirt, swilling beer amongst a bewildered Toon Army are ingrained on the memory of every Premier League follower, making the discount sports goods vendor incredibly difficult to take seriously as a football club owner.
Roman Abramovich never felt the need to neck a pint to convince the Chelsea faithful that he, just like them, is one of the lads, only unfathomably richer, while there has been no evidence to suggest that John W. Henry doesn’t mind venturing into the Kop to bellow out You’ll Never Walk Alone with the proletariat either.
Still, the much-maligned Magpies bankroller can rub shoulders with these two esteemed figures, as well as any other leading financier, when it comes to successfully running a footballing franchise.
Here’s why, despite what the dissenters would have you believe, the fattest cat in the Newcastle boardroom is one of the best in the business:
When Ashley sells, he sells at the right time.
The £35m he prised out of Liverpool’s pocket for Andy Carroll quickly proved to be a masterstroke because, like it or not Newcastle fans, that price is approximately ten times his true market value.
A Toon Army revolt was threatened following this departure, with Shefki Kuqi (correctly) deemed an insufficient replacement for the cult hero, but Ashley knew no harm could come from flogging their top talent with the club well ahead of the relegation curve, but way behind the European qualification equivalent.
He repeated the trick in January 2014 when extracting £20m from Paris St Germain for Yohan Cabaye.
When Ashley spends, he spends big.
His occasional unwillingness to venture into the transfer market may be perceived as an act of penny-pinching, but disgruntled Newcastle fans rarely consider the flip-side of the coin – that he’s just waiting until the right assets become available.
Having splurged £30m in a squad-strengthening summer shopping spree already, he has almost ensured the club of a 6/4-rated top-ten finish next term.
When Ashley brokers a deal, it tends to work out best for the club.
Ignoring the anomalous Kuqi, there’s a long list of players procured on the cheap that have appreciated in value during their St James’ Park stints.
Cabaye, Demba Ba and Mathieu Debuchy are just three players to have been sold at a profit after outgrowing the Newcastle nest, while the likes of Moussa Sissoko and Cheick Tiote have augmented their net worth on Tyneside.