There are 47,763 reasons why Mike Ashley is still at Newcastle United.

While fans at the match would have been commenting on the empty spaces at St. James’ Park on Sunday for the Stoke match, the fact is that we are just all so used to fifty thousand crowds that we don’t realise quite how mental it all is.

United posted the biggest crowd anywhere in English football over the weekend, yet in the pubs beforehand, all the people I spoke to were looking at it as a chore to go to the match.

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If they hadn’t already paid for it, I got the feeling them would have preferred to stay in the bar rather than trail up the hill to St. James’ Park.

Here are the Premier League attendances for Saturday and Sunday;

47,763 Newcastle v Stoke

45,233 Man City v Hull

39,621 Everton v Liverpool

35,969 Villa v Chelsea

35,659 Spurs v Arsenal

34,499 West Ham v Man Utd

31,695 Leicester v Crystal Palace

20,355 Swansea v Sunderland

18,082 QPR v Southampton

16,904 Burnley v West Brom

John Hall said that it had been made clear to him that the primary reason for Mike Ashley buying the club was to promote his brands, especially Sports Direct, both domestically via TV, but especially to help with expansion plans around the World, with the Premier League attracting a worldwide TV audience.

I don’t want to turn this into fans arguing about whether you are stupid for still going to games or a traitor if you no longer go. It isn’t any of our faults that we have been landed with an owner like Mike Ashley.

What is obvious to me though is that Ashley targeted Newcastle almost exclusively because of the fanbase. His plan of promoting Sports Direct and the rest through TV, only really works when there are lots of fans as a backdrop to his adverts.

If there were rows of empty seats behind the advertising hoardings then it devalues the brands/products being promoted. Companies want to be associate with success and while United never win trophies, in marketing terms having your products sitting alongside packed terraces does equal success, albeit a slightly different kind.

Trying to bully fans into a boycott will never work when the overwhelming number have season tickets. There is no magic answer.

However, with five thousand empty seats (mainly hidden higher up from the TV cameras) on Sunday, the cracks may be starting to appear, there were thousands of empty £20 (£5 for kids) seats so you can hardly claim fans were priced out of this one.

The situation can’t continue because of the lack of entertainment and longer term hope, Newcastle fans will eventually say enough is enough and stay away.

Then Mike Ashley will definitely go.

What happens to our club afterwards and whether supporters would come back after being so sickened, is anybody’s guess.

Once a habit, especially a bad one(!), is broken then people, even football fans, can get used to a different lifestyle.


  • Paul Soulsby

    So why has he bought into the huns ?, there were 40’000 empty seats at Ibrox yesterday

  • toastman77

    First season I haven’t been since 1992,the club has died a sad painful death.feel like its the only option left,no matter how painful

  • mrkgw

    Mike Ashley is undoubtedly the worst thing to ever happen to NUFC. He has stiffled, and sapped all energy from suporters, removed enthusiasm, weakened the team, installed a shocker of a head coach/manager and and underinvested at every opportunity. Akin to a parasite. There was no atmosphere at the ground yesterday and that screen does little to help, the scratchy noise from it pre match sounds awful. Those huge flags waved by grounsdtaff when a goal is scored are also the pits. St James used to be a cathedral of football. It used to have class and generate its own atmosphere. Ashley has killed the club – its on its knees and its devastating to see. Amazing city, people/supporters. Despicable man in Mike Ashley.

  • toastman77

    Here a tower shining bright once stood gleaming in the night,where now there’s just the rubble in a hole

  • DZA187

    Fans turn up each week, most of them wearing wonga shirts to support the board. How wonder the fatman is laughing, as no one will make a stand and boycott.

  • Stevie Aces Renforth

    Very true

  • Gordan Nufc Burke

    horrible position for the fans to b in, but as long as they keep turning up, he will stay ,

  • Willvenus1

    11,422 at Rangers yesterday. That drew far more media attention than the fact it was Raith Rovers first win at Ibrox since 1959. Empty seats would eventually work

  • Sickandtiredstill

    Exactly the same reason he wants Rangers. Fan base and exposure.
    ST holders, either don’t renew (which plainly some didn’t including myself) or suck it up and write it off. 
    There is only one way to damage Ashley and that is to damage SD and brand. He’s dragging it through the mud with Rangers and faces a possible Parliamentary hearing because of the USC fiasco.
    The man is weaker now than he has ever been and it;s time to get in his face. Who knows, SD may themselves decide enough is enough of him too.

  • newcastle7

    Been in crowds of six and seven thousand at St Jame’s and boycotts only made things worse nearly ended up in division three.Now crowd revenue is loose change in the clubs pocket .Instead of moaning get out and support the team starting at Palace on Wednesday also still tickets left for Villa at home so buy them quick
    before its to late.

  • toonterrier

    I have a season ticket which is paid for. The only person to lose out if I stay away this season is me. I wont buy anything from his shops and haven’t for several years I dont buy food and drink in the grounds but I go to support the team. Whether I return next season is still in the balance but hopefully by then the greedy git will either sell up or move up north. He’ll get his just rewards evenually but it cant come soon enough for the club and the supporters.

  • Shotley Mag

    Sam you are correct, there is no magic answer. I have not yet boycotted but have also never bought any NUFC merchandise or even a Kit Kat in the overpriced snack bars at SJP during Ashley’s regime. I wear the old fashioned “Jackie Milburn” type bought from somewhere like TOFFS.  Ashley gets my season ticket money and not a penny for anything else.
    I notice that the home shirt is on sale from club stores at £48.00 for an adult size. I dread to think how much it costs to produce these – £3 or £4 each? Ashley pockets the same as my season ticket costs by selling only 
    around 10 of these shirts. I therefore despair when I see thousands upon thousands of people wearing their recently bought Wonga shirt. 
    One quick comment – everyone says he is only interested in fan base and the exposure it brings. Why is he involved with Oldham Athletic then? This is not a rhetorical question – I must have missed something somewhere.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    me as well. But the fact is back then the club was reliant to a large extent on gate receipts. 
    Stop moaning and you accept things as they are. Can’t do that anymore.

  • Brownale69

    Would he and his cronies be able to go to a Rangers game??? They wont put up with what we do!

  • SimonM68

    Sam – in all honesty, it wasn’t dire – it was just a run of the mill average game with two distinctly average mid-table teams with litte to play for, half way through the season – exactly what Fat Mike wants us to be I’m afraid.
    Most of the seats that were empty were dotted about so TV won’t pick that up, and then there were the 2 big blocks up in the Leazes (which could easily be seen as Stoke not bothering to turn up rather than anything reflecting on Newcastle fans).
    The Rangers situation is the only hope we have of getting rid in my opinion, so lets hope it pans out, but I don’t think it’s as bad on the pitch as a fair few are making out on here today – certainly not ‘dire’ Or maybe it’s because the sun is shining today and I’m feeling spring-like eh….

  • LeazesEnder

    newcastle7 …..before its too late….oh its too late!

    Where is this St Jame?

  • Toonbadger

    newcastle7 No thanks I`d rather give it to Charity

  • Rollyp

    There are lots of things going on at Rangers including the smaller crowd yesterday , protests etc. Yet, still Ashley is pressing ahead for, eventually full control (although he seems well placed anyway now). So what would make him leave? Only he knows.

  • No Brainer

    mrkgw Jimmy Crawford, Darren McDoungh?

  • Sickandtiredstill

    No Brainer Ahhhh, here you are. Don’t like his opinion either then?

  • Big Kevsy

    booooo toon fans boooooo

  • Sickandtiredstill

    Shotley Mag On Oldham – a Pozzo type plan at some point perhaps?
    By giving money in the form of sponsorship (instead of shareholding etc) he has a huge say in the operation of the club if needed (like he’s doing now at Rangers) but avoids the legal FA definition of ‘having an interest’ in more than one club.
    That’s my guess.

  • GToon

    Do you think we could starve him out, you know like some kind of giant tape worm?

  • Sickandtiredstill

    GToon Nah, sadly. No Brainer and Co are already way up his [email protected] and its having no effect ;-)