As Newcastle fans we have all, at one time or another over the past few years, been dismayed by our apparent lack of progress in the transfer market, our inability to keep hold of our best players, or even the lack of respect shown to the cup competitions.

Even the lack of empathy or open discourse with the very lifeblood of the club, the fans, is something that is appalling and been criticised by everyone in football.

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There has equally been plenty of times that we have seen discussions, bordering on heated arguments, over what the best course of action is.  Staying away seems to be the common thread – hurt Ashley where he values most, the pocket.  But in these times of crazy TV revenue, will a few thousand fans staying away really make as big an impact as we all think?

Like it or not, once you get to the Premiership, season ticket sales account for very little and while an empty stadium might bring some recognition on TV, it would also bring with it the scorn of other fans telling us we are half-hearted, criticising the fans rather than owner.  Other fans would love to get one over on us.

However, I am certainly not going to say people shouldn’t turn up to matches, or give up their season tickets. Who knows if it will effect change, but as I sit halfway around the world from St James Park it is easy for me to pass judgement on what should or shouldn’t happen, when I don’t have that decision to make.

For some Newcastle fans, going to St James Park is a tradition that they don’t want to give up, for others it may be the only chance they have to catch up with old friends now they are married with kids.

I’m sure others think that the moment they stop going the club would finally win something…that casino mentality of ‘just one more bet’.  It is not for anyone to tell people they shouldn’t go to games, if that is your choice and you feel that way then fine, I salute your conviction and back your decision.

I am also not alone in wondering about the outcome of the current season.  No players in yet, plenty out the door (although the quality of those leaving and how much they will be missed is debateable).

It hasn’t got much lower for me as a Newcastle United fan than last season…even past relegations weren’t as painful as the drab way we limped over the line without a fight.  Beyond the final game of the season, there wasn’t much to shout about but even less to get passionate about.

We all hoped that Ashley’s battle cry on the final day was a sign of change, but deep down I think we were all sceptical.  This is a man who has abused his power at the club since taking over, all in the name of getting the most out of it financially for himself, while stringing the club up to the buzzards.

newcastle fans

He’s tied us down with a debt that shouldn’t be there, he changed the stadium name to gain sponsorship money, he has sold off every available asset while shrinking the wage bill, all in the name of profit.  And yet here he was promising a better future, a change of heart, a new direction.

But while we all scratch our heads in wonder, complain about the lack of direction, the lack of new blood, the despair of fans and the exodus from the stands, it all too easy to forget that we the fans may often expect too much and it is more important than ever for us to stick together and do the one thing that has united us for years.

As the banner said: “Support the Team, not the Regime!”  There have been too many fans of late seemingly wanting the team to fail, that it seems so bad that the one thing that would make things better, is the one thing that most of us can’t stand thinking about.

Whoever steps on that pitch, whoever manages the team, it is OUR team, OUR club.  Every fan has the right to criticise when things are going badly, but only if they themselves give their all in support.

Too often players are booed for one misplaced tackle, for a lucky last minute goal by the opposition.  There are times when the performances aren’t good enough, but the fans also need to back them fully…don’t give them excuses of a hostile environment.

Too often we reading about people slating McClaren…he’s here, he’s our manager, support him – it’s as if some just want him to fail so they can complain about something else, to prove themselves right.

Whatever happens in the transfer market from here until the season kicks off, whatever you choose on the ticket front, just support the team that steps out against Southampton on that first day.

I was drawn to this club because of the passion of the fans, let’s not let that leave because of one man intent on destroying what we all cared about.

At least if the team goes down because of lack of investment it won’t be from lack of support from the fans and we can all still hold our heads high and point the finger firmly at the owner for the blame.

HWTL!

You can follow the author on Twitter @DownUnderMag

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  • JohnBatchelor

    A well written article and a fair point of view. I’m afraid I have to disagree with several (but not all) of your points though.
    Boycotting games brings huge amounts of negative publicity upon MA and his retched cohorts. When this began to happen towards the end of last season MA embarked upon a desperate publicity offensive culminating in his final day ‘interview’ to try and prevent further fan action. Negative publicity and coordinated fan action scares him far more than the relatively minor loss in revenue. For this reason I think boycotts and protests are very effective. It’s heat he can’t ignore because it plainly highlights the awful truth of what he’s done and continues to do, but on a national rather than local scale.
    Worrying about what other fans will say is pointless. Who cares? Really though? I don’t care what fans of other clubs think about NUFC fans. They already think we’re entitled, sentimental and reactionary. I couldn’t care less if their opinion becomes worse than that. MA has turned the club into a joke already so why worry? A lot of people need to face that and start taking meaningful action against the owner rather than accepting the terrible situation as it stands. Blindly supporting the team on the basis of it being a social occasion does nothing to help the dire situation we find ourselves in.
    Sorry for the essay! Just felt I needed to add my tuppence worth!

  • Shipcote Willy

    Disagree with ‘support the team not the regime’because by supporting the team you are supporting the regime. Ashley has caused apathy but also split the fans by exploiting their loyalty. Some will support the team come what may whilst others will boycott. It seems that whatever we do he will continue to dumb down and shrink the club. Our status in the football world diminishes with every year he is in charge. Blindly supporting the tram while Ashley does this smacks of burying heads in the sand.

  • Grumpyoldmag

    Spot on article for me mate

  • Chemical Dave

    Totally agree with your comment about worrying what fans of other clubs think, its weak and its pathetic IMO.

  • Ring around Uranus

    This current squad of players is the weakest in the premier league,end of.

  • grahame49

    In our lows in the 70s 80s and 90s our crowds dropped to under 10000 at times and regularly under 15000, I was in them crowds a lot of the time and a regular at away games in late 70s early 80s from 500 at Bolton on a Tues night to 10000 at man u to see a 5 0 defeat, but its never felt as hard to love my club as it is today. To the 50000 who turned up at west ham game well done this season is a hard choice for some easy for others

  • JohnBatchelor

    Shipcote Willy couldn’t agree more. Hopefully better days are coming but we’ll not see them under Ashley.

  • jack1x

    There’s no flickering light , only doom and gloom , the latest we are linked with , reading midfielder , derby striker , are these the quality signings we weed told about , it’s gonna be a long hard struggling season again , not looking forward to it at all , the only way is is to boycott en masse , get this regime out , the only way to save our club .

  • desree

    If those who go to games want to see real change, the only answer is to stop going.
    Ashley understands the retail business well. He knows that if customers don’t go to his shops he goes bust.
    Whilst I agree that he has contempt for fans, what about his other customers ie skysports and the PL. Are sky and the PL sit back whilst there are empty stadiums tarnishing their brand and product. Just like a high end shopping mall wouldn’t tolerate sports direct, neither would the pl.
    Don’t underestimate to power of fans, if we all pull in the same direction then we will win.
    The bickering between us is senseless. If you wanted the tories out, would you vote for them in the polls?
    Supporting the team is admirable it is also an endorsement for NUFC to continue along the sane path.
    I really hope that the lack of transfer activity is down to us having deals in progress. The lack of activity suggests otherwise.

  • DownUnderMag

    desree the trouble is, Sky and the papers would love there to be loads of turmoil, a relegation dogfight, crying fans on the final day of the season.  It makes great TV and sells papers.  Their ‘brand’ isn’t about positive football, it’s about drama, about theatre…it doesn’t have to be positive stories, negative ones tend to sell better anyway.  I’m sure we have deals in the making, even Ashley can’t be that stupid to think we are going to be OK going into the new season with what we already have…

  • DownUnderMag

    JohnBatchelor Tuppence worth accepted, that was my point, generate some proper discussion rather than just the cathartic complaints we see so often these days.
    I fully respect any fan who wants to stay away, that is their way of trying the affect change and I honestly hope that if enough do it then it will bring about change.
    I personally don’t worry about the other fans opinions, but some fans do.  It’s never nice having your loyalty brought into question but often it’s more down to jealousy than anything which actually makes me laugh when you see what happens when certain clubs don’t win anything for a season or two, yet the media tend never to label them as glory hunters etc…

  • DownUnderMag

    Shipcote Willy I agree, it’s a catch-22.  Support the team and hope they do everyone proud and cement Ashley in place … or… boycott and protest in hope for change but risk the club getting relegated.  Would relegation even help?  Ashley would still want return on his investment, there would still be the parachute payments and he would have the perfect excuse to refuse investment.  Or could that be the thing that finally makes him sit up and pay attention?  It’s a tough call and a bit of a gamble either way…I think it is something that every fan needs to make a decision on for themselves, not because certain fans do it therefore expect everyone else to do it.  it’s a tough call, fans have their reasons either way, I was playing devils advocate in trying to show both sides to the story.
    Who knows, we may be sitting reading articles on here in 3 or 4 weeks time about a successful transfer window, looking forward to the new season and Ashley having finally turned the corner.  I’ll not hold my breath mind you!

  • foggy

    DownUnderMag desree  Maybe Ashley is looking at the first half of last season and thinking to himself that the team were doing ok. Then along comes a complete donkey of a coach to nearly scupper his happy ship.
    So Ashley thinks that with a better coach, same squad we’ll be safe as the titanic was rumoured to be.

  • foggy

    jack1x  We’ll all know the season is well and truly F’d when Bournmouth best us home and away

  • desree

    I ditched the foxtel subscription in Feb and won’t be paying to watch nufc again. And everything you mention will be massive brand damage for sports direct.

  • desree

    we won 6 games in a row the other 32 were garbage. He will likely be thinking along your lines though, hence the horse and cart analogy, it can mean anything he wants it mean.

  • Andgeo

    I tend to agree with most of your comments but on this one I disagree. NUFC simply cannot go on with Mike Ashley. We have to get rid of him and for the sake of our club this has to be done now, at all costs. The longer this goes on the harder it will be to rebuild on every level not just on the pitch. The reputation all damage is just as bad as the complete rubbish we have had to endure on the pitch. We all need to make a stand now. This guy is a complete failure as a football club owner and has absolutely no business pulling the strings at our football club, never mind using the club to subsidise his already multi billion pound fortune in the name of financial control. Ashley out!!

  • Andgeo

    That’s shy the message to the fat scum needs to be loud and clear from the first whistle.

  • Andgeo

    It’s not so much stupidity it is ignorance and arrogance. He thinks he knows best. In reality most toon fans would have done a better job.

  • Belfast Ali

    Best read on here in weeks!

  • Demented_Man

    And yet another reiteration of the ‘Support the team, not the regime’ slogan.  Yawn.

    You don’t really want me to tell you that is way past its sell-by date, do you?

  • DownUnderMag

    Andgeo some fans yes, others would have us bankrupt in a week lol