Fans Need Different Approach On Mike Ashley
Unsurprisingly, Newcastle supporters are very angry at the moment. As angry as I have ever known (and I remember the Alan Suddick transfer). The anger is well founded and perfectly healthy, but perhaps it’s time to channel the anger into something that might produce a positive outcome for the club and fans.
The Wonga deal, the attempt at re-naming the stadium, the appointment of JK, and the transfer window debacle have led to a series of responses and demands from fans. Unfortunately, the responses are largely unfocused and unco-ordinated.
This is not the fault of fans. Supporters are not formally organised and have no single coherent, democratic voice. Yes there are fan groups, liaison committees, fanzines and websites, but nothing that can produce a single strategy and campaign with an agreed objective.
This might be why the fans have struggled to have any real influence on the club for years: decades in fact.
It will be impossible to achieve total unanimity amongst the fans. Part of the enjoyment is to have disagreements. But a starting point might be to produce a single objective (as part of a broader manifesto) that most of the fans can support and campaign for. This may be easier said than done, as so far fans are calling for Kinnear to go, Pardew to go, Ashley to go, or a combination of all three.
Different tactics are being used or called for. They include a fans boycott of matches, occupation of the ground, refusal to buy merchandise and other demonstrations of dissent. There is at least one online petition and social network sites are crammed with different demands, ideas and proposals.
What I am eventually getting to is this. What is the biggest single change we want to see at St James’ Park? How do we achieve that change?
I strongly believe that very little will change at the club unless there is a change of ownership. Without that happening nothing else can change.
A different manager or Director of Football might be a good thing but would mean very little if the ethos of the club under Mike Ashley remains unchanged.
So how can a new owner be found? How can MA be persuaded to sell the club?
First we need to increase the diplomacy and stop the abuse. It is tempting to abuse the owner but apart from making us feel better it doesn’t make Ashley listen to us. In fact it’s the opposite. He will not leave the club without taking his money with him and calling him a ‘fat cockney b******’ is likely to make him dig his heels in even further.
Secondly, we need to be getting a message to MA. Along these lines.
“Look, this just isn’t working. You clearly are not enjoying this and neither are we. Perhaps it would be better if we parted company and you were able to get the money you are owed. Why don’t we work together to bring this about?”
A longshot perhaps. Naive? Many will think so. Especially as MA does not talk directly to fans. Even worse he no longer has a go-between since Llambias left. But a different approach is surely worth trying. What’s the alternative? Pardew out and JK in? No thanks.
I hope this approach can at least be part of the debate about the future of the club.
There are the usual rumours about potential foreign buyers, particularly from owners of sports organisations in the US. Why don’t we try to stimulate further interest by showing how brilliant our fans are and by highlighting the massive potential of a club that is the 20th richest (highest turnover) in world football.
You can follow Rob on Twitter @Butsurelynot
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