Mike Ashley (centre) watching Newcastle United
Mike Ashley (centre) watching Newcastle UnitedGetty Images

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has admitted he "regrets" buying the Premier League club. The 51-year-old Sports Direct owner, who bought the club in 2007, has backed their newly appointed manager Rafael Benitez to steer the Magpies clear of relegation and revealed he has no intention of selling his controlling interest in the St James' Park club.

Ashley's management of Newcastle has been widely criticised by supporters, but the businessman has insisted he is in for the long haul. Indeed, Ashley said he and the fans are "wedded together through the good times and the bad".

"Do I regret getting into football? The answer is yes," said the Newcastle owner, according to The Mirror. "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 can do the business and keep us up there."

Despite this, Ashley insisted that irrespective of whether the club is relegated, he will not sell his controlling interest in the Magpies. "I have no choice. They've got me, and I've got them. That is the way it is," the Newcastle owner shared.

Newcastle were held to a 1-1 draw by Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday (20 March), leaving both clubs' Premier League status in a precarious position. However, Ashley is not unduly alarmed by their situation, even though they are currently 19th in the table.

"It's disappointing because I personally want to win every game for Newcastle United. It doesn't matter who they are playing. But it is not a disaster," he said.