By Kieran Maguire

16th May, 2021 | 6:00pm

Kieran Maguire makes 'awkward' Ashley claim at Newcastle as government doc reveals all

Mike Ashley was always going to squeeze the furlough scheme for all it was worth at Newcastle United. 

That is according to finance guru and Football Insider columnist Kieran Maguire, speaking exclusively after figures were released showing Newcastle claimed between £100,001 and £250,000 in February, the most recent set of data available.

The Athletic report that Newcastle continue to receive state funds despite having never publicly acknowledged their use of the scheme.

Sheffield United and Southampton have also opted to continue accessing furlough money.

Maguire claims that it is no surprise that Ashley continues to make use of the government initiative.

He told Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams: “There is a case for saying that if football clubs are legally permitted to use furlough, what’s all the fuss about?

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“The furlough scheme’s proper title is the ‘job retention scheme’. If in the long term this helps to retain jobs in Newcastle, you can see the benefit.

“From Mike Ashley’s point of view, he’s desperate to sell Newcastle. If this is a way of getting some more money into the club, why would he not do it?

“If he’s coped with all the criticism that’s come his way historically, this will be water off a duck’s back.

“It’s an awkward one, however. It looks uncomfortable.

“The sums involved are actually quite small. If it’s £100,000-a-month for a year, it works out as around 1.5 per cent of the total wage bill.

“For the clubs that have turned it down, they have probably benefitted in terms of their relationship with the fans.

“Ashley has no relationship with the Newcastle fans that can ever be resurrected. So he’s just said: ‘Sod you lot, I’ll do what’s best for my wallet’.”

In other news, Newcastle United eyeing Leeds star as price tag revealed.