Thank you for your kind letter. I thought I might take a moment to drop you a line by way of reply.
The main point of your letter is to say that we at NUFC – club, players and fans – are in a desperate situation, and that in spite of any differences we may have, it is important for us all to come together and pull in the same direction for the next couple of weeks to avoid the disaster of relegation. That, I think, is the gist of what you’re saying.
I’m afraid to say that I disagree with you.
Let me be clear. I have nothing personally against you – I think you’ve been a fine, fine player for us. I’ve been a Newcastle supporter for over 40 years, and I would pick you as one of the centre-halves in my all-time NUFC 1st eleven!
And for a very long time I would have been one of our owner, Mike Ashley’s biggest supporters. When he arrived at the club I thought our boat had come in. After a succession of bungling, hopeless owners and directors (Sir John Hall excepted) here was a businessman who had risen from nothing to become one of the country’s richest men – and he was buying our club! Result!
Even after the terrible business with my hero Kevin Keegan, I still hoped for the best. I thought that, even if he didn’t like the club, even if he held the fans in contempt, even if all he was interested in was making a profit, the way for him to make a profit was to use his financial muscle and business acumen to grow the business by making the team successful.
I’m afraid that finally I’ve been driven to take a different view.
Have you ever seen a picture of a sea louse? It is a massive parasite which grows in the mouth of a fish.
That’s Mike Ashley, that is – a massive parasite.
Parasites don’t work by killing their host – they keep it alive and healthy enough to allow them to feed off it. And they suck as much juice out of it as they can get away with without killing it. An animal with a parasite like that is going to go on living, but it’s never going to thrive – the parasite won’t let it, because every bit of spare sustenance gets swallowed up by the parasite.
But the worst thing that the club has had sucked out of it isn’t the money – it’s the hope. Let’s face it, in my lifetime as a Newcastle fan, hope is pretty much all we’ve ever had to go on. But hope is what supporting a football club is all about. It doesn’t matter if you’re supporting Man Utd, or Newcastle United, or Blyth Spartans. Every supporter of a football club has a certain level that they expect that football club to reach, and they hope for better.
But at Newcastle, one of the world’s 20 richest clubs, and with the 7th biggest turnover in England, we have nothing to hope for – we won’t try to win a cup, or to qualify for Europe; we won’t be signing any big names; if we happen to unearth another Beardsley or Shearer they’ll be sold on at a profit; our target will be a profitable mid-table obscurity.
Fabricio, you ask us all to come together as one big family to try to avoid relegation and keep our beloved club in the Premier League. Why? What would we have to hope for next season in the Premier League? The race for 10th place?
It seems bizarre and unnatural to say it, but the only hope I can see for us is to rid ourselves of the parasite which afflicts us. And the only way I can see that happening is if the rich pickings of the Premier League are taken away from it. If we stay up – it’s just going to be the same thing again next year, and the year after that…Hopeless!
I won’t be going to St James’ at the weekend. I expect I’ll go for a long walk somewhere and leave my phone at home.
So, Fabricio, I hope you have a good game at the weekend – but I hope you lose.
(To feature like Travis, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)