Writer Luke Summers has produced a guide to Newcastle United, Mike Ashley, and the planned boycott, for those not of the black and white faith.
Here is his idiot proof guide to NUFC:
Dear non-Newcastle supporters,
It’s very easy to look in on a situation and judge a fan base and call them fickle or deluded and with Newcastle United there has been a lot of criticism about how they were wrong to hound out Pardew, or shouldn’t be so upset at their board because they are an established PL club. So hopefully this piece will help you understand why we are so angry at the way our club is being run.
Why are Newcastle fans so angry? Nobody has a divine right to success and you’re a solid mid-table team living within its means.
Football is all about hope and at Newcastle, there is no longer excitement on a match day. Under Ashley we suffered our first relegation in 20 years, and barring one successful season we have scraped a lower to mid-table finish every year.
The stringent transfer policy of buying young and relatively unknown foreign players and then selling them on may be successful financially but it has created a disjointed team full of mercenaries who use the club as a stepping stone to Champions League clubs. Mathieu Debuchy recently revealed that this had been his plan when he joined us. The lack of fight and spirit in the team is marked, typified by five successive derby defeats to a Sunderland side battling relegation. There is no excuse for a professional team to lack enthusiasm and effort.
We understand that we will never have the resources to battle for Champions League but with a huge fanbase, the third largest stadium in the league and a strong recent history of European football, it is not delusional to expect a top 8 finish more often than not.
Our finances may be a lot more secure than others in the league but we still owe Mike Ashley £129m and would like to see more of our profits from player sales reinvested in the squad. Last season we were ranked the 19th richest club in the world, only just behind Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan but that doesn’t win you football matches.
Our club’s policy towards cup games is also completely unacceptable. The last trophy Newcastle won was in 1969. Football is all about winning and for the majority of teams who can’t realistically win the league, the FA or League Cup provides an opportunity to get some silverware. Our board have made it quite clear that cups ‘are not a priority’ and our current streak of four successive FA Cup defeats is the worst run we’ve had since entering the competition in 1887.
The treatment of individuals has been appalling also. The regime in charge displayed their true colours in their treatment of Jonas Guiterrez’s cancer. Instead of empathy he was shown nothing but contempt, told to find a new club and no offer of medial help or treatment was given.
Chris Hughton was discarded against fan’s wishes in unceremonious fashion and former director Derek Lambias thought it would be a good idea to publicly criticise club legend Alan Shearer, who pointed out the board’s lies over the sale of Andy Carroll. A football club needs a human and community side to it too and all we can see at our club is greed and selfishness.
Why do you hate Mike Ashley?
His regime has sucked the soul out of the club. This great Sir Bobby Robson quote has been overused of late but it is the best summary of what football should be about :
“What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes. It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.”
Mike Ashley’s sole aim is to keep the club in the division each season so he can siphon off the profit from each year’s TV revenue.
Since arriving at the club he hasn’t given a single interview or opened any line of communication with fans to defend himself, or let his ambitions for the club be known. The fans have a right to know what is happening at their club as without them/us there would be no Newcastle United, we refuse to be treated with such contempt.
He surrounds himself with directors who feed the board’s agenda to fans and ban any newspaper prepared to challenge his regime.
His appointment of managers, directors and board members have failed time and again.
Kevin Keegan brought back some of the hope of the previous decade but resigned after head of player recruitment Tony Jiminez (whose only previous involvement in football had been as a steward) sanctioned the disastrous signings of Xisco and Ignaio Gonzalez against his wishes.
Next up was Joe Kinnear, who’d been out of football since the early 90s and was completely out of his depth, embarrassing everyone at the club with his arrogance and incompetence.
And after Alan Shearer’s ill-fated attempt at keeping us in the Premier League, assistant Chris Hughton was appointed to keep costs down and despite masterminding a swift return to the league the dignified and popular coach was discarded for no apparent reason.
Board appointments such as Derek Lambias and Lee Charnley , neither with previous experience in football, are just as questionable characters as Ashley, both prepared to publicly misinform fans.
Renaming the stadium the Sports Direct Arena is sacrilege as far as anyone is concerned, especially as no fee was given to the club for the naming rights and even Newcastle City Council refused to accept the name change. The plastering of (free) Sports Direct advertising over the stadium has turned the ground into a giant commercial billboard and the partnership with legal loan shark
Wonga adds another toxic association to our club. Club merchandise has now been outsourced to Sports Direct so the club also misses out on millions each year.
Then there is the Mike Ashley of Sports Direct. Famed for his usage of zero hour contracts he treats his employees as just another number on the spreadsheet. He was also recently summoned to Parliament over the USC scandal and how he runs his empire in general, but refused to attend. His involvement in Rangers has also been brought under question and fan groups are opposed to him taking any more control at the club.
All in all the man cares not one bit for anything or anybody except his own wallet, has no real interest in football and refuses to be held accountable to fans or even government, despite occupying a role which is unquestionably one in the public eye.
Were you wrong to want Alan Pardew out now he’s doing a great job at Crystal Palace?
Yes Pardew is doing a great job at Palace but that doesn’t change his record in 2014 at Newcastle. In the end he became the public figure of the regime at the club and his list of excuses (ranging from blaming the Notting Hill Carnival to the crowd were too supportive) began to wear thin by the end.
He became the first manager to lose 4 successive derbies against Sunderland and was quite happy to put out reserve teams in cup competitions.
Absolutely nobody thought that putting in charge the guy who put the cones out for Pardew would be a good choice, so it’s really no surprise that John Carver has failed miserably since taking over.
I don’t think you’ll find too many Newcastle fans who now wish we’d kept him in hindsight, four years of watching dreadful football, witnessing him headbutt opposition players and insult opposition managers was quite enough.
What is this boycott about?
As fans we definitely can’t accept stagnation but it would be a whole lot easier to accept mid-table every season if it wasn’t our sole ambition. I don’t think it’s unfair to demand the club we support tries to better itself each year, we shouldn’t just sit there and be taken for fools each year.
As former American president Theodore Roosevelt once said:
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing”.
After failure after failure in every aspect of the club, typified by a group of mercenaries on the pitch, finally fans have realised that the club can continue as it is no longer. Venting frustrations on social media is not going to change the way our club is run so it is time for action to be taken.
Boycotting matches is the only real way for fans to make their displeasure known, and Ashley and club sponsors will start to take notice if there are swathes of empty seats for Sunday’s live TV match against Spurs.
You can follow the author on Twitter @Luke9S