Rob Lee has claimed that Newcastle United "does not feel" like a big club anymore and feels that players "don't want to play" for the Magpies.
The Tynesiders were promoted from the Championship last term but currently sit just two points above the Premier League relegation zone.
Speaking to BBC Sport, former Magpies stalwart Lee said: "There is no point in Newcastle getting into the Premier League then keeping the same players that got them there.
"Sometimes you need better players. Bournemouth and Watford have both spent more than us. Newcastle is a huge club but it does not feel like that anymore, people don't want to play for them anymore.
"We were challenging the top teams like Manchester United and Arsenal, had trips to Europe, but it all seems so far away now. It is a shame. The club has been in decline for such a long time.
"Mike Ashley takes one step forward and then three giant steps backwards. It is time now for change, we need change, we need someone else to take the helm.
"It has become a stalemate. It is complicated with Ashley wanting a certain amount but prospective buyers are only willing to pay a certain amount because of what they value the club."
Since Ashley's takeover in 2007, the Magpies have twice been relegated from the top flight before returning at the first attempt.