I have little doubt that the cunning plan laid out on behalf of Mike Ashley by his PR chief Keith Bishop, is to force the Newcastle fans into a classic case of Catch 22.

The supporters cannot win either way.

Shelve the protests and Mike Ashley has quelled the sizeable pressure momentum that had built up on both him and Sports Direct, or continue protesting and then be the easy scapegoat if relegation did happen.

To this end, Mike Ashley and his PR guru have had the minions hard at work, sending out the message that everybody has to be in it together…time for protests is sometime else….relegation must be avoided at all costs for ALL our sakes.

Tuesday saw yet another example, with Bobby Moncur once again wheeled out by Ashley in the Chronicle to tell us that we need to put differences to one side and ‘mistakes’ would be addressed after the end of the season.

Another popular expression put out by club officials is having a ‘post-mortem’ after the season closes.

All sounds reasonable…that is if you forget just what happened exactly two years ago.

The end of the 2012/13 season saw United desperately fighting the drop, only saving themselves in the second last match of the season away at QPR. Sounds familiar?

Back then we were told similar stuff, with summits planned between Mike Ashley, Derek Llambias, Alan Pardew and Graham Carr.

We were told everything would be looked at; what had gone wrong, how it should be addressed, then a plan put into action with player recruitment and so on, to correct the shortfalls that had been exposed that season.

The season finished and we waited, press sympathetic to the club continuing to put out messages of addressing problems, plans being put in place and on we go.

Claims were made of meetings/conference calls happening between Mike Ashley and the likes of Llambias, Carr and Pardew but nothing made public, or any clear message of what exactly was happening to make sure the near disaster of the season just ended, wouldn’t be repeated.

Then on 16 June 2013 Joe Kinnear appeared on the radio telling everybody he was the new Newcastle United Director of Football. How we laughed.

Three days later Derek Llambias resigned his post via an appearance on Sky Sports, rather than doing it through the club.

Eventually the club made the scarcely believable announcement that they weren’t going to replace the Chief Executive who had been running the club…not until 10 months later was Lee Charnley promoted to the post of MD.

‘Sorting out’ the near relegation problems, then basically became a combination of silence and increasingly bizarre behaviour from Joe Kinnear as he used his telephone book containing the number of everybody in football, to buy…nobody.

So to recap, Newcastle United reacted to near disaster in 2013 by telling us all that everything would be addressed and lessons learnt. The action then amounted to buying no players, not replacing the CEO who resigned and an appointment of JFK to Director of Football.

Two years later and the second half of the season has seen the manager walk out and then not replaced, players sold and loaned out in January when we were short of numbers and quality, nobody bought.  Chaos has followed and a plummet towards the relegation zone, once again we are told that everything will be sorted if we get through to the summer safely.

How can anybody have any faith when the club cry ‘wolf’ yet again?

mike ashley

Apart from emotionally blackmailing fans, the contribution of the club to fighting relegation has been to release prepared statements in the names of Charnley, Coloccini and Carver (his was spoken) which all basically just tell us to support the team or else we (the fans) will be to blame.

Mike Ashley hasn’t even bothered going to matches once relegation became a possibility, Saturday saw his PR guru Keith Bishop in the Directors Box but no sign of the owner.

The Fans Forum want to have a meeting ASAP with the club to address the problems they see at NUFC and not unreasonably they think it is essential that Mike Ashley is there to give the meeting credibility, with only 12 days to go until the end of the season there’s still no confirmation that this meeting will take place.

We are told what we have to do (blindly support the team) but we are told nothing of how these ‘mistakes’ by Mike Ashley and his minions will be tackled.

Can you honestly say you believe that a credible plan will be auctioned this summer?

I’m not advocating protests/boycotts if West Ham becomes a game that Newcastle need something from. However, I do think that for there to be any semblance of belief that things could change, Mike Ashley has to take a significant step towards the supporters and start treating them with some respect. Especially in the case of the official NUFC Fans Forum whose members are after all handpicked by the club themselves.

I remember over the course of last summer speaking to a number of Newcastle United’s most fanatical and longstanding fans who were on three year deals that had came to an end. To try and guarantee they kept hold of these supporters, the club had offered them a five year attractive deal but with the condition you couldn’t pull out during that time.

Longstanding supporters were being pulled both ways, totally depressed by the situation at the club but with matchday such a big part of their lives they wondered if they could really drag themselves away from what is for many the central focus of their social lives.

I wonder how those fans feel who committed to the five year deal, to have been served up this season not only dreadful football, but also to be subjected to the shocking state of affairs off the pitch. Particularly when they are trapped/tied in for another four years of this with no hope of escape.

Many of us laugh about the idea of Joe Kinnear returning for a third time but how can we say the possibility is ridiculous, when Mike Ashley did it back in 2013 after his embarrassing behaviour the first time around as manager?

At the moment everything surrounding the club just feels rotten and if Mike Ashley selling the club isn’t an option then a minimum for most will be massive changes have to come about underneath his ownership.

I find the likelihood of credible replacements for both Lee Charnley and John Carver, as well as ambitious player recruitment this summer, as less likely than the return of JFK to run the club single-handedly.

mike ashley

The AshleyOut.com campaign took the right route by not planning anything for the West Brom match and letting matters take their own course, anything else would potentially have been divisive and made them an easy target for both the club and lazy fans who were looking for a scapegoat to blame instead of those who are really responsible.

Apart from those who think relegation is the best route forward in order to remove Ashley, the way forward for most is surely a win over QPR making the Premier League secure and then a clear message to Mike Ashley on that final day of the season against West Ham.

The 3rd best supported club in the UK (10th in Europe) this season, 18th most valuable in the world (Forbes ratings) and 19th biggest turnover (Deloitte), yet it is still deemed too dangerous to try and win a cup match.

Something has to change.

  • Toon69

    Last weeks game against WBA was the first time I’ve not watched the Toon play in nearly 30 years, either being at the club, watching it on TV or streaming it on the lappy, I decided that I couldn’t bare watching the club I love play the crap football thats become the norm, useless players not even running about or even attempting to stretch for a ball when it’s 2 feet in front of them, a defence that is made up of players who don’t care & won’t try, a strike force that struggles to get service or put the ball into the net, I’ve seen better Sunday league games from 12 years olds tbh.
    I was hoping that due it being my Bday this saturday, I’d be able to watch my beloved team in action but as we don’t seem to want to win anymore, I can’t, won’t ruin my Bday with us losinmg to QPR & dropping into the bottom 3 with relegation at this point a 50/50 chance, so I wish the club well & I hope, pray that we get a result, at least then, I can maybe watch the Wet Spams game knowing we’re staying up….. here’s hoping!!

  • lameduck9

    Toon69  I share your feelings 100% – this is my 30th season of going to games and the West Ham match will/should be my 600th Home match attended, that said, I’ve not been to the last 3 – not so much as a protest (although I’m sure my absence will have helped the AshleyOut campaign) but more for my own sanity – I simply couldn’t take the emotional hurt of sitting in my seat from where I’ve seen players try their damnest since 1993 and witness another gutless display which is only acceptable to the owner and officials.

    It remains to be seen if I go on 24th – it would be a shame not to as, like you, it’s pretty rare to have a prem match on my birthday, let alone a home one, but I have bad memories of the last 24th May game which, without wanting to tempt fate, was a certain disaster at Villa Park.

  • magpiefifer

    Good article Mark.
    I am an ex-season ticket holder and will be until Ashley goes.I hate what he is doing to my beloved club – I’m fortunate enough to remember our last domestic trophy win – 60 years ago!!!
    If we do get relegated the loyal fans of NUFC cannot be blamed in any way – how many other clubs would get our average attendances if they were served up the same slops!?
    I want us to stay up as it is probably the only scenario in which Ashley might sell, but we will likely only survive on the back of Hull not getting enough points – unless they do at Spurs what the Mackems did at Everton!
    Ashley Out.

  • onmeedsun

    Spot on. As much as a part of me wants us to drop, if only to prove to the watching world the incompetence of Ashley and crew in running a football club, it would not result in him selling as he would have to take a £200m hit, and his ‘business guru’ pride would not accept that. He would then have to stay even longer to pay back the losses in the Championship, assuming of course we ever returned to the top league and Ashley could find a buyer at £250m! We need to stay up, win at QPR, Hull draw at best at Spurs, and lay into Ashley from minute 1 at the West Ham game. Forget the team, Carver, result, leave Ashley in no doubt that he either sells or changes his strategy to one of sensible team building under the direction of a credible manager/coach. Someone who knows where to play players, can improve players and identify the missing bits of the team jigsaw. If there is no change and he stays, it’s simple – we protest during games from August, even if it takes the team down. We want Newcastle to be the place that no player or coach wants to join until it is being run sensibly. It’s the only lever we have.

  • Mal44

    At the end of the day supporters must do what they feel is best for them individually. There is no way, however, that Ashley, Charnley, Bishop, Carver etc. can blame the supporters for this shambles. They might have got away with it a few months ago but it won’t wash now with anybody; even the national press have now cottoned on to where the real problems lie. The really sad thing about all this is while I hope we manage to stay up I won’t feel that bad if we go down, unlike 2009 when I was absolutely gutted. This lot have just drained the hope, energy and trust out of nearly all of us; I don’t believe a word they say any more.

  • DownUnderMag

    The fans will never win with this oaf in charge.  It’s the same with season ticket renewals as well…fans stop going and he has the perfect excuse to spend even less that he does and again another easy excuse for relegation threats.

  • The Mag

    toonfifer I understand people clinging to any piece of driftwood such as the odd bit of good football or individual play from somebody like Perez.
    Trouble is that when standards drop so low over a long period of time, a ot of people don’t realise they’ve become used to watching rubbish. Earlier in the season Obertan had one and a half decent matches and a fair few were raving about him, same with Sammy. 
    Neither of them and many others are anywhere near the standard needed and that’s before we get to how they’re managed/coached…

  • The Mag

    onmeedsun The spell has been broken, pandora’s box opened and things will never be the same again. Whilst the fans stayed with the team against West Brom, the desire and strength of feeling that was still around even in 2009 has long gone. If nothing substantial happens from Ashley before next season then it won’t be accepted by a large proportion of the fanbase, this applying to those inside and outside SJP.

  • The Mag

    magpiefifer It is a horrible situation where fans are having to make decisions on whether to keep going or not, simply because of the owner’s conduct. Any of us who have gone for any length of time have seen enough rubbish football so it isn’t simply more of that which is making people doubt whether they should keep paying/watching.
    Everybody has their breaking point and the balance has tipped dramatically for many people in recent times.

  • Tony79

    Support them then mass season ticket cancellations.  That is what i am doing.

  • The Mag

    lameduck9 Toon69 A lot of parallels wit 2009 but the complacency this time is a lot more pronounced. I especially get the feeling that many players don’t really get how serious the situation is and inside the club there appears to be a climate of telling us each other that they are all doing everything they can and it is bad luck, injuries…what else can we do, type of attitude.
    Think fair to say you could even describe some players, especially from abroad, as being almost in shock at the situation.

  • Andgeo

    We ALL know exactly what is wrong at Newcastle United. We ALL want to know 1) is the fat [email protected] gonna [email protected] off? And If not 2) is he going to invest properly in a chairman who is capable of running the club properly, a manager who isn’t a bumbling idiot i.e. can motivate a team and a finally serious investment into the squad with a good number of international standard signings without further weakening the squad to compensate for 4 years of taking the [email protected]??? If not then the toon are at war and we are gonna bring him down! Enough is enough!!!!!!

  • Andgeo

    Toonfifer, on your side! You have to remember some of these people are just plain stupid and will believe anything they want to hear. Then again, maybe fatty has slipped them a few quid as well as not increasing their season tickets. Total morons, what we have witnessed over the past 2 years is insulting. The fact is many toon supporters could do a better job of running the club than fatty and his puppets, and most of us are now totally convinced of that fact. Why should we listen to their tripe when we know better?? If there isn’t a proper manager installed, I’m not spending another penny on NUFC until such a time that I know my money is benefitting the club and not some fat muppet who hasn’t got the faintest clue about football, never mind running one of the biggest clubs in the world.

  • Wingpaddock

    Toon fans have been duped for several years now -enough is enough. Athough there will inevitably be some fans, the zebra watchers, who will plod on and accept the crud that is being thrown at us and who will still believe the jam tomorrow promise;
    Ashley- out.
    Penfold -out
    Carver – out
    McLaren – please God no.

  • Andgeo

    Totally agree with your observations on the ‘bad luck’ surely it is the clubs fault if the team lacks discipline and can barely put out a an adequate first 11 even when everyone is fit. Is it not inevitable that a team that is seriously underfunded, lacks strength of numbers & quality and doesn’t have any leadership is going to struggle?? Cardew was happy with his squad at the end of January I seem to remember!!! Shambles…

  • toonfifer


    Its not just that the Zebra Watchers (great phrase by the way) are happy to plod on it was the actual animosity towards those who won’t stand for it any more.

    I fully understand those people who don’t want to go until Ashley leaves, what Saturday made absolutely clear is that we all need to get in the ground and give him the abuse he deserves.

    The alternative is 40,000 lambs silently watching our beloved club die.

    How about the Ashleyout campaign get everyone to attend the match and make as much anti Ashley noise as possible, especially if we are definitely safe. Its only a thought but we need to crank up the heat from inside the ground as well.

  • Paul Patterson

    The Mag lameduck9 Toon69  I think the difference with 2009 and now is minimal.
    Managerial changes, players not being up to the job and fan unrest reflect 2009 and 2015.

    However, the one difference this time is that the owner/club has taken a suicide approach to the situation.

    If relegation was a target, we’d have seen this season as a masterplan approach to it.

    Ever since promotion in 2010, almost EVERY decision that the owner has made has been used/undertaken to knack the team, p*** off the fans, tarnish club history or all of the above.

    If we go down (Fans aside) it’s what some people deserve . .

  • magpiefifer

    The Mag magpiefifer  Agree entirely with your reply.It is a very difficult decision for any loyal fan to give up their season ticket – I’ve been through the painful process! But enough is enough for so many fans with the poisonous Ashley regime – I just don’t want to be associated with anything to do with the man.

  • blackfriar1

    For many in the north east a lot of recreation time involves spending there spare time visiting St James park.After the game people used to get together and talk about the game,the result and players.However Mike ASHLEY has ruined all that in the quest for financial gain,
    What a miserable excuse for a human being.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    And he can find time to call a RFC GM, which I presume he intends to attend if it goes ahead. Once again showing his efforts and thoughts remain elsewhere and on other things at this time. As seemingly every player is wheeled out to pass comment, himself and Charnley remain utterly silent as to our Clubs plight.

  • Demented_Man

    toonfifer Those to$$ers that abused you deserve everything they get.  Just shout “baaaa…” at them the next time.

  • A lex

    If I hear anyone else connected with the club implying that “mistakes will be addressed”, I really am going to scream!!

    Journalists, others in the media, in fact anyone, who gets a response like that from a club official must simply ask, “HOW?” – Just ‘how’ are they going to address this mess! 
    I bet they’ll get a befuddled answer because, frankly, they won’t address it, and it’ll be the same old, same old, again.

  • Chemical Dave

    Great article, failing a complete change in fat boys outlook, I’d love to see Kinnear back for a third time, would be a perfect right hand man to Carver

  • magpie9

    Mal44 Cant believe I am saying this after umpteen years of following team all over the place but I look at all news on Newcastle now not looking for news on team so much as hoping to see news of Ashleys downfall & departure. Match days now are just one more day of waiting for the inavitable news of some hillarious effort of the team in trying & failing to get a 0-0 draw against a bottom of the league team. Just look at last weekend if you didnt know the result of a 1-1 tie at home with a fellow bottom half team you would have thought we had just beaten Barcelona. 1st point in 9 games DEPRESSING

  • Mal44

    magpie9 Mal44  I know. I thought Mark’s comment above (reproduced here) nicely summed things up.

    ”Trouble is that when standards drop so low over a long period of time, a ot of people don’t realise they’ve become used to watching rubbish”.

  • The fact that Ashley believes he can fool us twice !   Whats that poignant saying ?

  • Hetton Mag

    Excellent article. when we were in this position two years ago it was two goals from two defensive errors. I wondered at the time what could possibly induce a player to make such woeful mistakes. I wonder if , by coincidence of course, if something similar might happen in our last two games. You know an inexplicable sending off, penalty, own goal…………..

  • DavidDrape

    toonfifer shame you had to endure that abuse for only showing your disappointment.Being like minded fans changed after Cardiff home. My opinion and feelings have changed forever regards many other nufc fans. Things will never ever be the same in my eyes

  • stepaylor

    it was the same at the end of last season when we were going backwards. The club then spent in the summer and things were looking positive again. Then in the january window we lost more players without adding anyone and have ended up very short once again. The mistakes made this year were not hiring a new manager in early January and allowing Santon to leave. Its crazy but those 2 things have dramatically affected us since January.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    devonbay This is the third time!

  • Sickandtiredstill

    toonfifer Wingpaddock Its been said before – but our best hope is to use every televised game to damage the SD brand. That’s the only real weapon we have against him as it’s all he cares about and here we have a global platform on which to do so..

  • Andgeo

    Furthermore there should be a clear challenge as to what are these ‘mistakes’ to which the club refers.
    1) The lack of investment in the team,
    2) not appointing a real manager,
    3) selling the best players without replacing them,
    4) not communicating with supporters, 5) repeatedly misleading supporters
    6) abusing the club for free advertising and compromising the supporters hopes of seeing their club win a domestic trophy in their lifetimes thereby shattering their hopes and dreams for the financial gain of one fat parasite???
    ALL of the above are not mistakes, these things have all been done DELIBERATELY and have been repeated over the past few years. So where have the mistakes been made???

  • Sickandtiredstill devonbay You know what that makes us then !

  • Seventy2

    Fans can attend, support the team and show their disapproval all at the same time. The club has become a morgue due to the carnage created by the ‘Board’ and a post post-mortem will only expose the black heart at the centre of the club. IMO all fans should dress as Zombies for the last match, then either rejoice in moaning loudly or calling out for blood. A comical end to a truly awful season.