Castore partners Newcastle United shake off the legacy of Rangers boogeyman Mike Ashley to secure a place in the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.

The Toon Army are heading to the continent amongst Europe’s elite, after a 0-0 draw with Leicester City guaranteed them Champions League football via the Premier League with a game to go.

It is an astonishing testament to the management of Eddie Howe that the Magpies have managed to punch so greatly above their weight, with the progress startling since investment from the Saudi Public Investment Fund in 2021.

Even if the Middle Eastern backers have billions in the bank, no one really foresaw such a sharp incline in the club’s fortunes following the tumultuous 14-year reign of one Mike Ashley.

Newcastle celebrate post-Ashley Champions League success

The Sports Direct tycoon sold his commanding stake in Newcastle United to the Saudis under two years ago and already they are heading for the bright lights of Champions League football.

It has been 20 years since the St James’ Park club, traditionally one of the biggest and more fiercely loyal in the English game, have played at this level.

For the bulk of that time, the club’s supporters have been embroiled in protests against Ashley amid relegations, promotions and startling yet somewhat accepted mediocrity in the boardroom.

Rangers fans know all too well the impact Ashley and his corporate vision can have on a club, with the Gers still shelling out even this season to rid themselves of a figure who has become the Ibrox boogeyman.

Crippling retail contracts obliterated the club’s merchandising operations for almost a generation and, as Rangers finally begin to rebuild with Castore – who namechecked Rangers as being a big influence on signing their own deal with the Toon – the impact is still being felt.

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It wasn’t only in the retail operations that Rangers felt the impact of Ashley, with the club, like Newcastle, often being used as a vessel for tacky promotions of the Sports Direct brand.

After the signs had already come down around Ibrox, there was a feeling of mutual pleasure when Newcastle supporters celebrated joyously following Ashley’s exit from the club.

Rangers fans will now congratulate them on their Champions League qualification success, as the post-Ashley legacy of Newcastle continues to shine negatively on the billionaire’s ownership of the club.

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