Mike Ashley’s Latest Stunt Takes Austerity To Whole New Level
Given the toxic atmosphere that engulfed the club at the tail end of last season, the feel-good factor that has returned to Newcastle United this summer has been somewhat unexpected.
Rafts of new players have arrived – and not just token signings to bulk up what was quite a threadbare squad. Quality players with a proven pedigree like France winger Rémy Cabella and former Ajax captain Siem de Jong, have been joined by exciting prospects with plenty of potential, like the young Spanish forward Ayoze Pérez and the Frenchman Emmanuel Rivière.
Not only that but a midfield that sometimes lacked a bit of trademark British bite and aggression has been bolstered by the arrival of local lad Jack Colback, who has been snatched away from arch-rivals Sunderland on a free transfer.
Newcastle did a lot of their business early, the new arrivals have bedded in nicely and pre-season results have been steady. Basically, everything was going swimmingly… and what usually happens when everything is going swimmingly at Newcastle United? That’s right, Mike Ashley likes to spice things up a little.
Ashley’s latest stunt has been to withdraw the club’s backroom staff’s quota of complimentary match day tickets. Customarily, these members of staff are each given four complimentary tickets for first team games but, for some unknown reason, Newcastle’s owner has taken exception to the practice and the free tickets have been withdrawn at his request.
It’s difficult to gauge just how many members of staff have been affected by this new policy. The club’s official website lists the coaching staff as consisting of just seven members, but the more informative unofficial site www.nufc.com lists a backroom team of sixteen members, while Wikipedia comes up with a list of 26 names.
Staff members further down the ladder, like the kitmen for instance, have also seen their allocation of two free tickets snatched away from them, in a move that has not gone down well behind the scenes at St James’ Park.
A man more at ease with a balance sheet than a thesaurus, it seems that ‘convention’ and ‘courtesy’ are simply not part of Ashley’s lexicon. Least of all when dozens and dozens of non-revenue providing bums are sat on potentially revenue providing seats each week.
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