Beardsley says Ashley deserves better from the Newcastle support
Newcastle legend Peter Beardsley has told Geordie fans to lay off under-fire owner Mike Ashley and thank him for reducing the club's debts.
Ashley put Newcastle up for sale this week when protests revealed the extent of his unpopularity.
But Beardsley, who enjoyed two great spells as a Newcastle player, believes Ashley has been harshly treated.
"He didn't come here to fail and he has put a lot of money into the club, so credit to him," said Beardsley.
"Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out but I'm a little bit disappointed he has to walk away.
"His heart was in the right place. Maybe he didn't always show it in the right way but I think he really cared about Newcastle."
A successful businessman in the sportswear sector, Ashley has found sporting success harder to come by.
Ashley might be at the club a while yet - he should be allowed to watch the games
The 45-year-old completed his purchase of the Tyneside outfit in July 2007 and has invested almost £250m of his estimated £1.4bn fortune in the club.
A large chunk of that has gone on reducing Newcastle's previously alarming debts, although he has also made considerable sums available for transfers and wages.
Forced by supporter unrest to sack Sam Allardyce as manager in January, Ashley appeared to have secured some breathing space when he handed the reins to fans' favourite Kevin Keegan.
But results on the pitch did not improve drastically and off-field tensions between the manager and the continental-style structure Ashley put in place around him to handle transfers and scouting led to Keegan's resignation earlier this month.
Fans did not take long in deciding who to blame and Ashley, who was born in Buckinghamshire and lives in Hertfordshire, became a target for growing dissent.
Matters came to head last Saturday when a depressing home defeat by Hull City was almost a sideshow to vociferous protests against Ashley, executive director Dennis Wise and the rest of the board.
The following day, the supporters got their wish when Ashley, who has been a regular at St James' in his replica shirt, issued an emotional press release stating his intention to sell.
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