This morning we carried a piece from Newcastle fan Steve Jackson, who was challenging the Chronicle top brass to support the Spurs boycott,

Steve pointed out that in the past the Chronicle have been a key driver in helping change to happen, with the John Hall/Magpie Group takeover the prime example.

The United supporter also pointed out that journalists working for the nationals, such as George Caulkin of The Times, were taking a lead in backing the protests, so surely it was the Chronicle’s duty to take a similar stance and stand with the fans.

Darren Thwaites, Editor In Chief at the Chronicle has taken up the challenge and published the following on the Chronicle website:

Passions are running high. They always do in our city where football is concerned.

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley should be grateful for that. The United hierarchy will face a much bigger problem if fans ever lose their passion.

And it would be easy for any fan to do that right now.

They see a club with limited ambition to win trophies. They have an owner who never explains anything to them and appears to not care all that much what they think.

They’ve just lost five derbies and five Premier League games in a row. They have a team miles away from the standards expected in a black and white shirt.

But the passion remains, now matched by rising frustration – and it’s a heady mix that’s fuelling a powerful movement for change.

Supporters are being asked to boycott the game against Spurs, the ultimate act of protest for any loyal fan.

And we at The Chronicle – so central to all things United – are rightly being challenged to give our official backing.

So what’s our position?

Well it’s quite simple, really. We support the right of fans to stage a peaceful boycott. We understand those who feel the only way to make their feelings known is to stay away.

Sometimes when you feel you have no voice, you have to scream. Ashley probably won’t listen. But as a famous Frenchman – not in the United squad – once said: “Not being heard is no reason for silence.”

However, we also support the fans who believe their role is to support the team on the field, especially with the spectre of relegation not entirely banished.

Those who stay loyal are not doing so to endorse the Ashley regime. Most will equally desire change, although many will question what form that might take. There’s no doubt a weakness of the boycott plan is that no-one has really been able to articulate what change looks like and how it can be made to happen.

Our position is that every fan has to decide for themselves – and their decision should be respected. Our role is to present all sides, allow all opinions and explore all alternatives.

And let’s make one thing very clear. We’ve taken our approach because we believe it’s the right thing to do, not because the club has told us to.

We were banned for more than a year by United because we defended our right to an independent voice.

We held the club to account with some of the most powerful sports journalism ever published in the mainstream press. It was The Chronicle that loudly fought to retain the St James’ Park name as other media caved in to the pressure of Sports Direct Arena.

When the ban came – following our coverage of the last significant anti-Ashley protest – we continued to do our job. Despite our banishment, we followed the club to the other side of the world on their pre-season tour to New Zealand.

mike ashley

And when the club eventually allowed us back in, no deals were done, no agreements signed. We made it clear, face-to-face, that we’d remain free to criticise without fear or favour – and the club accepted that.

At the same time, we want the club to be successful. We take no pleasure in conflict. At heart, our institution and most of the people who work within it, are passionate Newcastle United fans. We crave success and we’d love to be reporting it.

We share fans’ concerns and we’ve voiced them louder than anyone on many occasions. We fundamentally disagree with the club’s lack of ambition in cup competitions and Ashley’s apparent refusal to communicate with fans.

But we’ll always give the club a platform to address issues, whether we agree with the answers or not. That balance was denied the club during the ban because they refused to talk to us.

The fact the ban is over and dialogue has re-opened doesn’t mean we’re now the club’s apologists. It’s just responsible journalism to present all viewpoints and then allow fans and readers to draw their own conclusions.

And that’s exactly what we’re doing here.

We’ll be criticised by some for not giving unequivocal backing to the boycott.

But that’s fine. That’s healthy. We won’t shy away from the debate and we’ll cover every aspect of the proposed boycott without fear or favour.

Darren Thwaites

In response, Steve Jackson has replied with the following, an understanding up to a point of the Chronicle’s position but speaking for many supporters in his belief that NCJ/Chronicle are making a very bad choice:

Thanks Darren,

I think it would have been an extremely brave thing to do to back the boycott. In this instance you have chosen not to be brave. But I think this is your window. If the situation worsens it would be very hard to suddenly decide to be part of a movement at a later date.

I’m old enough to remember the legendary Evening Chronicle Editor Graeme Stanton backing regime change in years gone by.  Back then it wouldn’t have happened without the Chronicle. Now, if social media empower fans enough, they may wonder why they need the Chronicle at all. 

I don’t think you’ve chosen not to back fans, specifically because of fears of Ashley reprisals.  I think you don’t want to risk backing a long shot. However, with the situation that local media finds itself in – I’d have thought you’d welcome the chance to demonstrate your ongoing worth to the city.  

An opportunity missed I think. Whether the campaign succeeds or fails – you inactivity is unlikely to be forgotten by many. 

Thanks again for your reply

Regards

Steve Jackson

City Hall Gifts - shop.themag.co.uk


  • PeterS84

    I understand where the EC are coming from, I for one back the boycott and will not be attending on Sunday however most of the fans will not be boycotting and do not support the boycott, until all the fans are the same page then we cannot expect the EC to back the protest.

  • NottsToon

    To be fair the response is diplomatic and hardly surprising.

  • Demented_Man

    I’ve just heard the same thing from John Anderson.  It’s about the most you could expect.  At least it is getting publicity for the boycott.

  • RichGibb

    I can see their position. And I can see the position of those that still want to attend. Especially if you’ve been going for decades without really missing any games, it will be tough to not go.

    However, something does need to be done, its gotten that bad. I won’t be attending any games for the rest of the season. I gave up my season ticket a good while ago now, but I’d still go to some home games. Not now though, not until we see some real financing.

    I doubt we’ll get rid of Ashley, not until he’s good and ready himself. Boycott or no boycott he’s here till the money runs out. The only thing I could ever see changing that is if he starts seeing a tangable drop in his sp**ts dir**t revenue, and can directly link that back to his running of Newcastle. I’d think a petition of signature’s of people who will never again use his shop while he runs Newcastle into the ground would do more good than the current plans. Especially if its sold to fans of other clubs too. Because lets face it, MA is a malaise on football. Surely other fans can see that he’s likely to act as a beacon to other business’s of how clubs can be ‘used’. Every fan should want to sign up to stop that.

  • To be honest, I think the Chronicle is a sideshow. This is a protest led by some of the more progressive fans who have had enough of almost 8 years of Ashley & Co’s failure to live up to this club’s standards.
    It’s about:

    – The lack of any football ambition
    – The lack of appropriate investment in good players
    – 7 years into a “youth development is the way” scheme – and where are the players it produced?
    – Being told that tenth place and English Premier League Survival is “success” for a club that used to play in the Champions League
    – Getting out of cups asap and no intention of trying for Europe
    – Inability to attract a decent manager because no-one who is any good would dream of coming here
    – A massive club being drained of it’s potential by a penny-pinching approach apparently with the sole aim of maximising profit for the owner – that being the only real target.

    It’s not about a local newspaper. This fight belongs to the fans.
    It’s time to stand up and be a geordie – and fight for our club.

    It’s up to each fan to decide what they want to do. With no criticism of each other whatever that decision is.

    The one thing I take exception to is the insinuation by Carver today that any fans who boycott Spurs somehow aren’t behind the team. Total bollox.

  • mrkgw

    A very weak willed Chronicle. Shoddy to say the least and perhaps, the publication should also be boycotted.

  • Grumpyoldmag

    The chronicle editor sums up my views entirely and far more articulately than I ever could.

  • Grumpyoldmag

    A much more sensible approach I reckon – try to get the wider local community and football community to affect SD

  • Sickandtiredstill

    Grumpyoldmag A lad from Lancashire who joined the paper just last year? He’s as invested in the Club as Ashley is I would imagine.

  • Grumpyoldmag

    Dear flip you just don’t get it do you? This is not a war between supporters we aren’t taking up arms against each other. I am not rallying to the chronicles flag or saying this bloke is great he best represents the interests of newcastle United and we must all listen to him. I am saying he acvurately articulates my views – my own views no one else’s. I don’t appeal for people to follow my views or agree with me. I don’t criticise those who don’t agree with me. On nufc.com Biffa says something like make your own mind up its up to you we aren’t going to tell you what to do. Why do you and the others on here want to tell everyone who does not agree with you that they must change their mind and follow you?

  • LeazesEnder

    Nice diplomatic reply Steve Jackson…. I would have just called him a coward to his face, diplomacy not a strong point with me!

  • Paul Patterson

    The Chronicle are a newspaper.
    A newspaper should cover stories, not back them.
    You can’t knock this response from the paper.

  • No Brainer

    Seriously you have all gone mad

  • No Brainer

    What has gotten that bad the injuries?

  • Stevie Aces Renforth

    They may as well Ashley hates the press

  • NotFatFreddy

    Somehow we are missing the point!  The Evening Chronicle could be the catalyst in ridding us of the Ashley regime IF they would make a stand against his failure to produce anything of substance since he took control from Freddy Shepherd.  Think it through. 

    Why do fans think we should be happy to be like Stoke or WBA  yet with far less ambition, even zero ambition, yet 50,000 fans and one of the world’s richest clubs with one of the UK’s richest owners?

    It does my head in that any fan really wants to buy another season of zero ambition to be above 10th place when it will eventually back fire with relegation.  Ashley could have been a Tyneside hero if he had a football brain rather than a business motivation.  It is too late for redemption and he should hear it 100% and understand as he will ever be remembered as a failure in the North East, a far greater failure than Lord Westwood who by the way was chairman when we won the Fairs Cup and broke the transfer record to buy super mac!  Backed Harvey in an era when we did produce young players from the youth set up.

    Ashley has made the club stink and the Chron should remind him who is responsible.  Ask him on the front page when he will challenge the top 6 and go for both cups?  Supply a decent manager and monies for a decent squad?  If Ashley can’t answer for himself or one of his puppets doesn’t come up with the goods, why go next season KNOWING what he thinks of NUFC supporters?

  • Michael Donnelly

    The Newcastle Chronicle are well within there rights to sit on the fence, they report the latest news, there not a movement & pretty sure they will project this protest in everybody’s best interest #honestly it’s a choice for every fan how they portray this event. Hopefully one day the profiteer will leave the shores of Tyneside.

  • Stevie Aces Renforth

    Michael Donnelly tbh with you I don’t think it will work this boycott there is to many fans think he is doing a good job I hope I am wough but it be good to see a empty football ground but there is all wys fans will turn up

  • Yar562

    Of course EveryBody is entitled to to protest in their own way . I fully respect the boycott , but if you feel you can not give up attending the match, how about a temporary walkout after our 17 min fitting tribute applause with the whole world watching .1000 of people leaving their seats would be a powerful image . I know this might be seen as disrespectful to the memory of the two lads by some , but I just think it would show the club that just as we fans are all totally together in our tribute we are seen to be together in our support for change .however we choose to show it.

  • Michael Donnelly

    Stevie Aces Renforth it’s not about whether it will work or not it’s about making the fans feelings known to the profiteer that we are not happy “simple” whether outside the leazes in the ground or after at the gallowgate, but see your point there will be fans on both sides no doubt, but we have to do something anything & there will be a lot of media coverage.

  • Peter Lamb

    Doing nothing= more of the same. Wake up

  • DavidDrape

    agree steve, NJC  HQ based in manchester no doubt so what would you expect. still think they are sxxx scared of ashley though. the facts are the local public have kept this paper alive for years

  • newcastle7

    I do not support the boycott and think it is a disgrace when we are not safe from relegation.To turn your back on the team not matter how bad they are is the ultimate betrayal.We are the only fans this weekend kicking off not Heartlepool,Leeds,Portsmouth,Coventry or Notts Forest who have won the European cup.As usual just us.To all fans going on Sunday I salute you are the heart of the football club.
    To those you stay away you do not care enough as we need to back the team and get three points.

  • newcastle7

    Also what Steve Jackson does not realise is that nearly fifty thousand supporters do not support the boycott.
    Why should the Chronicle bow to a few hundred ex supporters who do not even go to games.
    What about a six page article on why we should go to the game on Sunday like you lot had last week.
    It might come as a surprise to you Steve but most of us want to support the team on Sunday not run away.

  • Tony79

    newcastle7 You’re repeating yourself mate.
    You’re either working for ashley, a mackem or a traitor to try and persuade oner fans to give up their protest.
    If you want to go fine, stop smearing people making a stand.
    Coward

  • Tony79

    Grumpyoldmag you’re deluded and apathetic.  Don;t try and infect the rest of us with your defeatism when we are trying to take a stand

  • nufcslf

    No Brainer No, arse holes that can’t see the damage the fat prick is doing. All lined up for another poor ninety minutes and home loss. Enjoy your day out all the same. Not a football brain between the lot of you or you would no not to go.

  • Ashley banning journalists is a meaningless threat in any case, because nobody at the club ever says anything of merit. Carver has taken up Pardew’s role of spouting approved rubbish every week, and nothing of substance ever gets said by anyone else working for the club.
    That said, I’d still like to see the government take action to protect free speech and punish those (such as Ashley) who attempt to block the free speech of others.

  • DownUnderMag

    Reporting on all things NUFC is what half the Chronicle/Journal sales are from, so it makes sense they do not want another club ban put in place for daring to rebel against the running of things by the current regime.  Maybe it’s a big question mark on freedom of speech and the right to ask questions regarding the nitty gritty running the club, but they are well within their right not to get involved here.

    The right to protest and/or boycott is every fans right.  You pay your money (or don’t) and you can do what you like.  The option is there, it’s a statement on intent, that fans are approaching the point of having enough (well I think we passed that a long while back but they have seemingly been content to hope that better is on the horizon…so I guess I mean hope is dying).

    People like newcastle7 have their right to still turn up (if indeed they will and won’t be stuck at a pub watching the mackem game instead as most of us suspect or will be present at the game in Ashley’s box) but it is also fans right to NOT go as well.  It’s personal choice, if you have had enough of the way things are then protest.  It may not do any good, but at least it shows some passion from the fans which has sadly been lacking of late.

  • No Brainer

    Tony79 newcastle7 Your right Tony oner fan is protesting this week, the other 47,999 will still be going to the game.

  • DZA187

    mickg well said.