Investment in the club will not cause Newcastle to lose our identity, like a Manchester City or Chelsea.

Amanda Staveley’s recent interest in Newcastle has quite rightly provoked a lot of excitement among fans, especially after the miserly stewardship of Mike Ashley.

Ashley has refused to invest properly in the squad for many years, as we all know. It is staggering to think, for instance, that Newcastle’s record transfer fee is still the £16 million we paid for Michael Owen 12 years ago. These days that would only buy you a third of Kyle Walker.

Staveley was instrumental in the Abu Dhabi takeover of Manchester City and is still backed by eye-wateringly rich men in the Middle East who, we are led to believe, would be only too happy to spend some of their billions at St James Park.

If Staveley and her friends got their way, however, would Newcastle United go the way of Manchester City or Chelsea and other clubs who have been bought out by foreign billionaires?

These sides may be trading Premier League titles and going toe to toe with the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich in Europe, but if you speak to many Manchester City or Chelsea fans, they will struggle to identify with many of the highly paid mercenaries who wear their team’s shirts these days. It is without doubt that for all their scintillating football, City have lost something since becoming one of the richest clubs on earth and as for Chelsea, one only has to see the way their players downed tools under Jose Mourinho to see that something has gone from the soul of the club.

This may be blind optimism but I don’t think the same thing will happen to Newcastle United if we join the rich list. For starters, St James Park is already a 52,000 seater stadium with one of the best atmospheres in the country. There will be no need for us to leave it for a modern soulless bowl to accommodate new fans. Admittedly, City left Maine Road before the current owners took ownership, but it has to be admitted that the Etihad does not have the same atmosphere.

Secondly, and the importance of this cannot be overstated, we are a one club city in one of the most passionate football centres in the country. It is difficult to lose the soul of a club whose stadium and team is rooted in the identity and heart of the city. Perhaps in cosmopolitan London, with so many different teams to choose from, the identity of a club can become blurred as Chelsea’s has been. Even Manchester, one of the greatest hotbeds of football in the country, is not a one club city.

Newcastle lives and breathes football and always will. Success or riches will not change that.

Finally, there is Rafa Benitez.

Surely no one in the club’s recent history has understood Newcastle United, its fans and its city as much as our current manager does. Rafa “gets” Newcastle, in a way that many previous managers and players never did, especially Alan Pardew. He certainly gets it in a way Mike Ashley has never even tried to.

He is also a regular fixture in the city, getting involved with everything from five a side tournaments to the local foodbank, and he ensures his players do the same.

With this man in charge, it is almost inconceivable that the club and its players could ever lose touch with their fan base and become a soulless corporate entity.

Nothing ever runs smoothly at Newcastle United, but if Mike Ashley finally leaves the club we can be optimistic that life under new owners, especially with the calming influence of Benitez, will be better not worse.

You can follow the author on Twitter @BillCrawford87 and he also has his own blog at footballforthefans.com

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  • LeroyGibbs

    “Surely no one in the club’s recent history has understood Newcastle United, its fans and its city as much as our current manager does”

    Erm – apart from Sir Kevin and Sir Bobby eh?

    • Whickhamrobbie

      or shearer ,or Carver (only kidding )

      • Dillon Tovak

        Or Stevie the cockney Geordie Taylor.

    • wheyayeman

      The only one since Harry Palmer !

  • Dillon Tovak

    I actually applaud Chelsea’s players for the way they reacted to Mourinho.
    I would lose all respect for my boss if he did what Jose did to Dr Eva.

  • Leazes Ender

    ….quote….’There will be no need for us to leave it for a modern soulless bowl to accommodate new fans’…..

    No mate but you would need to accommodate those who have boycotted Ashley numbering thousands!

    You would need a new stadium on par with Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, Tyneside loves its football more than Cardiff its rugby.

    • LeroyGibbs

      I’m sure Amanda has already been sending boxes of chocs to the toon freemen who control the town moor! What a ground that could be!!

    • Steve Smith

      Safe standing could potentially double the capacity of sections of the stadium.

      • Oooh bobbi fleckman

        But it’s not happening. If a new owner feels the need of a 60,000 plus all seater stadium, it’s on a new site.

  • Jack Millington

    Idiot. One horsed town with one eyed fans.

    • Leicester Mag

      By resorting to insults and assuming all Newcastle fans have the same view as this you do yourself and City fans no favours. Most fans have no axe to grind with City or their fans.

    • Geordiegiants

      At least we are real fans.

      • Jack Millington

        All (average crowd for 1991 16.834) of you in the 2nd division. Meanwhile City’s average for 1999 in the 3rd division 28.261. Very unreal aren’t we.

        • Geordiegiants

          Nearly a ten year diffference, football had changed immensely, 2016, 52,000 in the championship. Citeh can’t even sell out in the prem.

        • Albert Stubbins

          We averaged over twenty thousand more in the championship soft sack!!

  • DB

    City fan here…
    Grew up around the corner from main road and stuck with it through the dark years… I would not swap what we have now for what we had then in a million years and if you have been watching our football lately you would know why. Silva is humble and would get into any team Kompany is an amazing ambassador for the club, Aguero is just unreal and totally committed, KDB no words but again humble… zaba left last year and again was a fantastic guy…. i think if the club is run in the right way then players will stay and be loyal. Newcastle is a sleeping giant and I hope you get the big money investment but don’t jump on the band wagon about other clubbs and what other fans feel like. Every season ticket holder I know is loving the club just as much as you love yours….

    • LeroyGibbs

      That’ll be Maine Road!

      • Phil Yare

        yes, you would think he would get that right. do you think he knows which one was the kippax stand?

        • Leicester Mag

          Or the Bell end

          • DB

            Cheers for that. Don’t my comment deserved it but whatever makes you happy pal

          • Leicester Mag

            If you were a true City fan you would know that when asked to rename a stand. Man U fans highjacked the vote and suggested a tribute to Colin Bell.

          • DB

            Hahaha define true fan? Born and grew up within a mile of MAINE road, moved to Londonderry n aged 18 and see more away games than home but probably 15 games a season. Does that make me a true fan or do I need to go to every game and know every fact. Now you mention it I vaguely remember that but was probably busy living a full length fe that involves other things. What makes you a TRUE fan then pray tell?

          • DB

            There goes that predictive txt. LONDON and look bing a full life….

          • Leicester Mag

            For ffs I wasn’t having a dig in the first case. Merely referring to a well known story.

      • Geordiegiants

        Beat me to it!

      • DB

        That will be predictive text!

    • hetonmag

      Correct you have been in the doldrums the same as we have and I for one wouldn’t look at any other club just concentrate on our own club, you have had to live in the shadow of that other lot in the city so I for one am glad you are lording over that lot and with attractive football to go with it

      • Whitehurst

        Totally get where you’re coming from….however it’s all about the devil you know!! Yes it would be great to reach the lofty heights of what Man City have achieved following substantial investment….however I don’t want us to lose our identity, soul and ultimately our definitive roots of what has made NUFC such a special & unique club! Yes after supporting the club for over 35 years of so many ups and downs (more downs)….I don’t want us to be perceived as a club who inherits a global band of fair weather supporters. Even though the likes of Man City and Chelski have had a lot of undoubted success….I’d be loathed to inherit what I would deem as “tourist” supporters to our club! I mean by this….can easily be verified when visiting places like Stamford Bridge….where the legion of Japanese “tourists” significantly outweigh the loyal and trusty old school club supporters, who have been ever present through the good & bad times!! I guess it’s all about perspective….as well as being cautious what you wish and hope for?!

    • Whitehurst

      Totally get where you’re coming from….however it’s all about the devil you know!! Yes it would be great to reach the lofty heights of what Man City have achieved following substantial investment….however I don’t want us to lose our identity, soul and ultimately our definitive roots of what has made NUFC such a special & unique club! Yes after supporting the club for over 35 years of so many ups and downs (more downs)….I don’t want us to be perceived as a club who inherits a global band of fair weather supporters. Even though the likes of Man City and Chelski have had a lot of undoubted success….I’d be loathed to inherit what I would deem as “tourist” supporters to our club! I mean by this….can easily be verified when visiting places like Stamford Bridge….where the legion of Japanese “tourists” significantly outweigh the loyal and trusty old school club supporters, who have been ever present through the good & bad times!! I guess it’s all about perspective….as well as being cautious what you wish and hope for?! Worth a thought?

      • DB

        I don’t disagree at all but for the club to stand on its own two feet following the initial injection of cash has to involve increased revenue and that is about global reach/appeal. It’s very much a double edged sword though. We are now a profitable club even taking into account the purchases we make and the wage bill. That has come through massive sponsorship deals and reaching out to a global audience. This does not sit comfortably with some but I would prefer our model rather then the massive debt model that united operate under it would be fabulous to see NFC in the champions league but to stay there it needs continuous investment.

    • Leazes Ender

      Don’t you yearn for the lady with the school bell?

      • DB

        With the big blonde Buffon… I miss her as much as I do the bananas

    • Gallowgate Dave

      I totally agree with you, I find this article cringeworthy. Whilst I would like to see Financial Fair Play rules strictly enforced in an ideal world, so a club’s success is more organic rather than dependent on rich backers like Abramovich, Mansour or QSI, I’m realistic enough to know the clubs with rich backers will find ways to circumvent the rules and can afford better lawyers than UEFA who also don’t want to risk bloodying rich owners noses too much for fear of a breakaway. Under Ashley the soul of our club couldn’t be in worse hands so we have the worst of both worlds now with a skinflint owner still hellbent on trampling on traditions (stadium name change, glorified loan shark advertising), mistreatment of popular club icons (Keegan, Shearer, Hughton and Jonas) and priortising money over sporting success (disgraceful cup record under Ashley’s tenure due to the prioritising of desperate aim to keep our snouts in the Premier League money trough).

      It’s only Rafa and some emerging talents with big hearts like Ritchie and Lascelles who give me any cause for optimism over our “soul”.

      You rightly cited some great examples of your own at City and it sounds like you’ve paid your dues and are now rightly enjoying the success, as would we! Don’t take this sanctimonious drivel this author has written as the general consensus.

  • gallowgate26

    When City actually win the champions league or at least get to the final, is when I’ll
    start to respect them. For the eye watering money they’ve spent (over £1billion) winning the PL title every 3 years is not very impressive in my humblest opinon! They can buy mercenaries, but what’s so impressive about that? Kyle Walker, he can’t even defend. Relatively poor teams like Juventus are kicking your backsides at the moment! They’ve gone from being likeable neighbours of Manyoo and the proper football fans in Manchester, to the rich bloke at the top of the street with the flash cars, that nobody likes anymore. I hope that never happens to us.

  • Leicester Mag

    I live in Leicester and work in North West. Don’t know of a single City fan who feels the way you suggest. Most followed them when in third division, not one is harking back with rose tinted glasses. By the reaction of City fans this article is a bit of an own goal. No one has done more to rip the soul out of our club than the present owner.

    • Guest 2

      Spot on mate.

      Can’t remember anyone complaining of a ‘lost soul’ when a Colombian scored a hat trick against Barca for us, in a team which fielded only one home grown player (Watson).

  • Steve Smith

    City supporters are still city supporters. Chelsea supporters are still racists. The money hasn’t changed either. All it’s changed is the number of additional fans that follow them on the tv.

    • Albert Stubbins

      Possibly the biggest sweeping statement of the decade.

  • Mayor Vaughn

    I couldn’t give a toss about the club losing it’s identity, we’ve been mostly losing my entire life.
    I’d give it all up to see Newcastle have a fraction the success or accolades that Man city or Chelsea have had, wouldn’t think twice.
    Sanctimonious clap trap.

    • Guest 2

      Aye, who would want a horrible ‘mercenary’ like Aguero in their side ;-)

      • Albert Stubbins

        Me! We’ve had mercenaries in the side for over twenty five years. I can name twenty off the top of my head FFS.

  • StavrosB

    Typical. No wonder people think we’re mad. I bet you’d twist on 21🙄

  • steve pearce

    Excellent!

    This is exactly what I have been thinking. But Newcastle is so different from Chelsea and Man City in that it is the sole club in our city, is the heart and soul of our region and the players all buy into this and play together as a team for their club and not for the money they make before they get bored and break their contracts to move elsewhere. Rafa would never sign or tolerate such shallow mercenaries and we fans would not welcome them. With unlimited funds he WILL build a team to have a fraction of the success and accolades that Chelsea or Man City have had, but that will be with a team who plays for the club, their manager and their fans.

    • Dillon Tovak

      Ba, Remy, Cabaye, Debuchy, to name but a few. We fans do welcome douchey player, just like at any club.

    • Rich Lawson

      Exactly as it should be,invest,but don’t price out the people who are the heart of this club for the blokes in the boxes,and buy players who are in for the long run,not just stepping up the shop window.

      • Guest 2

        Every pro is in the shop window. They want country honours as well as trophies coming from playing for the top teams.
        Is that wrong? I don’t think so.

  • Mag_Ladd

    Continue at mediocrity or have a go at rubbing shoulders with the top of division like Man City and Chelsea. Easy decision to make tbh, I’m sure Manc City and Chelsea fans are 100x happier now than before they had money. I’d actually like us try and win something before I die

    • Guest 2

      Roll on is what I say. Kick out the cheap student seats and ‘saturday shoppers’ and get back to people who will actually support the club rather than having a day out.
      If a sale brings that then it does the club a favour.

      • Mag_Ladd

        I couldn’t care less who attends our matches as long as they support Newcastle, create an atmosphere, get behind the team and fill out the stadium. The more fans we have, the bigger we become, the more money we have and creates a better economy in Newcastle which is good for the people of our city.

      • Albert Stubbins

        The cheap student seats don’t exist. Work younguns is a student and both of our tickets together are nearly eight hundred Pund!!

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Try paying two thousand pounds for a season ticket at Arsenal which is an average price Liverpool nearly a thousand Chelsea Tottenham dear to if Newcastle charged these prices no one would go. The best thing Mike Ashley has done is make it affordable for us to go otherwise most could not afford to go.

    • Guest 2

      Try charging a grand a season to watch the [email protected] he has served up for a decade.

      • Oooh bobbi fleckman

        A think you need to look across the board, overall, our prices are very reasonable and have been so since our first relegation.

      • Geordiegiants

        He is filling the top of the stands with £50 kids season tickets. I detest the man, but our tickets are cheap.

        • Guest 2

          Club website says cheapest under 18 is 78 quid, but in the family area. Otherwise, 158, 197, 256 – for Cat 3, 2, 1 seats.
          Premium seats for U18’s range from 359 to 461.

          • Geordiegiants

            My mate has bought an extra one for £52 this season.

          • Geordiegiants

            I could be wrong, it’s just been when we have spoke, I haven’t seen it on paper or in black and white, I could of simply been mistaken.

          • Guest 2

            The club website says you’re wrong too. That’s what happens when you listen to an U18.

        • Albert Stubbins

          You still have to be with an adult who’s paying over six times that amount mate. I was up there last season.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        You will find most Arsenal fans will pay in excess of fifteen hundred pounds and most Newcastle fans pay in excess of five hundred pounds. For a category A game of which there are many it’s between sixty seven pounds and ninety seven. Man City and West Ham have brought there ticket prices down to try and fill the stadium.

        • Guest 2

          “Most”? Well then the ‘average’ as you claimed cannot be over 2 grand can it?
          Can equally be said Ashley has made cheaper tickets available to make up for the loss of thousands of supporters who stopped going because of him.
          Make them cheap and stack them high – it’s his business model after all.

          • Monkseaton Magpies

            Since Ashley has taken over our average crowd has been forty nine thousand six hundred over ten and half seasons.
            When the other owners were in charge late seventies early eighties was twenty three thousand.

          • Guest 2

            Ashley inherited an almost 53 thousand seat stadium when he bought the club. Some ‘other owners’ (H&S) ensured the size it is now.

            Hasn’t stopped fatty deciding to develop the available (club owned) Gallowgate land for his own profit though, has it?

            You seem to have forgotten the ground development (late 70’s to ’93) completely in your ignorant opinions.

            You’re nowt but an Ashley hoop licking toe rag which we all know, so stop trying to argue anything else..

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            The gallowgate car park land was bought by the club in 2006 and sold in 2009 for a sizable profit. It was never going to expand the stadium.

          • Albert Stubbins

            Correct. You can’t compare football in 70′ s to now. Boro used to get 5k free. Completely different game and product. Ashley is squeezing every penny that he knows people in this area can afford. It’s market forces and her body knows the market better than him!!

  • Paul Patterson

    Until the tv money bubble bursts, it’s a case of if you can’t beat them, join them. Either that or we stay mid table at best..

    • Guest 2

      Exactly. What’s the complaint here? Whinge because Ashley won’t provide the funds to buy better players – then complain that better players are just ‘mercenaries’?

      Nee wonder we get called deluded.

  • TheNutJob

    I want Nufc to win something no matter what the cost, we are a different breed up here & we will never lose our identity

  • Oooh bobbi fleckman

    I know a few city fans who have made the exact same point as the author, I do think we are running before we can walk here.

    A takeover does not automatically mean mega spending. More likely to to be a refined version of what we already have..

  • Doug Dacre

    Wembley of the North in Leazes Park would be just lovely with a 90000 capacity, and £1bn transfer kitty.
    Also the people, when we were 6th and shouting for Sir Bobby to be sacked have very short memories….