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Toon and TUSC slam 'cash cow' boss
Nick Fray and Tim Wall
Activists and football fans came together to protest against the billionaire owner of Newcastle United and Sports Direct on 25 April.
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) campaigners, including Socialist Party members, joined Newcastle supporters in the demonstration against Mike Ashley. Events took place outside Sports Direct, the notorious zero-hour employer he also runs.
Fans are outraged by Ashley's cynical use of the club as a cash cow and to promote his leisurewear business, while almost allowing the club to slide into relegation. The protest was the latest in a succession of walkouts and boycotts by fans demanding changes to management.
Ashley's management of the club has been mired in controversy since he bought it in 2007 for some £135 million. He tried - unsuccessfully - to rename St James' Park "Sports Direct Arena". To add insult to injury, payday loan-shark firm Wonga is emblazoned on Newcastle shirts.
It's disgraceful that Ashley, the richest man in the North East with a fortune of £3.3 billion, says he can't afford to pay his workers a living wage. Last year, Sports Direct - the UK's largest sports retailer - reported a rise of 15% in pre-tax profits to £240 million.
TUSC supporters got a great response from fans and passers-by. Despite pouring rain, fans bought numerous copies of the Socialist, making generous donations including £10 notes.
Two TUSC supporters who went in-store to leaflet workers were escorted off the premises by guards. But our actions got a laugh and a cheer from fans holding a banner that read: "Newcastle United - balance sheet champions".
The best way to hit Ashley is by unionising his workers, fighting for decent wages and guaranteed hours at all Sports Direct workplaces.
In The Socialist 27 May 2015:
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