Jim Smith told Sky Sports News that Mike Ashley's handling of Newcastle has been like "a crime".
Smith not impressed by Newcastle owner
Former Newcastle boss Jim Smith has described Mike Ashley's handling of the club as "a crime".
Ashley took control at St James' Park from Freddy Shepherd in 2007 and was initially regarded as a popular owner, endearing himself to the home supporters with acts such as sitting in the stands and wearing a replica shirt.
His decision to install Kevin Keegan as manager was also a popular move on Tyneside, but following Keegan's departure at the start of last season, the club's form suffered and they were eventually relegated from the Premier League.
Ashley announced plans to sell the club last September, but has been unable to find a buyer and earlier this week the Singapore-based Profitable Group withdrew their interest after being unable to provide proof they could fund the £100million needed to purchase the club.
Smith, who managed Newcastle from 1988-91, admits he is frustrated by the situation and said Ashley's handling of the club has lacked professionalism.
He told Sky Sports News
:"It originally happened and the guy went in with all of that money and we all thought 'this is it, this is a tremendous opportunity for Newcastle to hit the big time'.
"They are a big-time club and they're a fantastic team with fantastic support.
"But obviously he went in there with no plan, no professionalism and it's gone downhill ever since. It's a crime.
"Hopefully the right owners can come in and sort it out because everybody knows Newcastle should be in the Premier League and challenging for honours."