In 2007, Newcastle fans rejoiced as Mike Ashley completed his takeover of the club and vowed to kickstart an era of success on Tyneside.
The retail tycoon promised to bring the glory days back to St James’ Park and immediately struck gold with the fans by handing club legend Kevin Keegan the reins as manager.
But his tenure has been anything but a success. From the shambolic renaming of the ground to the shocking treatment of Jonas Gutierrez, you’d be hard tasked to find a more unpopular owner in world football.
However, there is, at last, some cause for optimism at St James’ Park as the Saudi Arabian public investment fund, led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, nears its £300m purchase of the club.
The takeover will see Newcastle become the richest side in the Premier League – but Magpies fans will know not to get their hopes up until the last dotted line has been signed.
Perhaps Ashley’s biggest criticisms was his perceived lack of ambition in the transfer window, and in light of his tenure coming to an end, talkSPORT.com looks at his worst signings of his 13-year ownership…
The Frenchman was signed for £5m from Bordeaux and was handed a five-year contract as Newcastle tried to stave off relegation in 2016.
Incredibly, he cost £1m for every Premier League appearance and is STILL at the club, with Steve Bruce making a desperate a plea for a club to swoop in for the 29-year-old to no avail last summer.
Siem de Jong
The Magpies signed the Dutch forward from Ajax for £6m in 2014 and was handed a six-year contract by the club – meaning he would still be at the club now.
However, he returned to Amsterdam in 2017 having scored just twice in 26 appearances in all competitions.
Another French player who was handed a five-year contract on big wages when he signed from Rennes in 2011.
The attacker ended up scoring one goal in 39 Premier League appearances over three seasons before returning to France in 2014, on loan at Guingamp before heading to Lorient in 2016.
The forward joined the club for £15m from Marseille in 2015 with plenty of promise but, for one reason or another, struggled to make an impact or even score in the Premier League.
The winger has since emerged as one of the best players in France, having thrived on his return to Marseille and earning ten caps for the national team.
The Magpies swooped in to sign the Spaniard for £5.7m in September 2008 after he impressed in LaLiga – but the transfer turned out to be a disaster.
He made nine appearances and scored one goal in FIVE years at the club, despite being one of the highest earners.
Rafa Benitez made the plunge to sign the goalkeeper from Gent for £6.5m in 2016 but he was dropped after nine matches for some poor displays between the sticks.
The Belgium shot-stopper then moved on to Anderlecht on loan followed by Strasbourg permanently.
Another striker who failed to deliver the goods. Riviere made 26 Premier League appearances and found the net just once after signing from Monaco in 2014.
He was then offloaded to Metz in 2017 and managed to find his goal-scoring touch. What is it with strikers and Newcastle?
Ashley appeared to have a thing for signing French players, have you noticed?
Cabella joined the Mapgpies for £8m from Montpellier in 2014, scoring once in 31 matches before returning to France for Marseille.
Newcastle did well to recoup £6m for his services in 2016.
Ignacio Nacho Gonzalez
The ex-Uruguay international arrived at St James’ Park on a loan deal from Valencia in 2008, with Kevin Keegan reportedly ‘forced’ to sign him.
He made two appearances before returning to Spain and he is now plying his trade with Uruguayan side Montevideo.
The Japanese striker arrived from Mainz for £9.5m in 2018 and the move has been a total disaster.
He has scored just once in 24 Premier League outings and hasn’t even forced his way into the XI over Joelinton, who has also had a torrid time since his move from the Bundesliga last summer.