Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has warned there is no money remaining to be invested in the north-east club and admitted he regrets buying the Magpies back in 2007.
However, he also indicated he will stick with Newcastle even if they are relegated at the end of the current Premier League season, per Simon Bird and Graham Hiscott of the Mirror:
All I say is, there is a bank account, when you have emptied it, it’s empty, don’t come crying to me for more money. [...]
Do I regret getting into football? The answer is yes. I have had tonnes of fun in it but I haven’t been able to make the difference I wanted to in football like I have at Sports Direct. I wanted to help Newcastle, I wanted to make it better, that’s what I wanted to do. I haven’t seemed to have had that affect. Let’s hope Rafa [Benitez] can do the business and keep us up there.
I have no choice. They’ve got me, and I’ve got them. That is the way it is.
When asked how much money was left in the Newcastle coffers, Ashley replied: "Virtually nothing now. They have emptied it."
Following a 1-1 draw against local rivals Sunderland last time out, Newcastle lie 19th in the English top flight and three points from safety.
The equation is fairly simple now, with two of Newcastle, Sunderland and Norwich City likely to join Aston Villa in the Championship next season, but the Magpies still have a chance of staying up, per Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe:
The club have already been relegated once during Ashley's tenure—back in 2009—and he had to shell out £40 million to help Newcastle return to the Premier League at the first attempt, which they duly did.
His time as owner has been a largely unhappy one, with Ashley often accused of bringing a "toxic" atmosphere to the club, failing to invest properly in players and using Newcastle as a commercial entity, per Scott Wilson in the Northern Echo.
Will Newcastle be relegated from the Premier League at the end of the season?
However, he cannot be accused of blocking signings this season.
Per Bird and Hiscott, the Magpies have spent £80 million on new players since last summer, bringing in the likes of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jonjo Shelvey, which Ashley said proved the club are having "a proper go at it this season."
But the Toon have been poor and are deservedly fighting for Premier League safety.
Exciting appointment for @NUFC What a coup! Let's just hope Rafa is allowed to do what he needs to do-manage!— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) March 11, 2016
The Spaniard's first two games in charge have returned just a single point—a defeat to league leaders Leicester City preceding the Sunderland draw—and Newcastle have still not won a Premier League game since an early-February defeat of West Bromwich Albion.
Benitez has eight games remaining to lead Newcastle to safety, and given the quality in the squad after decent investment this year, it is far from a lost cause.
Whether they stay up or go down, though, Ashley is never likely to be popular at St. James' Park, and the Daily Mail's Craig Hope criticised the timing of the 51-year-old's latest comments:
Latest Mike Ashley interview hardly aids the NUFC survival cause. Very negative & paints bleak picture for the future. Timing is shocking.— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) March 21, 2016
He rarely gives interviews, and it does seem odd that he should start speaking publicly now at such a crucial stage of the season.
However, he clearly does not intend to quit the club and will commiserate or celebrate at the end of the season depending on how things pan out.