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Opinion

What should Newcastle United fans do to deal with Mike Ashley?

3 years ago
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I read an excerpt from a book written around 1958-1961, it talks about Newcastle United having a great ground in a great city centre location, its wonderful support drawing in crowds of 60,000 despite fighting relegation or playing in the second tier. Even when the region was experiencing mass unemployment NUFC still had 60,000 crowds.

It goes on to talk about the Geordie supporters’ loyalty and passion for football and about the Club being unique, in that it is a one Club city and the Club being very much part of local life.

The most poignant part of the piece is:

‘This club has a wonderful opportunity now, to reach out and grasp the greatness which escaped it so often and narrowly in the past. What is needed is for one man, with clear ideas, high principles and the strength of character to put them into practise, to be given the necessary authority. Then Newcastle United could really be a great club.’

That was written in reference to Charlie Mitten’s time in charge of team affairs nigh on 60 years ago, the recognised potential of the Club remains relatively untapped. Rafa has a lot of the traits listed in the piece, he just needs to be given the authority.

It sounds so straightforward doesn’t? I’m tired of hearing about the circus that is Newcastle United, a joke of a football club. When do we NUFC fans get the chance to talk about our Club in simple straightforward terms? Look at the teams around us in the league, do they have the same circus surrounding them?

I generally write for these pages once a month, I haven’t contributed an article since the takeover talk began. One reason is it would be difficult to write something that hadn’t already been written. There’s barely a day gone by that there hasn’t been something written about the takeover, there’s so much unknown about it the same conjecture has been repeated over and over again.

I realise that it is difficult not to fall into talking about the takeover and Ashley’s general running of the Club when talking about NUFC. The frustrations build up before the nostalgia kicks in and you find yourself getting all misty eyed talking about the good old days, it’s amazing how rose-tinted everything is in comparison with these days.

Sky Sports have their own agenda when it comes to NUFC too, which doesn’t help. I don’t think there’s enough ‘news’ to warrant a 24 hour news channel, some of the stuff I’ve seen on there looks like it’s been pulled together by school kids for a school project. Presenters feigning their excitement about sports they’re absolutely clueless about, its cringeworthy but for some it’s their chosen source for news.

I stopped believing anything written in the press and broadcast on Sky at face value a long time ago, as I found the truth often doesn’t fit their agendas. I get by, by not allowing myself to get carried away with stories released in the press, for every story about the takeover happening there’s another refutes it. Rafa’s leaving, Rafa’s staying etc etc. it’s a lot of hot air generated by people that are either guessing or have something to sell.

Every new article brings hysteria, deal off means losing Rafa and relegation down the leagues. Deal on, Rafa stays and we have a Man City like surge up the league in a trophy laden period for the Club.

I must admit some articles have more credibility than others, journalists such as George Caulkin are worth reading and I find NUFC dot com tend to comment on actual stories rather than speculation.

The speculation never seems to rest, like many others I’m tired of the merry-go-round of drivel spouted by the cronies on the telly, same message different mouthpiece. If you see quotes from Ashley and quotes from Staveley in the press, it’s worth remembering that one of those people have been taken to court and has been proven to be a liar.

I would love to see the anger on #NUFC twitter converted into some concerted action for change. We do ourselves no favours in embroiling ourselves in online spats amongst ourselves and other baiting twitter accounts, it’s the very fuel used against us.

We have an owner that quite clearly couldn’t care less about our football club, it is simply a vehicle for his own self-gain and gained he has, don’t let him fool you into thinking otherwise.

What do we do?

Boycott the games?

March on the ground?

Protest?

What can we do to be heard?

These are serious questions, do all NUFC fans agree that Ashley isn’t the right person to take the Club forward?

You’d be pretty hard pushed to say it’s been a success, unless you work for Sky that is.

Sky actually have footage of Ashley making promises about transfers etc. but they never take him to task when these promises aren’t seen through. Sky just run the stories they are told to by PR men, agents and the like. There’s no journalistic approach to anything that they spin out.

We find ourselves in a precarious position in the league, the lads on the pitch need our support.

I’m finding it more and more difficult to keep going to the ground and support the team with the negative backdrop presiding it. Would I jack it in if I thought it contributed to positive change? Yes, definitely. It’s getting to the point where it has become tiresome supporting the Club I have done since I was a boy.

It’s a far cry from when I start going in 1992, the Club has changed, football has changed, the utopian vision of the Premier League promised was a lie, it’s all about money and the vultures from outside football have been circling ever since. The TV companies run football now, do they care how a football club is run? How about the governing bodies? Maybe but they’re powerless and too set in their ways to do anything.

I take my nephew along to games, he’s 10 years old and has an opinion of the running of the Club. At that age my biggest concern about NUFC who in the first team were wearing Puma Kings, whether I going to get to sit on the concrete barriers in the Gallowgate End.

Sir John Hall? Kevin Keegan was the main man! He was allowed to do his job the 1st time round and I believe it was only when the Club became a PLC and he wasn’t able to do so anymore we lost our way.

I’ve tried to instil in my nephew that we’ll never turn our back on our team no matter what but my resolve is wearing thin. If I stop going to the match my nephew misses out, who am I to deny him supporting his team? Something I have actively encouraged since the day he was born. He has known nothing but Ashley’s running of the Club and taking young Kippa is one of the lessening number of reasons I keep going.

I could go on about how it could be if the Club was being steered in the right direction, I think we all have our own hopes and dreams about that. Having Rafa in charge keeps those hopes and dreams alive, but no one would blame him for walking away, I wouldn’t blame him (Rafa) if we do eventually get relegated this season, the buck stops at Ashley’s door.

Amanda Staveley and PCP offer a change, a way out of the shadows, but who are PCP? They could be the saviour we hope for, they could be worse than Ashley! But what’s the alternative? Carry on going along with asset-stripping, joyless existence our Club currently is? Rafa is totally hamstrung by the current ownership, he’s doing the best job he can with what he’s got but its showing now that’s there’s a ceiling to what can do under Ashley.

As fans why do we bother? Why should we bother if we’re just being taken the p… of? I’m increasingly disillusioned by it all, I find it harder and harder to even involve myself in conversations about NUFC, it’s depressing. There’s more questions than answers at the moment but sadly that’s been the case for over 10 years now. We are exhausted, frustrated, and running out of patience.

The ship for Ashley to make amends sailed long ago, but whether he sees his long-term future at NUFC or not, he needs to pull his finger out and make sure the team is at least OK in the short-term, otherwise any chance of him getting his desired £350m will go a begging, anyone can see that!

There’s been great highs watching NUFC over the years and plenty of lows, some difficult to swallow, which is part and parcel of following a football team but the prospect of Ashley casting his shadow over NUFC for another 10 years doesn’t bear thinking about.

Howay Mr Ashley, you’ve had your turn, you’ve got plenty out of it, time to move on, time for change. Give us the opportunity now, to reach out and grasp the greatness which escaped our Club so often and narrowly in the past.

Howay me bonny lads!!!

You can follow the author on Twitter @lyon1892
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