Newcastle's 16-year spell in the Premier League came to an end as Damien Duff's own goal doomed them to a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa.
Duff deflected a 38th-minute shot from stand-in Villa skipper Gareth Barry past his own goalkeeper Steve Harper to seal their fate.
It meant Magpies legend Alan Shearer had failed to work the miracle he was brought in to try and achieve with eight games remaining.
Now Shearer has to decide whether he wants to take on the task of trying to help the Magpies regain their top flight status and is due to have talks with Ashley early next week.
He clearly has a massive rebuilding job ahead of them with the future of 15 players, reportedly on £50,000 or more a week, to be sorted out ahead of the less glamorous life of trips to Peterborough and Scunthorpe in the Championship.
For Villa they can look back on another season of progression despite a late fade-out after automatically qualifying for Europe for the first time in 11 years. But Martin O'Neill will need to add further quality and quantity to his squad in the summer if he is to seriously challenge for a Champions League place.