Extend Hand Of Friendship To Mike Ashley?
After my previous foray into the relationship between the City Council and the Football Club which caused quite a stir amongst some of my fellow Councillors, I broach this subject yet again with a degree of apprehension.
However, I was delighted to be invited to attend a presentation evening recently for the Newcastle United Football Foundation and this reinforced to me the tremendous work that goes on in the community in the name of the club.
It was a source of some discomfort to my distinguished fellow guest and prominent political figure in the city that we were surrounded by the infamous ‘W’ word of the sponsor but nevertheless she was also able to acknowledge the benefits that the Foundation brings to so many families and youngsters, in some of the more disadvantaged neighbourhoods of the area.
It is not my intention to comment on the level of passion for the club amongst the most leading figures in the Civic Centre, as I realise that thereby leads the path to further indiscretions on my part. However, as an avid Newcastle fan myself and a lifelong football follower, I realise the benefits that a successful club can bring to both the city and the surrounding area.
With support often in excess of fifty thousand at most home games of which a significant proportion are followers of the away team, then we have an asset here that we as a Council sometimes appear reluctant to fully support.
Mike Ashley does himself few favours on occasions with his apparently eccentric approach to both running the club and his Sports Direct business, but we have far more chance of exerting a positive influence over his affairs, if we occasionally extend the hand of friendship rather than the barbs of criticism that often seem to be the case.
I therefore live in hope that better times lie ahead.
Cllr Rob Higgins (Benwell-Scotswood – Newcastle City Council)
To find out more about how the Newcastle United Foundation is using the power of football to change the lives of thousands of young people, adults and families across the region each year, please visit www.nufc.co.uk/foundation
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