No I’m not talking about with the Mackems, that rivalry amongst fans will always remain, thankfully.
I am talking about the constant comments from NUFC fans on various blogs and fan websites (especially in the comments section here at the Mag) aimed at each other, namely those that have stopped going to games (or have never/can’t attend games) and those that continue to attend.
First of all, I am in the ‘no longer attend’ category, I had a season ticket for over 15 years but temporarily stopped going when Fat Sam was here, I was going to go back but then Keegan left because of Ashley and Wise…the rest is history.
Apart from a few away games since that period, all my viewing of the lads has been on Sky/BT or Internet streams, at various venues, but despite the poor football I’ve never stopped watching.
There are many, many, fans that have continued to go to games throughout Ashley’s reign and will continue to do so.
However, for some fans, sick of Ashley, various managers and various players, they see this as a step too far, they see it as supporting Ashley’s regime and everything that goes with it.
A popular reason put forward against the fans that still attend is that;
“50,000+ turning up every week are just putting money in Ashley’s pocket and making us all look like muppets.”
This is usually then followed by things like;
“An empty stadium will hit Ashley where it hurts, it will send out a message to everyone and be bad publicity for him.”
I sympathise with this view, I really do, but I believe it to be based on poor assumptions. I will try and explain why…
An empty/half empty stadium will hit Ashley’s pocket – not really, the season ticket money has already been collected, actual match day ticket sales, merchandise and catering sales are all pretty small these days compared to TV money and so no longer play as an important source of income as they used to be.
As a side note to this, it only actually affects the club’s pocket not Ashley’s, we know he doesn’t like to put his own money on the line, therefore everything the club can generate without his involvement is needed, especially as money seems to magically disappear at SJP.
An empty/half empty stadium will be bad publicity for Ashley and his businesses – again I disagree, although I do think fan action, including protests are needed, I just don’t think an empty or half empty stadium will have enough of the desired effect.
As mentioned above, the Season Ticket money has already been collected and the match day ticket sales and other sales aren’t big enough money, even if it went on for several games. The reason for this is the massive amount of money every club gets from the Premier League because of the TV deal, it is guaranteed that before the season starts and then gets extra based on the number of live games on Sky or BT – Ashley/The Club get this TV money regardless of how many fans turn up.
In terms of publicity, whether the stadium is full, half empty or empty, the cameras pick up on every single Sports Direct sign regardless; they are all over our beloved SJP and remain there morning, noon and night.
Every time there is a TV camera at the ground Ashley has his free advertising, it doesn’t matter if there isn’t a soul there, his beloved Sports Direct logo is beamed worldwide.
I have written on The Mag in the past at what I feel would be the best way to attract bad publicity for Ashley, it involves a full stadium and sole concentration on making Sports Direct toxic, but I don’t want to get into that now.
To finish off I want to say why there is a much more important reason why an empty or half empty stadium is a bad thing, regardless of whether it was affecting Ashley’s pocket or his businesses reputation.
It is why I actually want to applaud the fans who continue to attend the games and I don’t think it’s fair to accuse them of supporting the regime or being happy with the manager, poor players, Wonga etc (in fact I’m sure they’re as sick as other fans are).
The reason; Quite simply the players need you.
Imagine if the players didn’t have the support from the crowd, especially over the past few seasons – we would have been relegated a long ago. That support includes giving them a kick up the backside and letting them know when they are rubbish. It all helps focus their minds, it makes them aware we know what is an expected level of performance and effort, even if lately they haven’t took much notice!
When we have a team with a lot of foreigners with no ties to the region, it is important to show them what it means to the fans that they do well for the club. Players would lose heart even quicker if they walked out the tunnel at SJP to nobody cheering them on, or chanting their names.
It would soon be a case of;
“There’s no one to cheer me or boo me, why should I bother playing well, I want to move elsewhere… I’ll get a transfer regardless of any relegation.”
I also don’t subscribe to the ‘relegation might be good’ camp. Football has moved on a lot since we were in the Championship and last time we had a core of British and experienced foreign players, some of which understood the gravity of a club the size of Newcastle being relegated, so they made sure we got promoted back straight away. I don’t think many players would hang around this time.
So I say let’s end these snide comments from both sides, accept we are all fed up and all support the club in our own way.
Instead let’s remember that it is our club and we will continue to show support from SJP, our sofas, pubs, clubs and anywhere else we can.
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