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Malicious neglect and responsibility – Mike Ashley and Newcastle United

6 years ago

I wish it was possible that when the history of Newcastle United was considered, it would look something like this:

1895: Club established

2007-2016: Club suspended (a regime ran a football club at the same location but not recognisable as the same club 1895-2007)

2016- : Club re-established

These 9 years have been an aberration. The malignant, greedy, stupid and incompetent have changed our great club into an unrecognisable one. These Dark Ages in the history of NUFC should just be accorded a blank page in the annals of the club’s history.

I move that NUFC ceased to exist from 2007 until the current owner is removed from or removes itself from the club, hopefully in 2016 but who can tell when. During this period, the club has not been run as a community football club, it has been turned into a mere marketing tool for a clothes shop and as such, NOT a football club in any recognisable sense.

That much should surely now be clear to a growing number of people if they can look past the schadenfreude of yesterday’s relegation.

I hold the PL and the FA partly responsible for allowing this to happen over a period of time; ultimately there are no checks or regulations in place in England to stop a football club being held ransom to the non-footballing interests of an owner with, in principal, a non-footballing agenda.

This is a fact as the FA confirmed it in a letter to me which effectively said that none of the many non-footballing motivations of an English football club owner were of interest to the FA, that none of the transgressions of the owner (many examples were quoted including his illegal activities as established in the English courts) were of interest to the FA and that the English Premier League was a more pertinent authority regarding the conduct of such a football club in England.

Regarding the PL and whether it would or could act to censure the owner or the way he ran the club, its stated aim is as “…the organising body of the Barclays Premier League with responsibility for the competition, its Rule Book and the centralised broadcast and other commercial rights.”

On the Rule Book referred to the PL says “Any serious breach of the Rule Book results in an independent three-person tribunal sitting to hear the case, ascertain guilt and set the punishment, which can range from fines to points deductions and, in extreme cases, expulsion from the competition.”

To pause a moment, here are just a few examples of what may be considered as transgressions which could fall foul of the Rule Book (thus leading to censure regarding the way our club has been run, with the prospect of causing a change from non-footballing to footballing objectives being at the heart of the club).

  1. The owner admitted to an employment tribunal that he repeatedly and intentionally lied to and misled the press, public and the fans of Newcastle United
  2. Mike Ashley was fined by the SFA for a rules breach in relation to dual interest in Rangers and NUFC
  3. The properly constituted fans’ Supporters Trust (NUST) was banned by the owner from partaking at its Fan’s Forum meetings for trumped up and disproportionate reasons.
  4. In Scotland, the owner has been exposed by a Parliamentary Committee, accusing him of unacceptable behaviour.
  5. The owner was found guilty at an English court of law of constructively dismissing its manager, a former England Manager
  6. The owner has seen his Newcastle side knocked out of the FA cup by Stoke, Hull, West Brom, Stevenage, Brighton, Cardiff and Leicester and has apparently said to various senior people, who have reported it informally, that he does not want NUFC to succeed in cup competitions as it may threaten league survival – hence it could be, (and has been) argued, that NUFC is distorting the FA Cup, for example, by effectively throwing games.
  7. The owner removed the St James’ Park name (after saying that he would not) and replaced it with that of his shop and with no fan dialogue and against the wishes of said fans.
  8. The owner pays nothing to advertise any of his various brands at St James Park. The potential income achievable for our football club is being restricted and merchandising and other income streams are apparently being channelled to his external companies to the detriment of the football club itself.
  9. The owner said he couldn’t take his kids to games because they would be assaulted by Newcastle fans. Northumbria Police confirmed there was no threat whatsoever….
  10. The owner has at various times banned The Chronicle, The Journal, The Sunday Sun and The Telegraph for reporting (truthfully) on events at the club.
  11. The owner sold shirt sponsorship rights at NUFC to a payday lender that charges 5,853% interest rates.
  12. The owner has asked fans of the club to pay an additional fee in order to purchase an away ticket.
  13. The owner apparently said in court that he paid for signee Gonzalez in order to get first choice of young South American players, but none arrived, one of many examples of him saying one thing and doing another.

What would the PL’s Rule Book have to say about any of these, do you think any of the above examples contravenes the PL’s own regulations?

The “Rules” run to 154 pages, which does seem at first glance rather baffling, although 12 of these pages are just the contents pages for the rules themselves and 15 pages for a glossary.

Of the other 127 pages, what do they say about the expected conduct of their Members that may be pertinent?

Not a single word of the 176,218 words!

The Rules are mostly about promotion and relegation, ownership, facilities, staff registration and contracts and dozens of other things.

There is space in the Rule Book to say “Each UK TV Commentary Position shall consist of 3 seats and be no less than 3 metres wide and 1 metre deep”, but as with the FA’s modus operandi, nowhere in this Rule Book does it seem to find any room to say:

  • Clubs should be run primarily for footballing reasons
  • Clubs can be censured for not acting in the best interests of their fans
  • Clubs can be censured for acting predominantly to enrich owners’ personal interests outside those of the clubs they own
  • That transgressions in other leagues (e.g. Scotland) may be considered pertinent regarding the activities of joint-owners of PL Clubs
  • That not striving to succeed in league and cup competitions is a breach of Members’ expected behaviour
  • Clubs should not lie to fans
  • Clubs found to have breached English law (such as in the case of being found guilty in an English court of law of constructively dismissing its manager) will face PL censure

So with a conflicted owner and regulators uninterested and unable to act according to their very terms of reference, the mismanagement of our club and inevitable second relegation have been sadly predictable. Objectively their seems a clear disconnect between NUFC being run as a personal money-making machine rather than as a thriving community football club able to achieve a level of success based on its size/income/no. supporters/history (whichever metric you choose to use).


Died owing to malicious neglect and indifference 2007

Resurrected 20??


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