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Page last updated at 17:02 GMT, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 18:02 UK

Whelan says Ashley deserves flak

Dave Whelan
Dave Whelan believes Newcastle fans are right to criticise Mike Ashley

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan insists Newcastle counterpart Mike Ashley deserves the criticism he is receiving.

Ashley is attempting to sell Newcastle after Kevin Keegan's departure and a campaign against him by supporters.

Whelan said: "The fans up there eat, breathe and live for one thing, and that is Newcastle United.

"Unless you put your whole heart into it, are a 100% Geordie and are backing them, they will give you some stick. He has got it, and he deserves it."

Whelan added: "I know Mike Ashley quite well as I was running JJB when he was with Sports Direct, and he is a bit unusual.

"He is a very good retailer, but at managing a football club, no. Especially with him being a Tottenham supporter and then going up to Newcastle, a club that is a different kettle of fish to most in the land."

Wigan's own Geordie boss Steve Bruce has been touted as a possible successor to Keegan on his native Tyneside - but Whelan insists he would not be interested.

He said: "One day he will get a big-four job - I realise that, and I think the whole country realises he is one of the best four managers in the world.

"Sooner or later one of the big four clubs will come for Steve, and he knows I would never stand in his way, no matter where he wanted to go.

"I have such high respect for him, and hopefully he has that for me and the club, and I'm sure he has.

"But if Newcastle came, I think you would get Steve telling them what to do very quickly.

"I know Newcastle is where he comes from, and I know he did want to manage Newcastle at one time.

"But now, with what is going on up there, I think it would frighten a lot of people, and I'm sure it wouldn't excite him to go up there at present."

see also
Who would buy Newcastle United?
15 Sep 08 |  Business
Mike Ashley statement
14 Sep 08 |  Newcastle

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Telegraph Newcastle turn to David O'Leary as shortterm successor to Kevin Keegan - 31 mins ago
The Scotsman Whelan has no sympathy for his 'unusual' onetime business rival - 10 hrs ago
Daily Mail Wigan owner Whelan: 'Unusual' Ashley deserves fury from Newcastle fans - 13 hrs ago
Sporting Life WHELAN: ASHLEY IS NO CLUB OWNER - 14 hrs ago
Sky Sports Whelan - Ashley deserves flak - 17 hrs ago


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