Rio Ferdinand comes under fire for Mike Ashley defence on BT Sport 6 months ago

Rio Ferdinand comes under fire for Mike Ashley defence on BT Sport

The BT Sport pundit claimed that he 'understands' Mike Ashley's refusal to spend with the club up for sale

Rio Ferdinand defended Mike Ashley's unwillingness to make funds available to Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez ahead of their game against Chelsea on Saturday.

Before the game kicked off on BT Sport, the former Manchester United defender said that he "understood" the decision to be frugal, adding that Newcastle fans should be "thankful" for investment in the club when they were in the Championship.

"When they went down, he spent £50m of his own money to get them up," he said. "By the way, please say thank you for getting Rafa Benítez in! They're lucky to have him!"

Ferdinand added: "I understand Rafa’s frustrations because as a manager you want the ability to go out and spend money, but they’re not in that position.

"At the same time I understand Mike Ashley. Why is he going to spend more and more money - millions and millions of pounds - when he’s actually looking to sell the club? He’s got them to a point now where they’re back in the Premier League and they’re consolidating to a certain extent.

"He’s not going to go spend his own money. You wouldn’t go spend your own money now knowing you were trying to sell something unless you knew you were going to get that back."

Ferdinand then went on to say: "It’s not easy to sell a football club. He’s got a price and he’s going to wait to get it. He’s spent money at that football club, he’s just not going to spend it at this time.

"All these fans, they do dream, and they dream big and I understand that. What are Newcastle’s aims? They can’t be aiming at being a Man Utd or a Man City. They’ve got to aim to be a Bournemouth. They’ve only just started spending.

"I’m not saying everything they’re doing is correct. What I’m saying is, I think Mike Ashley, you can’t hammer him and say that he should be spending when he wants to sell the club. You wouldn’t spend on your house when you want to sell it."

However, fans on social media were less than impressed by Rio's remarks.