Toon owner to sit with away fans at derby
Newcastle's millionaire owner will join his club's fans in the away end at Sunderland tomorrow because he wants to wear his black and white shirt. Mike Ashley will forego the pleasures of the directors' box at the Stadium of Light and join the 3,000 travelling Newcastle fans, because he did not want to cause problems for the hosts by wearing his top among the red and white supporters. Much has been made during the build-up to the Wear-Tyne derby as to whether Ashley would wear his black and white shirt, which has striker Alan Smith's name on the back, for the game. The sports retail entrepreneur likes to show his affinity to the Newcastle fans by wearing the same replica shirts that helped make his fortune. His Sunderland counterpart Niall Quinn said he did not mind what Ashley wore, but there were concerns from police and club officials that some supporters would find it an inflammatory gesture in a game which is one of British football's most passionate. Newcastle chairman Chris Mort said today: 'Niall understands Mike wants to wear his black and white shirt for this game more than any other, but does not want to cause anyone at Sunderland any problems. 'As a result, Mike has decided to watch tomorrow's game with our fans behind the goal.' Ashley was once thought of as a recluse, but since he bought the club he has repeatedly appeared in the directors' box wearing his team's kit. Earlier this year he was initially refused entry to a Newcastle nightclub because he was wearing the black and white stripes, until a senior member of staff recognised the multi-millionaire and let him in. He bought everyone in the club a drink and tipped the staff heavily. The Blu Bambu club changed its policy, so now customers can wear football tops, as long as they can prove they own the club.