Newcastle's Mike Ashley: 'I don't have that cash' to rival Man City spending
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has admitted he cannot compete with Manchester City and the Premier League's other big spenders as he attempts to fund Rafael Benitez's rebuilding programme.
In a rare television interview, which will be broadcast in full by Sky Sports' Premier League channel on Sunday evening, Ashley laid out the club's spending limitations which have left their Spanish manager frustrated this summer.
Newcastle have invested around £30 million on five new faces in this transfer window, but have been unable to land their major targets with the new broadcast deal having sent transfer fees soaring.
Ashley said: "If someone said to me I am wealthy -- OK, in theory I am a billionaire, even maybe a multi-billionaire, but in reality my wealth is all in Sports Direct shares that as I said the other week, are the same as wallpaper.
"I don't have that cash in the bank, so I don't have that ability to write a cheque for £200m. I don't have it, it's very simple, it's not there. I would have to sell the Sports Direct shares to fund that.
"People outside of football looking in and the way sometimes it's portrayed is that those sort of wealth terms are in the bank.
"They're not and I have to make it clear, I am nowhere near wealthy enough in football now to compete with the likes of Man City et cetera -- not just Man City -- where basically it is a wealthy individual taking on what is the equivalent of countries. I cannot and I will not."
Ashley's comments came hours after Benitez had re-affirmed his commitment to the club despite his disappointment over their summer spending.
Speaking at his prematch press conference ahead of Sunday's Premier League opener against Tottenham at St James' Park, Benitez said: "Obviously, I said how I feel during this summer, but at the same time, I said that my commitment is 100 percent with this team, this club in terms of trying to win from the first game until the last one.
"My ambition is to do well in every single game to get three points and see where we are in the table.
"I am not saying I am really pleased with everything because it's not true, but I am not saying that I will not do my best to be as high as possible in the table."
Benitez will look to use the loan market, having accepted that he will not be allowed to go out and buy a £25 million-plus player and pay the wages such a signing would command.
Ashley admitted he simply cannot afford to fund the kind of overhaul his manager would like in an ideal world.
Asked how much money he could give the former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss, the sportswear magnate said: "Not enough.
"It's very simple: it's not enough, and Rafa knows that. It's not enough. It's not a secret. Every penny the club generates, he can have, but it won't generate enough.
"It's Newcastle United, it doesn't have a £40m-a-year stadium naming rights deal, it doesn't, so I don't want the fans to watch this interview and think, 'That's great, Rafa is getting £150m in the morning' -- he's not.
"Rafa, with [managing director] Lee Charnley's help -- and Lee Charnley answers to Rafa, not the other way round so we're crystal clear -- Rafa makes all the final decisions on players out and players in, but he has to do it with the money the club has."