I have noticed that when Newcastle fans criticise or talk honestly about Mike Ashley and our football club, a common response from some is, ‘You should be grateful you’re not down the bottom in a relegation fight!’

Well this might be a controversial comment for a football fan to make, but I actually don’t fear relegation anymore.  It genuinely doesn’t scare me the way it should, because at least in a relegation fight we’d have something to care about.

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I think it’s unlikely that we will get relegated, but if we did ever find ourselves in that position then at least we’d have some excitement back again, because getting relegated is the only situation where Ashley would ever show real ambition.  He’d want his TV money back and he’d want his free advertising back, so he’d actually have to break with character and try for once.

So a season (or seasons) in the Championship would be like supporting a real football club again, rather than supporting a private money making machine.  And that’s what I want.  I want to support a football club again.  I’m sick of supporting a private money making machine.  And if supporting a football club again means the risk of relegation well then so be it, but I want the passion back.  I want to care again.  I want a real football club, where we aim for footballing success.  Not a plc where we aim to be the balance sheet champions.

At the moment we’re just existing.  If we threaten to qualify for Europe, Ashley will sell our best players.  If we get drawn into a relegation fight, Ashley will buy a few players in the January transfer window to help protect his TV money and free advertising.  Where’s the passion in that?  Where’s the passion in existing?

When we beat Villa the other day I was pleased when the final whistle went, but then a few minutes later I realised…What does it matter?  We’re battling for 10th position and that’s all we’ll ever have to look forward to until Ashley leaves the club.  We’re never going to threaten the top places, and we’re unlikely to get relegated.  We’re just existing.

So although a few fans of other clubs may have been brainwashed by media pundits into thinking that existing is better than the threat of relegation, and that financial stability is the new black, I personally don’t share that point of view.  I’ve experienced existing and I’ve experienced relegation battles, and even the days under Ossie Ardiles were more enjoyable than things are now.  At least back then we had something to care about.  A win or a defeat mattered.

In fairness, not all fans of other clubs have been taken in by the ‘financial stability’ argument, so in the interests of balance I should also acknowledge fans of other clubs who empathise and see Mike Ashley for the leech that he is.

I’ve chatted with fans in real life (rather than on forums) who totally agree that people like Mike Ashley, the Glazers, etc, are leeching money out of football, which if you look at the bigger picture is bad for the game as a whole.

One final thought which sums up my current mood, is an example from 2012/13 when Wigan became the first team to win the FA Cup and get relegated in the same season.  A Wigan fan who I know, proudly declared that if you offered him a trade, he wouldn’t swap the cup win for Premiership survival.  Relegation can always potentially be reversed with a subsequent promotion, but no one can ever take away a cup win.  To me, he understands what being a football fan is all about.

Anyway, despite the current depressingly unambitious situation at our club/private money making machine, I want to finish on a positive note, and say that the one hope to cling to is that Mike Ashley hopefully won’t be around forever.  Maybe one day we’ll have a football club again, and not a private money making machine, and we’ll get to once again experience ambition and excitement and all of those other things that used to make being a football supporter so brilliant.

And if the price to pay for supporting a football club rather than a plc is the threat of relegation, well then I still wouldn’t change my opinion.  In fact if someone offered me that trade I’d bite their hand off.

Give me a football club over a private money making machine any day of the week.

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  • supermacsnewname

    na, give me a private money making machine any day
    then when I get bored of wine women & song (then more wine & lots more women) I might buy a football club and show keegan where he went wrong

  • DavidDrape

    good article n good viewpoints. we are a Zombie club and i am mega pleased i don’t have to sit thru away fans for 90 mms totally out singing us along with often the team taking a hammering at the same time. i can picture it 2moz night 3000 man u fans taking the mince out of us and no brilliant singing section to fight back with or encourage the team. enjoy

  • DownUnderMag

    DavidDrape summed it up perfectly, Zombie club…that is exactly how it feels.  How many of us are actually passionate about watching the matches, or rather how many of us continue to go to the game or hole in to a pub or stay up late in other parts of the world to watch them just because it’s ingrained in to us to do it…it’s what we’ve always done, so we carry on doing it, hoping beyond hope that there will be some light at the end of the rainbow.  The crowd at the match is the quietest it’s been for a long time, the talk on these type of boards and in pubs is not about the cup, or europe, or even the good old days really, it’s all about Ashley, how bad things are, how we never try and are just a selling club with zero ambition. Even getting beaten off Man Utd in the cup semi-final in Wales, you cold hold your head up because we still outsung the Manc, you just can’t see the same happening tomorrow night, even while at home.  I hope I am wrong, the team puts in a performance to remember and the crowd is lifted…but I really can’t see it.

  • Demented_Man

    Even in the darkest days of McKeag, Westwood et al standing in a crumbling ground with freezing rain lashing your face there was still more interest in the football at SJP than there is now.  At least you hoped for better.  Now it seems that’s all gone.
    I seriously wonder how people can be bothered to make the effort to go these days.  For many, no doubt, it’s a long-term habit.  For others it’s fashionable.  But why on earth would new fans take an interest in this mind-numbing dross, served up ultimately by someone who doesn’t give a toss about football, only his ‘revenue streams’?

  • Pop n Wyn

    Demented_ man i know were you are coming from, thing is the expectations are now always here after the Keegan/Sir Bobby era, we are grabbing on to any last hope that we can return there, 52 thousand again at SJP is mindblowing and dont ask me how it happens but it does, of course EMMETT is right we are a money making machine for MA, i suppose you put your money down and take it from there and MA is just about the best in the business, so why is virtually every Toon fan dejected, loss of all passion and with the soul that has been ripped out of our club, Mr Ashley has an incredible knack of making money, but to us as supporters we are getting no enjoyment out of this football club anymore, and he is not going to leave when guaranteed upwards of 60/70/80/90/100 million quid every season free gratis, not this fella.

  • These replies are spot on. We don’t look forward to the matches
    anymore with excitement and anticipation. Supporting Newcastle now is just a habit.

  • wor monga

    Eh…are you saying that a real Wigan fan was saying he wouldn’t
    change winning the FA Cup…for the position that club is in now…on a fast track
    down from the Championship to League 1 and beyond…I’m very happy for him then,
    and he can relive all the passion by watching that final DVD, when they
    entertain the likes of Burton and Wycombe next season…

    Good to see the back of Whelan also…after the rubbish he came
    out with when his player cynically took out Haidara…

    No…for me the PL is the place that everybody in or around
    the game (i.e supporting a club) wants to be at…and their club finishing in the top
    ten is a very creditable effort for any team involved there…anybody who says
    otherwise is just basically lying or full of sh*t.

  • Brownale69

    sell out crowds at home/away games watching tripe ………no wonder the fatman is laughing on his yacht.

  • newcastle7

    The truth is since Ashley took over we have generally lost money not made money although is expected to change when last years results were announced.He has had to put in £129m of his own money to keep the club afloat and on top of this we still had a £4m overdraft so its not as if he taking millions out of our club it’s quite the reverse he is putting millions in.

  • newcastle7

    Demented_Man Is that why only six and seven thousand only turned up the missing forty four thousand must have found something even more interesting to do during those dark days.

  • Pop n Wyn

    newcstle7,  MA put that initial loan in to the club/himself for the benefit of Himself and not us fans to save himself millions in interest because he was in a position to do it, we know he did not do his due dilligence, his fault, but we are a money making machine for the fella, and yes you have to make it in to that but MA cannot fail especially with the sky monies coming in left right and centre, but we are a football club that has got the life sucked out of it because of the way he does his business, honestly the free advertising for all his purchases splattered around the ground and billboards around the pitch is in my view massivley out of order, he is taking millions of pounds in advertising fees for free, and god knows SD could easily afford to pay but he sees it as a nice perk for his loyal shareholders in his beloved Sdirect, and as he said at their AGM if any situation suits Sports Direct then thats all that matters, not mentioning USC firetrap etc which splash all around the billboards, added to the ground renaming, how the hell did he get away with that? but he did, he has the money and he has the keys to SJP, he can do anything he want including poxy Wonga.

    He is denying NUFC monies, to give his pals at Sports Direct and himself a pat on the back, vomit inducing.

  • SGM

    I suppose you would prefer Tann?

  • Pop n Wyn

    SGM, i would not like Tann either, i have stuck up for MA many times over his 8 year tenure, i have virtually lost friendships through it, but we always seem to be chasing lost ground, buying at the wrong times cos we have got ourselves in a hole, he should have bought in the window just gone and again he is winging it, to many of our fans are continually getting kicked in the stones with the consequences of MA`s actions, he said at the beginning he would plow profits made back in to the club, profits are being made yet we get these daft statements like we are gearing up to by a defender to replace the milk float that is Mike Williamson, it all sucks, MA has cheapened NUFC just like he does with everything he buys, but with us he has taken our lifeforce with him.

  • paul janes

    Ridiculous comment,of course Ashley is preferable to Tann, but there are owners out there who actually have an interest in their teams trying to have a little success.

  • GToon

    newcastle7 he is putting money in? are you for real? keep the club afloat? it was never going to sink. he’s grabbed and taken from the moment he arrived. and be honest with yourself – you have no idea what he is making from NUFC, what he is saving in advertising but just keep this fact in your head —> when he arrived he was worth just over 1 billion. he is now worth 4 billion. and what has happened to nufc since his arrival?

  • GToon

    wor monga i really enjoyed our season in the championship. i went to loads of away games and a few at home. it felt like real football and made a nice change from the epl.

  • GToon

    newcastle7 Demented_Man well you are sort of proving the point there arent you. those low crowds reflected the frustration with our relegation (78/9). those were the days when the crowds showed their frustration by not going. these days they don’t and turn up whatever the state of things at sip.

  • PhilYare

    and people forget…. it was mike ashley who got us relegated in 2009, it was his shambolic decisions to sell key players, appoint clueless people to undermine keegan etc

    the only example of newcastle getting relegated in recent history was completely his fault, and people have said we are better financially…. our relegation nearly bankrupted us –  not us being competitive

  • Brown Bottle

    N.U.F.C. is but a hollow shell of a club. Until the sociopath glutton keeping it on life support either expires or gets bored it will remain so. 
    Mind you, 50,000+ seem to quite enjoy visiting it on it’s ventilator and so as long as they keep bringing flowers and chocolate for the glutton to gorge himself on, he’ll never switch the ventilator off.

  • Brown Bottle

    GToon newcastle7 When he arrived he’d just made 1.8 billion from floating Steptoe’s and over 60% of the remaining share capital. He kept the horse a’nall.

  • SGM So is your argument that Ashley is only the 91st worst owner in the league, rather than the 92nd worst?
    Sorry, but I don’t see that’s anything to be pleased about.
    “Woo-hoo!  Our owner is only the 91st worst owner in football!  Brilliant!  I’m so happy!”

  • SGM Football fans of all clubs should stick together over matters as serious as this.  It annoys me when people use the, “Some other fans have got it even worse than you.”
    Injustce is injustice.  The argument that one set of fans have been screwed over slightly more than another set of fans shouldn’t be used as an argument to defend the indefensible.
    Yes, muppets like Tann who are so clueless that they change the colour of the strip shouldn’t be allowed in football.  The FA need to tighten up their ‘fit and proper’ test and bring in strict rules on what an owner can and can’t do.
    From a legal point of view obviously an owner can do whatever he wants, but the FA are under no obligation to then allow that team to play in any of their competitions.  So if the FA said, “Sorry, if you change the colour of the strip without the fans approval then you lose your entry in our competitions, and we’ll instead keep a spot open for the fans to start a new club with the same name,” then in that situation muppets like Tann would have no option but to comply.
    The FA should also bring in rules which state that advertising has to be at the going rate, not free.  UEFA investigated Man City when they suspected they were getting more than the market rate, so surely giving away free advertising is even worse than sneakily bringing extra cash into the game?

  • The MK Dons franchise is another example where the FA should have stepped in and blocked what happened.
    Football fans need to see the bigger picture and stick together over things like this.
    If Wimbledon fans or Cardiff fans organised a boycott of Rokke/Gjelsten/Koppel’s companies, or Tann’s companies, then I would hapily and enthusiastically support those boycotts.
    Football fans are massive in number and extremely passionate, so we have the potential to be far more powerful than any one individiual.  It’s just that things like petty rivalries between clubs, or a lack of organisation mean that we rarely use our power, and so muppets and leeches get to do what they want without fear of the consequences.  We potentially have the power to financially hurt or even financially destroy people who hurt us, and I wish we would.  I wish fans of all clubs would see the bigger picture and stick together.

  • Brown Bottle Well said!  That’s a brilliant metaphor.  It sums up the current situation perfectly.