I am taking a sabbatical from Newcastle United.

If I could take a sabbatical from Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley, Wonga, and the perpetual debt, and aspiring to finish tenth, and the best club we can be, pound for pound, and all the rest of the hokum, but still remain entangled with a whole beloved idea that is the only part of my life that I can trace back fifty years and more, then of course I would. But I can’t.

The reason is that I am no longer prepared to take Newcastle United on the terms insisted upon by Mike Ashley. In other words, the only deal he has ever offered any of us is our unconditional support in return for our club wiping its own nose, and ticking over.

(To feature like Wiz, send in your articles for our website to [email protected])

I will not detain you with a familiar litany of dreadfulnesses we are continuing to live through. You are highly versed in them all.

I would simply draw your attention to what I am realising the single most objectionable feature of Mike Ashley’s tenure.

It is the way he leeches off everyone else. It is his modus operandi. And he leeches off us, the fans, his customers, more than anyone else.

When he invests in a business, he lends it money which gives him a tax break. And the business is lumbered with the loan for as long as he remains interested, so that everyone else’s interests are subordinate to his.

He’s not just done it at Newcastle, of course. He’s done it at Rangers, where it is a proxy shareholding – the SFA has not allowed him to take a larger shareholding, so he is achieving the same ends by means of a loan.

He advances the loan to keep the club going, and extracts merchandising, retailing, branding, and director-nominating rights in return. The deal never gives more than it takes. It is the behaviour of a leech. Incidentally, it was a long time before Victorian doctors realised the leech was the only living thing getting anything out of leeching.

Gradually the Rangers fans will realise that the money he’s lent is the thin end of a not terribly impressive wedge. In due course they will see the focus of the club shift from winning trophies to improved balance sheets. Rangers will become more remote, and Sports Direct will become more immediate. It will become more difficult to engage with the team other than through merchandising opportunities. Players will become transient, and will move up and down the M6 as the executives think fit. Like mannequins, now I think of it.

But the biggest leeching, the biggest exploitation of fans whose only interest, a winning side, is routinely ignored, is of our affection.

Like a conman who has wormed his way into the affections of a vulnerable and well provided-for widow, he exploits our human weakness with the remorselessness of a psychopath.

He eyes the bottom line with a gimlet eye, but only to see if the tipping point of his awfulness has been reached. He thinks he has a good way to go yet.

But disappointing transfer window after disastrous transfer window, get-used-to-it-no-managerial- appointment-at-all after unambitious and poorly supported (yet eight-year-contracted) managerial appointment, we’re not one of the big clubs but we shall try to be the best we can be on the cheap, tenth position being something we should be pleased with because we’re not going to win a cup … all this has been for a long time, for seven years actually, something I was swallowing.

I’m amazed, but I was swallowing it all, up to the other day.

And then I just realised. He’s pushing me out, just to see if I will push back. Just to see if I would go on swallowing it, just to see if, alternatively, I would push back.

But no, actually, Mike, I’m not pushing back any more. And I’m not swallowing it any more either. Pushing back and swallowing it all are just two sides of the same coin.

I’m stepping back, and stepping out. I can hardly believe it, but I’m going. I’m taking a sabbatical.

I don’t know if my heartfelt affection for Newcastle United will in the medium term be rekindled. The thing is, at the moment, I don’t really care. I don’t watch Newcastle at home, so the bottom line will not be affected. In the future I won’t even be watching them on the telly.

I’ve been restructured out of Newcastle United. They have downsized me out. Their efficiency savings have nudged me away. I’ve been subject to a review, and reapplied for my own zero hours contract on a minimum f***ing wage for the very last f***ing time.

They can f*** off. Forever.



  • supermacsnewname

    1% own 99% – you would think it couldn’t get worse, but it can
    – you would think they couldn’t get greedier, but they can
    – these parisites will take our hope, pride and souls if it will get them a few more pieces of silver to gloat over

  • tynetalk21

    I am taking a sabbatical from Newcastle United.I
    am no longer prepared to take Newcastle United on the terms insisted
    upon by Mike Ashley
    I
    haven’t been to St James’ Park since 2008, when it became apparent to
    me what Ashley is trying to do
    Which is it Wiz – you are taking a sabbatical – or you haven’t been for 8years – make your mind up – and while you are on try to stop using the “f” word on a site viwed by children

  • Geordiexile

    Providing a loan like Ashley does, will not give you a tax break…..unless it is written off, it then becomes a cost. What it does provide is a potential investment that can be used to give power or other benefits in the way it has at Rangers. I can’t stand the way Ashley is running the club but this sounds like sour grapes being aired in public

  • tonyshaw

    If you think Ashley is running the club, for the club, for the fans, for the customers etc.. then keep going.

    If you think he’s running the club for his own benefit and to benefit Sports Direct, then stop going.

    I stopped going in 2010 and wont go back until he has gone, and I know loads of others in the same boat.

    Make your decision.

  • Toon69

    I haven’t been to a home match in the last 12 months, mainly due to the pathetic crap football we’ve been playing but also down to the management not investing or even trying to show some ambition. So from this you can tell I’m not exactly an Ashley/Pardew fan but no matter what the guys throws at us, I still wonder what would have happened to us if he hadn’t come along when he did, would FFS have turned us into another Leeds, Pompey type of club, spent all that money & got us so far into debt, we’d be floundering in the lower league, epsecially with no mega rich arab/Russian wanting to buy a NE club, just the london clubs… would we have gone into administration due to debt outweighing our incomes, with SJH & FFS doing a runner with what they could out of the club before we drifted into non-exisitance… we’ll never know, as we’re now run by someone who doesn’t care about the club per say, he just wants to use us to advertise his beloved SD empire, it’s not going to change anytime soon, so what is the next step… Love him or loathe him!!!!

  • pissed off mag

    brilliant feature im in the same boat, mugpies will always go to kiss ashleys arse in there wonga shirts as long as these idiots keep going then nothing will change

  • newcastle7

    Was at Sunderland last night it  was brilliant as was the night in Middlesbroughand the afternoon at Millwall.You see Iam a true fan your time is up and enjoy your retirement and I wish you good luck but please do not ever come back.(Simon)

  • killyted

    I stoped going 3 years ago.how can a football club be run by non football people
                                      1.ASHLEY    owner
                                       2 CHARNLEY  office boy
                                       3 Carr good scout
                                        4 Mrs BUNG       tea lady

  • heza09

    Most people who I know who go to the games feel exactly this way, me being one of them. That doesn’t make me a mugpie or condoning the way the club is being ran.

    I cannot be bothered to reply to all of the comments below, but “stop swearing” and that sort of nonsense. Howay man? It’s football, swearing has and always will be involved to some degree. Whilst I could understand if he was F’ing and C’ing every sentence he is purely showing some passion in what he writes.

    This brings me to my next point, where is the passion? St James’ used to be a cauldron of noise and atmosphere and now it’s full of happy-clappers on a silent day-trip to the un-entertaining theatre of no-dreams. Anyone who makes anti-Ashley soundbites is shouted down and everyone goes back to the pub, or stops going and complains about how bad it is.

    Have we actually made our collective feelings known yet? Have we actually shown them our disgust?
    It’s time for those in the ground to start talking the talk because those who also feel the same way and cannot, have walked the walk. We are a sporting and community institution. Not a advertising hoard for Sports Direct.
    [email protected]’Park
    oh aye…

    dot com.

  • Chemical Dave

    newcastle7 
    Simon !! The ultimate fan, nice to see you back on here. Amazing you being the very pinnacle of uber fans that you should advocate extending the East stand isn’t it ? Clueless fraud.

  • Chemical Dave

    tynetalk21 
    it’s be hoped these children never get in the vicinity of our ‘coach’ if you’re/they’re that sensitive eh ?

  • amacdee

    For those who still go, I’m reminded of SBR’s now famous “What is a club in any case”quote

    “It’s
    the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your
    city” 
    Pride and Passion ? I dont think so !

  • heza09

    amacdee It’s silent nowadays. I’d rather have vitriol against the board than that.

  • bill49

    can you take lee ryder and his matrs with you

  • amacdee

    heza09 @I
    could be wrong but IMHO the fans staying away are being replaced by
    “take it or leave it” customers. People who go because its the thing to
    do but dont know how to “support”.  Hence very few songs and certainly
    no new or relevant songs. Hence the library

  • heza09

    amacdee heza09 I’d kind of disagree on the songs front. There have been a few decent ones in recent years it just seems people are unwilling to join in. “This club…”, “Follow, follow…”, etc just to name a couple.

    You’re right though, a lot of people are “take it or leave it customers”. I know that brings about a whole ‘superfan’ debate but it’s what is killing football in the UK.

    Sky and the likes making it all about the armchair fan and businessmen like Ashley reaping the benefits whilst local communities become detached from the thing that is supposed to represent them and their region. Modern football is dying in this country. The German model needs followed.

  • amacdee

    heza09
    Maybe people
    are unwilling to join in. “This club…”, “Follow, follow…”, etc cos they dont know the freakin words ;-)
    Never mind heza get yourself off to the Park Grill for your matchday experience :-) 
    http://www.nufc.co.uk/articles/20150205/great-park-grill-packages-for-february_2281670_4464630

  • MilitantGeordie

    ahh what a club this could be with some decent ( not silly money) investment. Why couldn’t we have brought in a centerback this January with the money from Pardew and Mbiwa? A sensible football minded owner would have seen the danger of our lack of quality and moved quickly to support the ‘ head coach’. I think it’s going to be very interesting in the summer transfer window. My gut feeling is we will be losing two or three first teamers ( Sissoko for sure, Tiote and Krul maybe) and then our replacements will be the two lads from Nottingham forest and that will be IT. Another year will pass without a centerback coming in, Carver will get the job fulltime for keeping us up ( if we manage that) and we’ll have another dodge the relegation season after the TV cash disappears along with the sissoko money. So exciting these days isn’t it? Oh well.. i’ve been out since 2011 so another year of no cash for Ash will be easy. It gets easier every year!

  • TonyMarkElsender

    Sacked it in 07

  • newcastle7

    It was Freddie who said there was even scope for expanding the East Stand.Hope you wwere there last night along with all the other true fans.(Simon)

  • 2someitsonlyagame

    newcastle7  Just because you can afford to attend all these matches that you keep boasting about, does not mean you are more loyal or something special, it just means you are more fortunate.

  • daverussell097

    MilitantGeordie
    ahh what a club this could be with some decent ( not silly money) investment – 

    I’m 63 now and can remember when we used to say the same about the club when McKeag and Westwood (Lord if you like) were in charge. 
    We eventually got Sir John Hall and it was great, then along came the scrap metal man and it started to get worse, or so we thought. Nothing prepared us for Mr. Ashley. 
    He is now treating football players like 5 packs of Lonsdale boxers he sells in his ubiquitous Chinese emporiums! Only difference is he doesn’t insist that we must wear them when they are clean, as long as we have paid for them he could not care less.

    It must get better, but when?

  • MilitantGeordie

    daverussell097 I’m not even sure if it ever will get better. I think the club has been gutted by the selfish one and damaged to the core. Our image on the football stage has been destroyed. We are seen as the cheap and tacky little club these days, other fans laugh at us now yet we used to be well respected by other clubs for our ambition and passion. I can see nothing but a bleak future for the club trudging along year after year just surviving the drop while the owner increases his personal wealth to even more obsene levels. I don’t want some Sheik coming along and doing a ‘ man city’ to us but i would like an owner who at least attempts to build a quality squad capable of winning a cup and competing with the top 6. Why can he not just add one or two quality players every year and try and do something with the club? It’s pocket change to him but he just won’t give it a go! sad times!

  • SusanCommon

    we’ll done Wiz, hope you not packing in the contributions tho. as respect and lime your comments. i admire you be taking such a long stand  since 2008 against this tyrant. i am in the  same boat

  • The General Lee

    I’m new on here but wanted to say great article. ASHLEY is like bloody Dracula, sucking the life blood out of this club. We used to be known as the loudest most passionate fans with a team that fought. Now…… We are MA’s toy, a club he gets off on when he abuses us. I’ve never known a more vile and self centred human being. MA is a parasite and a very dangerous man

  • tino o

    Good article but it is a shame people are being forced into walking away by one man. Being a supporter for over forty years I’m gutted in the situation this club is in . I know how addictive supporting the toon is but there comes a breaking point when you think is it really worth the hassle. The enjoyment for me and I imagine thousands of others has gone along with any hope of the future. Ive limited myself to games over the last few years and now it doesn’t cross my mind to go to a game with the thought of every penny I spend contributes to his hold on the club. I spend my life dreaming of the day he is gone rather than dreaming of actually winning something.

  • RobBrown

    So you don’t think that the companies who he loans the money too have any say in the terms and conditions?

    What, they don’t actually want the money?

    So he just imposes loans on them, under his terms so he can take advantage and get a “tax break”.

    Oh yes – I can see how a man who is worth 4.4 billion amasses his wealth by lending the odd million here and there BECAUSE IT SAVES ON TAX!.

    Seriously?

  • Jarra MIck

    Good read Wiz said what a lot of us are feeling. Whilst agreeing with you I’ve stopped short of not watching them on the box. We packed in this season but we still go through the match day ritual of meeting in the town for a few bevvies, watch the match and then a few more bevvies. At least the fat Cnut can’t stop us doing that.

  • Hez

    Yep, good article, not been for three years now, don’t really miss the home games too much but away games used to be a treat of a day out! realised why should I spend a fortune when the club isn’t interested, watch every game online now for free and if I need an away day my mates are Bolton fans, but it just isn’t the same!! fair play if you still go, I wont knock you and its a free world but he’s not having my wages.

  • No Brainer

    TO be really honest here you seem a bit disingenuous Wiz and to be honest little like a spoiled child.
    But the biggest leeching, the biggest exploitation of fans whose only interest, a winning side, is routinely ignored, is of our affection. 

    NO clubs fans have a right to be “a WINNING SIDE” not LFC not MUFC not MCFC not CFC or AFC or AVFC or NFFC or LEEDS or Sunderland none of them,.

    So as many of the fans who go to watch newcastle do they do it to watch football as fans.

    What you are saying is that you want a super rich person to come along buy newcastle and spend spend spend. Despite Newcastle being the perfect example of that not working.  Kevin Keegan, had spent more money than any manager ever had and still did not win a thing then walked away when sadly exposed.
    We are currently bombared with whinges about cups on here anyone like to lay out KK’s cup record whilst manager of NUFC?

    The problem you have got is that you just don’t realise that when the club brought in the likes of cabaye debuchy etc etc they were of a certain level of investment cheap unproven and risky when we bought in the summer we where able to do so both at that level Perez darlow lascelles as well as proven players well sort after and with experience, Du Jong and Cabella..
    Doing this whilst maintaining a steady eye on the clubs finances.

    I just love it I mean really love it that despite the huge insurmountable amount of passion and energy that the likes of wiz Leazes ender demented man Jackie Jim et al spew on these pages about the toon but do nothing about it.

    Nothing your full of it  I often wonder if the hate and spite is self loathing and a hanging unfulfillment

  • No Brainer

    tino o please tell me about the SITUATION THE CLUB IS IN.
    Is it the same situation that sold peter beardsly
    or Paul Gascoigne
    Does it have good value ticket prices compared to the other clubs in the league.
    Does it regularly get to  qtr cup finals only hampered in each due to player errors or injuries.Is it the same club that couldn’t even having heating installed at the benwell training facilities
    by hold on the club do you mean the person who owns it owns it.
    Didn’t westwood and a few pals own it then mcKeag and a few pals own it didn’t hall and the sgrap bloke own it (didn’t they take both dividends and wages from it)

    WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU ON ABOUT MAN
    HE upset Kev boo hoo
    HE tried to raise money through selling the name to the stadium BOO HOO
    When Carroll demanded to he sold him for an exxcessive amount BOO HOO (what a let off)

    Really what is it that you are upset about

    Cabaye leaving – see Ronaldo at man u
    Carroll leaving – see van persie at arsenal
    Debuchy Leaving – see suarez at Liverpool

    Its nowt to do with the clubs its the agents geddit if you don’t like modern football just watch local stuff or rugby its noit the agenda of newcastle its uefa and the PL

  • No Brainer

    MilitantGeordie I agree imagine we could have spent £40m on two proven superstar players who would thrust us into the top four. 
    Oh hold on what would you suggest the club do after they are hampered by a similar injury lay off that du Jong has had. and we have nowt left in the bank

    Answers on a post card why have everton been languishing this season, and how many games has lukaku played the full 90 mins

  • No Brainer

    bill49 at least his shoes are clean

  • No Brainer

    amacdee Yes its fans those are the folks that turned there back on him i ‘m proud to say that i was one of around 6,000 left in the ground when the team did a lap of honour after finishing fifth WHERE fifth
    Toon fans pound for pound the bet  I doubt it

  • No Brainer

    heza09 amacdee has been since the all seater became law its not just recent don’t make it out as new. The only decent game was the barca win

  • No Brainer

    heza09 amacdee follow follow (a rangers song sadly copied like most of our stuff)

  • No Brainer

    amacdee heza09 looks sh**e

  • No Brainer

    tonyshaw One question Tony as the club is nigh on sold out still how do you intend on going back when he is gone. 
    There is no room for you, you are not needed.

  • CMRowley

    No Brainer You miss the point entirely, Wiz, like many others, has watched the team through far worse times, worse team, worse position, worse board, worse managers, worse worse worse.
    Worse in lot’s of aspects but one, the club was run as a football club, not as a branch of a sporting outlet.  Not with the sole intention of treading water to improve a bank balance for someone else.

    Regardless of how good the bank balance is, this will not benefit NUFC, regardless of which players come in, ultimately, it will not benefit NUFC.  You seem to suggest that a large number of fans go to the match in the same way they go to the cinema.  Simply for 90 minutes distraction, a hobby of sorts.

    Well for the rest of us, watching NUFC isn’t a hobby.  I’m not asking to be Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Bayern or Barca.  Nobody is demanding super rich spend spend spend policy, Ashley’s initial comments about the club wiping it’s nose make perfect sense.  But we don’t see that do we?  We see no investment in playing staff other than from sales of players, never improving, always maintaining.  No aspirations.  The club is being mined, money which should be invested into NUFC, revenue which should be being paid to NUFC, all being mined and stashed away, never to be seen by NUFC again, all while one man get’s richer and richer.

    When we couldn’t sign a decent player under Gordon McKeag, it was down to money not being available, the men in charge didn’t have the finance or the nouse to generate it.  What we have now is a regime who are happy to harvest the profits and turnover from NUFC in order to make money for themselves and their other interests.  Other regimes may have been crap, but they were not actively harming NUFC and ridiculing the supporters.  Ashley and the set up at NUFC is insidious, my worse fear is we become like you suggest, a Saturday afternoon distraction, something to do for 90 minutes.  That’s when there is no coming back.

  • No Brainer

    CMRowley No Brainer Really, You thinking easily being the better team against Benfica and taylor and santon ballsing that up is the club treading water.
    Its great that you mention sporting goods outlets. Stan Seymour used the club to further his sporting goods empire by only allowing players to do appearences at local sports clubs who bought their kit and equipment from his store.
    You think McKeag had no nouse on making money are you for real he was a multi multi millionaire worth more than hall when the batte was going on just would not risk his own assets for the club.

    You say you are not asking for a Real Madrid or liverpool man u I would suggest that this team which has been badly hampered with injuries this season will finish 7th or 8th and be right on the coat strings or ahead of Liverpool. Why can’t you see that. Is the team really awful?

    As for making money for themselves if you can show that MA has taken any money out of the club save the extra relegation loan I implore you to show the evidence i will be right behind you.

    You are missing the facts

  • CMRowley

    No Brainer tino o See above.

    How is comparing 3 star players leaving three separate clubs the same as all star players leaving the same club?

    And what did those three teams you mention do with the funds generated?  They invested them, and additional funds from TV and other revenues generated.  They replaced them with top, proven players.

    Jumping on your comparison bad wagon..

    Sanchez arriving – see Nobody Replacing Cabaye
    Ozil arriving – see Nobody Replacing Demba Ba
    Lalanna arriving – see Colback on a Free Transfer.

    Now stop mashing your against the keyboard.

  • No Brainer

    CMRowley No Brainer tino o Thanks for the set up
    Song left 2012 – ozil 2013
    Van persie 2012 – sanchez 2014
    Lalanna £25m 15 games – Colback free 22 games
    better player Colback easy 

    Back in your box fella

  • CMRowley

    No Brainer CMRowley tino o Wooosh

  • dude 1

    No Brainer tonyshaw kidda you can always buy match day tickets at the start of any home game week

  • No Brainer

    Not so many that would suffixe all those pronouncing they’ll be going back when he’s gone.

  • tino o

    Ha ha you really need to calm down man! If you’re happy with the job Ashley is doing your in a minority of Newcastle fans or your a mackem. The money received for just being in this division is massive no comparison to the days of Westwood. Most clubs in the prem are reinvesting some of it into the team. We fail to compete with the likes of Swansea West ham Southampton to name a few. We are being left behind and in time it will catch up with us . dark days ahead under your pal Ashley

  • Phildene

    newcastle7: there’s plenty of what yuv called true fans out there who have stopped going and that doesn’take them any less of a true fan. We’ve simply smelt the coffee and woke up to what’s going on with ashley and don’t want any part of it.
    It’s the ‘fans’ like yourself who make it harder for we fans as you’re the very reason ashley is staying long his pockets.
    When you’ve been going as long as my husband , over 62 years, then that’s when you can call yourself a true fan!

  • leazesndr

    No Brainer

    Don’t care if Newcastle don’t win anything but this rabble have publicly stated that they don’t intend to even try and do anything but sustain mid table mediocrity.

    Enjoy waving your iphone and your shoes for the Sky Sports cameras whilst you bend over and take it up the rustybullet hole from someone who is openly taking the piss out of you as you give him your money.

  • Hez

    No Brainer CMRowley being the better team against Benfice you claim, ok then did we build on that or backwards ever since? have we grown as a club (not financially) or gone backwards? have we seen any investment in the team since then? im surprised Ashley still has some of you fooled

  • Hez

    No Brainer CMRowley also he doesn’t need to take money out of the club, he makes it from the publicity his tacky brand makes out of association, SD was almost of unheard before nufc

  • amacdee

    CMRowley No Brainer

  • amacdee

    The General Lee The Godfather of Zero Hour Contracts to boot !

  • newcastle7

    Phildene Being going fifty three year and in the top twenty supporters of our great club travelled to Derby (last season)
    Millwall, Middlesbrough and Sunderland to back the club.If you stop going you are not a supporter you are a fan.

  • heza09

    amacdee heza09 Don’t really see the point you’re trying to make here. Making assumptions on the back of nowt…

  • heza09

    No Brainer heza09 amacdee Think of one better and sing it then…

  • amacdee

    @heza09 
    No point being made, other than the reason why some people dont sing is because they’re newbies and genuinely dont know the words. I know a GP who takes his two boys but isnt a fan, doesnt know the history but wants to engage with his two estranged children. 
    As for the link to NUFC’s Park Grill packages I see it as a different slant on the club trying to attract fans. Not “follow the lads through thick and thin” but “Eat drink and be merry oh and by the way there’s a football match after, if you can be arsed”.

  • amacdee

    No Brainer

    “cheap unproven and risky when we bought in”
    You’re talking about Cabaye who’d won the league and cup double with Lille and was playing in the Champions league having won player of the year award ?
    You’re so full of shlte !

  • No Brainer

    Line our squad up now against those playing then its muxh better now than then

  • No Brainer

    Please point to statement you mention I believe you’re talking out said rustybucket

  • No Brainer

    Nobody in rngland or spsin was looking at him his agents words not mine

  • leazesndr

    No Brainer  If I have some of what you’ve been taking or drinking, will it make me talk shite about Keegan as well?
    LOL!

  • leazesndr

    No Brainer wondsrsul cormest

  • No Brainer

    Shanks e shott

  • tonyshaw

    So i take it you think he’s running the club to benefit the fans and not his pocket?
    The club is sold out? Rubbish, the number of emails i get at work offering me cheap tickets is unreal, the club appears to be sold out as he’s desperate to put bums on seats, without these heavily discounted tickets there would be less than 40k there.
    I’ve been going for more than 30 years and would love to go for the next 30 years, but not while this greedy pisstaking owner is there, wake up and realise whats happening.