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Coordination And Unity Are The Key For Newcastle Fans

7 years ago

In my first ever article for The Mag, I talked about the relationship between [intlink id=”47033″ type=”post”]Mike Ashley, Pardew, Llambias and Kinnear,[/intlink] as well as a possible way to make Ashley sell our beloved club.

I’d now like to explore the possible way of making Ashley sell the club in more depth. Dean Wilkins’ excellent article mentioned how the [intlink id=”47187″ type=”post”]journalist Simon Bird tried to get Mr Ashley, [/intlink]the mute, to answer some questions on the relationship between NUFC and Sports Direct (SD).

In my opinion this strengthens the belief that the sole reason Ashley wishes to hold on to NUFC is purely as an advertising machine for his beloved baby, SD.

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I actually don’t think this was the reason why he bought the club, in fact I think when he first bought it he actually wanted to have a go at things and have some fun, but I think he greatly underestimated the costs involved in running a club, especially transfer fees and wages etc.

I do think however that ever since the last big TV deal was signed with Sky, he has decided that owning a club in the Premier League is a massive marketing and advertising asset.

The Premier league is shown in nearly every country in the world, with counless UK and overseas channels showing a choice of games. Even if no TV channel at home or in the pub is showing a particular game, you can bet there will be a live internet stream for every Premier League game.

This is what makes shirt logos, advertising boards and stadium naming rights such a big attraction for potential sponsors.

It is also plainly what appeals to Mr Ashley (despite the club trying to tell us no other company would be interested…!).

Every single home game the pictures that are broadcast are filled with SD advertising boards and large signs, even showing a simple shot of the stadium from afar will catch sight of the massive SD signs on the stands. This takes the brand name in to countries where they have never heard of Sports Direct.

Now I would imagine most people in the UK have heard of SD, but that hasn’t stopped Ashley buying a stake in Debenhams and House of Fraser with a view to holding talks about selling some of his brands in their shops or on their websites.

Ashley has also bought a stake in Mysale, who are Australian based but have now set up a UK website. Of course he also has deals with Oldham FC and Glasgow Rangers to sell his merchandise through them. This all points to the fact that Ashley is always looking at ways to expand SD, including looking at new countries to open a market share in. Ashley doesn’t just own SD, he has numerous sports brands and other non-sports clothing brands such as Firetrap.

Now in my first article I mentioned a boycott, something I know is contentious with fans and which some people jumped on.

The only reason I suggested a boycott was because it generates a news story, which in turn brings more reporters etc to SJP and gives a greater audience to the message that we wish to get across. The idea of a boycott was never a financial one as gate receipts do not add up to much.

However, a boycott is NOT needed in order to promote the protest message against SD, it just means the smuggling in of banners would be needed and people may be removed by stewards.

I previously mentioned that the only way I can see Ashley selling up would be if owning NUFC suddenly became a negative factor to him and they only way to make it a negative factor is by using it to protest against the one thing he loves the most, Sports Direct.

Now I’m not talking about singing songs and swearing at Ashley, even though it may be fun sometimes. Ashley has taken song after song and he clearly isn’t affected as his rather rotund frame is obviously very thickly skinned!

So the protest isn’t directed at Ashley personally or the ‘cockney Mafia’, it directed solely at SD.

The idea is pretty simple. Imagine every home game for the rest of this season and next season if it needs it, on a specified minute of the game or just before kick off, Newcastle fans hold up very large banners in each of the stands.

Those banners simply say;

‘Sports Direct sells cheap merchandise and its poorly paid workers are on zero hours contracts’

(I have worded it this way so there is no slanderous element, the merchandise is ‘cheap to buy’ and the zero hours workers side of things has been reported in the press heavily already. I’m sure somebody could word it better).

Now whenever any fan or supporters group are interviewed on TV or Radio about this they simply say something like;

“Sports Direct sells cheap merchandise and its poorly paid workers are on zero hours contracts. NUFC supporters are United in our belief that it is not in NUFC’s best interests to be associated with Sports Direct both morally and financially, with the free advertising on St James’ Park a massive commercial loss to the club. This message will be repeated at every game, home and away, until Mr Ashley decides to sell.”

If this message is caught on the cameras during the games and in the press every game, it will slowly build momentum and the story will gather pace.

In addition to this, if every fan website and group such as The MAG and NUST, sent out a coordinated statement like the one above (after agreeing its wording), perhaps the day of every game or perhaps even everyday (at exactly the same time), then this would appear on NewsNow and other outlets, again giving momentum to the story. The statement sent out on social media as well,  again at exactly the same time.

This won’t affect SD’s UK customer base as they already know about the company and decide to shop there, but it could put off potential customers and investors overseas. After profit and turnover, the next most important thing to a business is its reputation and branding. By questioning a business’ merchandise and the working conditions of its staff, you can definitely slowly damage that reputation.

You only have to watch programmes like Watchdog to see how quickly businesses will respond to bad publicity in order to protect their reputation.

So in short, no more bed sheets, swearing songs and fighting between fans. A coordinated, well mannered, non-personal, protest against Sports Direct, with determination to be in it for the long haul.

That I propose, is the only way to make Mike Ashley sell his advertising cash cow.

Even if Pardew is fired after the thrashing by Southampton the problems will remain because Ashley will only employ a ‘Yes Man’ manager, therefore Ashley has to go to.


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