If any of you are still wondering why Mike Ashley bought Newcastle United…
The FA Cup on Saturday sees Newcastle United facing the third round whilst deep in yet another relegation battle, NUFC guaranteed to play a reserve team, Rafa Benitez admitting it is an unnecessary distraction to managing a Premier League struggle with such limited resources, against not so glamorous League Two opposition…and yet it will draw one of the biggest attendances of the round.
Plus of course, this will happen despite the Newcastle fans hating Mike Ashley and begrudging every single penny they give to him.
Are you still wondering why he chose Newcastle United to advertise/promote his retail empire around the world?
As well as being one of the biggest crowds of the FA Cup third round, this will also be the biggest ever FA Cup attendance at St James Park under Mike Ashley.
This is the 11th year of the Mike Ashley era/occupation, where Newcastle United have won just four FA Cup matches in that entire time.
The gate on Saturday will of course be helped by Luton Town, who will be bringing over seven and a half thousand fans to Tyneside, Once again showing the pulling power of Newcastle United, plus the fact that Luton fans are buoyant with their team top of the table and set to cruise back up into League One.
However, just look at how many tickets Newcastle fans have bought despite so little encouragement given by their club to do so.
No figures released by the club but having monitored the sales online via the club’s ticket website showing which seats are still on sale at St James Park , the sales are astonishing.
Luton Town have the usual 3,000 Level 7 seats towards the East Stand side of the Leazes End but clearly they must have been given the extra near five thousand seats also up in Level 7, so spreading around to above the lower Milburn Stand areas.
Today is the last day where you can get tickets for £10 adults and £5 concessions, the prices doubling on matchday, so guaranteed a bit of a late rush to get tickets before close of business on Friday.
It looks very likely/certain that sometime today Newcastle United will start selling blocks up in Level 7, starting from the Gallowgate End of the Milburn no doubt.
By my loose figures I would say we are looking at least a crowd of around 45,000, which is remarkable taking everything into consideration.
The previous record under Mike Ashley was the 35,108 who turned up on 16 January 2008. That crowd was entirely down to Kevin Keegan.
In the dying days of the Sam Allardyce era, Fat Sam had subjected us to the most boring match yet. Going to Championship side Stoke City, it was all out defence and Newcastle somehow survived to end the game 0-0 and bring them back to St James Park for a third round replay.
Three days after that bore draw Allardyce was sacked on the 9 January 2008.
Everybody was depressed a week later with no replacement yet appointed and a dismal crowd expected for the replay. However, on the afternoon of that reply, rumours swept Tyneside that Kevin Keegan was going to be appointed, then it was confirmed, and from just that spark there was a massive additional walk up crowd on the night.
Arguably, the Keegan news put at least ten thousand on the gate, meaning 35,108 turned up to watch Newcastle smash Stoke 4-1, despite NUFC going down to 10 men in the first half, the Keegan effect!
Maybe not surprisingly, the second biggest FA Cup crowd in Ashley’s time, was the 34,896 who turned up a year ago due to the Rafa Benitez effect. Despite knowing the FA Cup was not a priority compared to promotion and that Rafa would play a reserve side, fans wanted to come and support the manager and team that he would put out.
So whilst we can’t be guaranteed a win on Saturday, at least there should be a little bit of a buzz as seven and a half thousand Luton supporters and up to forty thousand Newcastle fans come together, despite Mike Ashley.
FA Cup home matches played so far by Newcastle at St James Park under Mike Ashley:
34,896 Newcastle 3 Birmingham 1 – 18 January 2017 (Third round replay)
31,166 Newcastle 1 Cardiff 2 – 4 January 2014
30,876 Newcastle 2 Blackburn 1 – 7 January 2012
15,805 Newcastle 3 Plymouth 0 – 13 January 2010 (Third round replay)
31,380 Newcastle 0 Hull 1 – 13 January 2009 (Third round replay)
35,108 Newcastle 4 Stoke 1 – 16 January 2008 (Third round replay)
Newcastle v Luton Match Betting:
All Newcastle v Luton betting HERE
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