It’s getting a bit tedious for me now.

Every day there is another article from someone about it.

Fair enough, some of them are well written and there’s little you can argue with in their reasoning, but if I have to read about one more fan whose love affair with Newcastle United is coming to an end…I might have to switch my reading material to Mills and Boon for some less emotionally overwrought stuff.

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

The Taylor report, Sky TV, Nick Hornby and Fantasy Football have a lot to answer for in the sanitization of the game, the romanticism of it alongside the expanding popularity, but this self-indulgent nonsense about fans breaking up with their club is becoming too much for me.

Can you imagine your granddad (or great granddad – if you’re a nipper) offering a 1000 word lament over such a decision?

For them, football was more likely something to do in the gap between pubs closing at 2.40pm and opening again at 6.30pm as they used to in the afternoons.

Wind, rain or shine, crap football or trophy winning, useless manager or master tactician, spendthrift owner or miserly.  Going to the football was more often than not something better than going home to the wife.  There’s more fun to be had being surrounded by like-minded friends and strangers, with a similar sense of humour who can laugh and bellyache and cheer and jeer together, irrespective of results.

We all know the logical reasons to stop going inside out of course, since the pubs went 24 hour and every game is available streamed live, there’s no logical reason to be at any game instead of being on the drink.

If you’ve made the logical decision, champion, but what now?  Your decision isn’t an act of martyrdom that will inspire me to follow.  People like me will be convinced to stop going either when the cost/reward balance tips backwards too much personally, or when we see a cohesive protest movement to follow, rather than individuals – more on that later.

Despite my loathing of Mike Ashley, I still go to the football because I still like going to the football. I enjoy the live experience in the Strawberry corner where we sing songs and take the pi** out of owner, manager and incapable players (I do the last of those FAR more than I “support the team not the regime”).

newcastle fans

I equally enjoy sitting in the family enclosure with my 7 year old nephew, embarrassing my knowledge by telling me the name of all the opposition players I wouldn’t know from Adam. I enjoy those moments that are becoming fewer and farther between that make the spine tingle, like the return of Jonas or being the first club to beat the league leaders as it approaches Christmas.

Now, clearly I’m a mug.  No need to add to the comments on that score.  I’m playing right into Ashley’s hands and we’ll never be rid of him as long as people like me legitimize his ownership.  But just as clearly, even if I stop going, as thousands have already, nothing will change either, will it?

In November 2010 St James Park had over 10,000 empty seats for a premier league game (we lost 2-1 to Blackburn Rovers with a crowd of 41,053). This wasn’t publicized as a unified show of opposition to the owner, it was just that 10,000 fans couldn’t be bothered with it anymore. Apathy, not anger.  It hasn’t been maintained either, there has only been one crowd below 49,000 at St James Park in 2014/2015.

Which brings me back to that cohesive movement.

I’m not criticizing fans that have stopped going, there are far better fans than I who have followed the club home and away for decades that are walking away in frustration.  Nor am I claiming superfandom, I’ve not done more than a couple of away games in years. But I would say that walking away on principle will not ferment change, and you’re kidding yourself if you think it will, even if you write a strong article that gets thousands of retweets and likes.

There is an ideological separation between fans at the moment who criticize one another for going, or not going, which serves no productive purpose.

Whether we go to games or not, we need to ask what are we doing to pressure the owner?  Protests inside the stadium and protests outside of the stadium can have an impact, but at the moment we see neither.  Apathy in the stands and apathy in the pubs.

I would be 100% committed to any organised boycott where somebody else put in the legwork for me.  It would need to gain traction with a majority, or even a significant minority.  It would need someone willing to take the flak they’ll inevitably get when attempting to harness disparate fan groups.  Someone connected enough to get the press, fanzines, fan forums and twitterati all on board.  I thought the 60 minute walkout I took part in was a great success for a first attempt.  It’s a shame the naysayers seem to have put off those that put the effort into pushing that.

Personally, I’m not so emotionally invested in the club being successful that I would sacrifice the time with my family to be involved in organising such an endeavor.  I’m much happier taking in each game as it comes and complaining about things while hoping the inevitable change comes sooner rather than later.

Owners are despised across football, whether for spending so much of their own money that the club get into the Champions league and raise ticket prices for the visit of Barcelona (seriously), for borrowing too much money on behalf of the club and profiteering from the success it brings, or for not spending anything in the first place.  I hope to be going to games and moaning about the owner, whoever it may be, for many years to come.

Thanks to Chris Holt for another excellent piece and you can visit his blog HERE, plus you can follow him on Twitter @MikeAshleyLies



  • LeazesEnder

    I always presumed these Mills and Boon articles were written for ‘the Ladies’ or ex-pats reminiscing over salad days fare…

    …and Mongos!

  • Antwil82

    MikeAshleyLies

  • andy_emmers

    MikeAshleyLies Excellent article – see it all over the fan pages, all want action but end up falling out over preaching their point of view

  • NUFCTheMag

    andy_emmers MikeAshleyLies No easy solution. Beyond that, no reason why #nufc fans should call each other for still going OR staying away.

  • IL_Official

    NUFCTheMag andy_emmers MikeAshleyLies Rangers supporters were the same; Fans stayed, most stayed away. But we got Ashley’s control out.

  • andy_emmers

    NUFCTheMag MikeAshleyLies Personally see mass in ground (televised) demo targeting SD & affiliates as most impact on Ashley

  • Rangers1ST

    MikeAshleyLies Boycott wouldn’t work anyway with the TV £ you get. Only way to be rid of him is a collective vilification of SD by fans.

  • andy_emmers

    IL_Official NUFCTheMag MikeAshleyLies can’t get head around Rangers situation but thought it was shareholders who got him out?

  • Brian Standen

    Top artucle, puts my writing to shame. Excellent points

  • IL_Official

    andy_emmers NUFCTheMag MikeAshleyLies Over 16,000 Rangers supporters are shareholders.
    Customers not turning up swayed the rest.

  • andy_emmers

    IL_Official NUFCTheMag MikeAshleyLies very different situation down here then, loss of fans is only a drop in money for Ashley.

  • mentalman

    Finally a decent article.
    I would disagree with you on the success of the 60minute walkout simply because there was a 69th minute walkout to. Hats off to the guys who arranged the walkout but then a seperate group came along and decided to do their own walkout 9mins later which turned both into a joke. I can remember watching it on TV and on 60mins the commentators said is this the arranged walkout or is it just a load of geordies going for a pie.
    Why couldn’t eveyone just agree to leave at one point, it would have made a much bigger statement.

  • thelionbrand

    andy_emmers IL_Official NUFCTheMag MikeAshleyLies fans need to unite and try disrupt his prized asset SD.

  • andy_emmers

    thelionbrand IL_Official NUFCTheMag MikeAshleyLies definitely, we’re his advertising space

  • SGM

    Your protests would make a huge impact on the club, but for one thing, Gate receipts are a fraction of a clubs income, so a club doesn’t need to keep them happy, they are now no longer courted, in fact they are becoming a problem, all clubs in the Prem. now discourage individuals in favour of corporate.

  • thelionbrand

    andy_emmers IL_Official NUFCTheMag MikeAshleyLies it only takes 10 people or less to disrupt a SD shop U0001f44d

  • Jamie_NUFC

    MikeAshleyLies NUFCTheMag fair enough each to their own.

  • v0ices

    SGM a rather large fraction of a clubs income don’t make it sound like pennies when its tens of millions, not to mention all the associated income from merchandise etc. The mans greedy cut his profits and he will sell up so he can take his money elsewhere for a better return. That’s not taking into account any penalties sky or BT may have written into contracts regarding empty grounds. Staying away may not work but going will just continue to feed the fat mans wallet and justify his tenure as custodian of our club.

  • SGM

    v0ices SGM Merchandise has been sold off, internal catering has been sold off, even the match-day programmes.Individuals need marshalling and crowd control is becoming expensive, corporate is far more profitable. And i believe its Sky that feeds the wallet. if you want to hit his Wallet cancel your Sky subscription.

  • Maximus Moose

    A very good article but at the end of the day by going to the match your condoning Ashley

  • GR1125

    Excellent article. Folks make decisions to stay or go, it’s their decision & everyone’s circumstances are different.
    Me? I meet the same lads who I started to go to the match with 47 years ago; we have a beer or five, our sons now join us – it’s what we do. We see the same faces in the pubs, all desperate folks just like us!
    Yes, we want things to change but if it was trophies we were after we would have stopped going years ago.
    I still think we need some Messiah figure to organize something against the regime but I believe that it will be embarrassment or shame which will drive Ashley out, not losing a few quid at the turnstile.
    Pardew suddenly departed & Ashley will certainly depart.
    Until then, why should I allow him to stop me having a good day out in my town (apart from 90 minutes sometimes) with friends & family?

  • v0ices

    SGM v0ices sky and BT sport do indeed feed the wallet if you want to hit his wallet don’t go and see what sanctions they have about playing in front of a empty stadium. The match day costs like stewards and policing have to be paid even if the ground is empty see how long Ashley is willing to pay that out of his own money. Only action can cause change inaction is acceptance. I cancelled my subscription to sky sports several years ago.

  • v0ices

    GR1125 no one wants to stop that but there are other activities you could do. Ashley has no shame he only cares about money.

  • onedavidmccreery

    Great article. I get utterly p#ssed off with these keyboard warriors that bleat on about staying away, when in truth nufc probably isn’t that great a part of their life anyway!
    I go simply so my 10 year old son gets to see the mags. The bairn is black and white daft, as I was back in the day. Why the he’ll should he be embroiled in the politics of it all, when his sole aim is to simply see his team play week in week out.
    Nothing has changed since I was a teenager and mckeag and Co were robbing the mags. I turned up home and away to watch guff like Andy Thomas, Darren Jackson etc.. simply because they were my team and still are today.
    It’s fairly simple I go to enjoy my time with my son and the joy he simply gets from his team Newcastle United FC.

  • Hez

    Fair enough, people can obviously go to the games if they like, it’s a free world! I think the majority of articles I read like this or hear of fans justifying to go to the games, nobody mentions the football! Only the social side and “crack” you get at the match. In my opinion the football is crap and the atmosphere at the game is crap so there must be some cracking small talk going on in the Galllowgate end these days. The club expected to announce 50 million profits next week while at the same time investing minimum in the team again for next season, padding out the sqaud with kids so again no lessons learnt and the circle of mediocrity will continue, I certainly won’t be paying hundreds of pounds so Ashley can upgrade his helicopter, his sports shops and his expanding waist.

  • Hez

    Gate receipts are hug key important to the club, 35,000 season tickets at around 500 pound each?

  • Adelphi

    A well written balanced article. Good to see amongst the volumes of angry nonsense most sites are filled with.
    A lot  of us just like going to the match and supporting the club we were born in to. Supporters come and go – some more easily than others, jumping on the bandwagon when times are good and off it when they’re not. We still fill St:James’ for most games.
    So if you choose to do something else with your weekend fine, but please cut out the martyrdom crap.

  • MikeAshleyLies

    Hez You think Newcastle fans watched Bill McGarry’s team for the quality of football?

  • MikeAshleyLies

    Hez 

    In 09/10 matchday income was 50% of the clubs income.

    In 12/13 matchday income was 27% of revenue.

    In 13/14 it was less that 20%

    in 16/17 it will drop to 15%

    Fans become less relevant every 3 years that a new tv deal is announced.

  • Hez

    You could argue that for 90% of nufc managers, McFaul, Ozzie, Souness, Roeder. The big difference is at least the board weren’t telling fans that there is no interest or being blatantly dishonest about progression and ambition. The club wasn’t making millions of pounds in profits and owned by a billionaire making it one of the top financial teams in the country. The football played by NUFC has largely been rubbish except for pockets of “success”, if fans are happy to accept Ashleys lies then totally fine by me, no problem it’s their cash and their “day out” at the match. The longer Ashley makes his millions the better for him

  • v0ices

    MikeAshleyLies Hez less relevant but hardly irrelevant that 15%  drop in income would see many clubs in financial troubles.

  • Hez

    v0ices MikeAshleyLies Hez  Its still 20 million quid no matter how you butter it up, or half of the expected profit figures the club are expected to announce, paying for his copter!

  • Hez

    v0ices SGM  Internal catering etc may have been sold off BUT do you not see the more people attending games are customers the higher those contracts are, again more people going making more money for Ashley. If 20,000 dropped of the gate those contacts would be smaller.