With only hours to go before kick-off, there are still thousands of unsold seats for Newcastle v Man Utd.

Sadly, the biggest attraction of the season, with the exception of the derby match, will be played out in front of a crowd that is almost certain to be lower than the one (51,573) that watched United against Aston Villa on Saturday.

While TV and a starting price of £42 have undoubtedly not helped, there is another extra Mike Ashley angle which will almost guarantee these empty seats aren’t filled.

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In the past, if you didn’t have a season ticket then the following happened.

The match by match tickets would go on sale to members a few weeks before a game, then when they’d had the chance to buy, the tickets then left would go on sale to the general public.

However, in his greed to tie people to the club and get even more money long-term, Mike Ashley has changed this.

For games where he thinks he can sell all tickets to season ticket holders and members, he is refusing to let them go on sale to the general public. This is the case for Arsenal in a few weeks time and for Manchester United tonight.

There are currently tickets unsold for tonight in all four stands and pretty much every single section of the ground. In some there are just single seats but in others there are rows of seats.

So if you want to go to the match tonight and you aren’t already a member, it would cost you a minimum of £77 to get in, £42 for a ticket and £35 for a year’s membership, even if it is the only game you want to go to or can get to, in the next 12 months.

Mike Ashley would rather have rows of empty seats tonight and try to force as few more fans to buy memberships (or buy season tickets).

When you think of all the TV riches pouring into Mike Ashley’s pocket, it is an absolute disgrace that he is happy to preside over this situation.

To think that earlier in the season Newcastle United were happy to milk the PR they got for supposedly being the cheapest Premier League club for tickets, thanks to the misleading info supplied to the BBC survey.

Our club has poison running through it and the fact the owner is happy to see empty seats as the price of his greed and control, sums up everything that is wrong at St. James’ Park.

There is no (acceptable) logic to what Ashley has done for this match, members have clearly had their fill of how many tickets they wanted, so why can’t these tickets go on general sale?