Ex-Newcastle owner Mike Ashley set to buy iconic ground as fans fear the worst

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    Mike Ashley’s plan to buy the Headingley cricket ground has left fans fearing for the future of the iconic venue.

    Yorkshire CCC are looking to sell their home, which has hosted some of the most legendary Ashes Tests in history, to clear their massive debts. That has led to Sports Direct boss and former Newcastle owner lining up a £23million deal to buy the famous stadium.

    Ashley is close to securing a 10-year naming rights deal, reports the Daily Mail, after edging ahead of India Premier League side the Rajasthan Royals and former Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves, who were also interested in buying Headingley. That could see the ground named after one of the Brands from Ashley’s Frasers Group, like Sports Direct, Slazenger or Jack Wills.

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    Ashley, who has recently been linked with buying crisis-hit Reading FC, plans to lease the ground back to Yorkshire, who will pay £1million per year in rent to keep playing there. Yorkshire are said to have negotiated an option to buy back the ground as part of the sale.

    It is hoped the plan will safeguard the club’s future following a period which has seen the club embroiled in a racism scandal and suffer financial hardship. However, some fans fear what Headingley will become in the hands of Ashley, who was deeply unpopular during his ownership of Newcastle for a lack of investment.

    What do you think about Mike Ashley buying Headingley? Have your say in the comments section below

    “Come for the cricket… stay for the offers on socks,” joked one fan. Another said: “He’ll turn it into a billboard for his tat store and will run it on a shoe string. The bloke is bad news for any sporting institution.”

    A third mused: “So Ashley will own Headingley separate to Yorkshire, so he’ll actually be the one taking the income? Sounds like a bad move for Yorkshire considering how much it can make.”

    A Newcastle fan opined: “Headingley is going to look like one of his tacky sports shops, isn’t it? St James Park looks so much nicer without that crap SD [Sports Direct] logo on every bit of space. A fifth quipped: “Mike Ashley and cricket… they go together like caviar and a bag of s****.”

    However, some fans, alluding to track record of reviving struggling businesses, believe it is a good move for Yorkshire. One said: “As a businessman the bloke is an absolute genius!”

    • Mike Ashley
    • Sports Direct
    • Reading FC
    • Newcastle United FC
    • Cricket
    • Footballblog

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