Newcastle Attendances To Dip Below 40,000 Next Season
I take no pleasure in stating my belief that Newcastle attendances will fall below 40,000 next season.
To me, any empty seat is a sad sight at St.James’ Park, but I am simply the messenger and saying what I see and hear.
Many pundits, journalists and fans see that crowds stayed at the fifty thousand mark, even for the last game against Cardiff, and can’t understand why myself and others see worrying undercurrents of what could be just around the corner.
That is the nature of modern Premier League football, not like when myself and many of you paid match by match to stand on the terraces – back in the seventies and eighties it was only a very small proportion who would and could pay for a full season up front.
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This week the Chronicle have reported that their recent survey suggests up to half of season ticket holders have not renewed/may not renew for next season.
Alternatively, the club made a convoluted claim via their recent fans forum when they were asked;
“How many season ticket holders have not renewed for next season?”
‘The board stated approximately 6% of season ticket holders had not renewed to date – similar to previous seasons.’
While some of you find it difficult to believe anything the club says these days, it also seemed a strange statement to make in the way it was worded.
Surely it would make more sense to have said what percentage had renewed so far, rather than giving a figure of how many ‘had not renewed to date’.
What happened after this statement was that a lot of the media have reported it as 94% of season ticket holders have renewed, which is not what the club have claimed, once you take away the spin!
Even though there has been no clarification from the club (as usual), where they are probably using that 6% figure from is with reference to those on longer term price freeze deals, who had to cancel in January/February if they didn’t want to go next season. Even then I very much doubt only ‘approximately’ 6% hadn’t renewed of those on long-term deals.
With only the club holding that information, it is only anecdotal evidence you can go on otherwise, but there is an awful lot.
What I have sensed and heard in recent months isn’t the usual ‘I’m fed up with them man, no way I’m going next season’ type of crack.
Instead it has been countless fans saying how going to the matches is simply a joyless experience these days, with just Premier League survival and getting out of the cups as quickly as possible, the only objectives.
On top of this the football was terrible for much of the season, with only really Villa (A), Cardiff (A), Liverpool (H), Chelsea (H), Manchester United (A), Palace (A), West Ham (A) and Hull (A) counting as games that Newcastle played well in. To then play most of the last three months without any Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Remy in the team, just about finished most people off in terms of getting even a little enjoyment from watching the team on the pitch – let alone the miserable agenda off it.
Whatever the club say, I find it impossible to believe that there will be no more people than usual not renewing their season tickets for next season. The mood is poisonous and unless something truly positive happens then crowds are sure to go down next season, the only question being by how much?
The lowest home crowd in this past season was 46,402 against Fulham back in August, while the lowest one at St.James’ Park in the season they finished fifth was 42,684, also against Fulham in August (2012).
For some gates to fall below the 40,000 mark in the coming season, I think it would need something over 6,000 (of the approximately 40,000) season ticket holders to have turned their backs on Mike Ashley’s running of Newcastle United.
I think it is a really depressing situation whereby the vast majority of fans, whether they are going to continue going to home matches or not nest season, feel that probably the only way anything will change is if the ground was half empty.
Sadly, that appears to be where Ashley is taking us by sucking out any excitement, enthusiasm or dreams we once had, the only question is how quickly he is going to drag us down to the level of Sunderland or Villa with parts of the stadium embarrassingly empty on a regular basis.
As for me? I pulled out of the ten year deal in January as I couldn’t stand the thought of him knowing he could count on my money/vote. I am undecided as to whether to go on a match by match basis at the moment and whether I do will depend more on how I feel come August than the players that we do(n’t) sign.
I don’t blame anybody for going or not going, you just have to do what your circumstances dictate.
I just wish it wasn’t such a soulless experience these days for all of us.
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