The Siege of St James Park
Imagine 52000 supporters at every game but gathered outside St James Park.
Imagine the supporters of Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern tolerating the treatment we receive.
It is hard to imagine either scenario.
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The manager and players have talked recently about their siege mentality. Making it reality would bring worldwide focus to our plight. Making it happen would need the fan base to unify as never before. The outcome, though uncertain, could have a devastating impact on the club including income, sponsorship, TV and PR. But the club would know that they had passed the tipping point.
Mike Ashley and his regime have done some good things, like controlling the cost structure, but these are without real worth in isolation. He has stolen our soul, the soul of a city, and will never find redemption with The Geordie public.
There should be a symbiotic relationship between all parties involved in a city’s football club. This is not the case at Newcastle and the situation is deteriorating.
We, the fans, see ourselves as stakeholders and passionate participants. The owner casts us as customers, an obliging, invited TV audience that will turn up come what may. The stress cracks in an unwanted and increasingly bitter relationship are widening by the day.
Press and pundits perpetrate the myth of unrealistic expectations ignoring attendance levels that few, if any, clubs without a trophy in nearly 50 years could match.
Matt North’s excellent article in The Mag of 13th February (“Newcastle United- Specialists in failure”) dispels this myth at a stroke.
In these days of the football mercenary, the toxic environment of Newcastle United will only exacerbate the present situation as the malaise further weakens team performance and commitment. Low morale is everywhere.
To the average supporter Mike Ashley is spiteful and seems to relish the punishment he inflicts. This ranges from lack of ambition, appointment of unqualified managers and petty actions like moving the singing section. It is hard to envisage any other top flight club behaving in this way.
Barring the intervention of a white knight buyer we seem to be left with two options; out survive the current regime or bring it to its knees. We are following the out surviving route because it is more comfortable and organising the fan base is difficult.
Critics call us sheep and stooges for continuing to attend matches and line Mike Ashley’s pockets. To a degree they are right but we are also supporting the black and white spirit and a community we love.
For lifelong supporters and season ticket holders it would be hard not go to our cathedral every two weeks with all that involves.
However, if we can mobilise ourselves it would be worth taking the pain of missing games for long-term gain. Forget the argument of how this would have a negative impact on the team, they can’t do much worse with us outside the ground.
The ‘Ashley Out’ campaign is the closest thing we have to leadership of the Toon. The call to arms to boycott the Spurs game probably came too late but it will be interesting to see how effective this is.
Unless the club give an unambiguous commitment to appoint a new management team before the season starts, coupled with an explicit player acquisition programme, the siege should start with the final home game against West Ham when the eyes of the TV world will be on the Premiership.
This then gives fans the close season to judge the club’s actions and to decide on whether to commit to the long-term siege of St James’ until big Mikey leaves town.
Can we do it? Yes we can.
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