Rio Ferdinand has been widely criticised for defending Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s running of the club.
The retired defender was working for BT Sport as a pundit ahead of the Magpies’ game at Chelsea on Saturday when presenter Jake Humphrey asked him for his opinion.
“It’s got nothing to do with business dealings I’ve got with his company,” said Ferdinand, whose Five brand is available to buy at Sports Direct, a sports-goods retailer founded by Ashley.
“I just think that when they went down, he spent £50-odd million to get them back up, of his own money. ‘Thank you’, that should be.”
Humphrey questioned Ferdinand’s comments, asking: “Wasn’t it Newcastle’s money that they generated in their time in the Premier League?” to which Ferdinand replied: “Well, he’s the owner.”
The 40-year-old went on to say Newcastle fans should be grateful Ashley appointed Rafael Benitez as manager, also describing the north-east side as “a yo-yo club” and adding: “He wants to sell the club, why should he go and spend millions of pounds?”
The video received thousands of replies from angry fans of Newcastle as well as supporters of other teams.
Newcastle had the lowest net spend in the Premier League during pre-season, and currently find themselves in the relegation zone after a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
The club also reportedly turned a profit last summer thanks to player sales.
Ferdinand appeared to double down on his comments on Sunday however, tweeting: “@NUFC fans good morning to you all!! Ya clubs turning a profit, no debt, oh and playing in the PL! Terrible!”
Ashley has been in control of Newcastle United for more than a decade, and has so far failed in his attempts to sell the club.