Newcastle United are flying the flag for the region.

Once known as the ‘hotbed’ of football, the North East is looking more of a wasteland.

Middlesbrough have had a proper go financially at bouncing straight back to the Premier League but are nowhere near automatic promotion, they are currently just about clinging onto a play-off spot. However, if they don’t go up this time then the finances will bite and they could be struggling.

Speaking of struggling, Sunderland are in freefall and League One looks a certainty.

Whilst beyond that, difficult to believe that not so long ago, both Darlington and Hartlepool have been in the third tier, now the pair of them appear doomed to non-league for the foreseeable.

Any football infrastructure in the region has crumbled and really everything points to Newcastle standing alone, IF relegation can be avoided and Rafa Benitez sees potential in staying on Tyneside.

In the case of Hartlepool and Darlington, plus Gateshead showing no signs of competing for promotion to League Two, it also means there are no local sides at a competitive level to loan out promising players to.

As for this season in the Premier League, the fact that Newcastle’s eleventh closest away trip is Wembley (544 miles round trip) to play Spurs (when they finally confirm the date…), tells you everything.

It appears to be not just a North East thing but a definite drift from the North overall to the South. Yorkshire is now desolate when it comes to Premier League football, with the likes of Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Barnsley and Bradford all having once been top tier teams in the Premier League era – but no longer.

Hull bucked the trend as a bit of a yoyo club with initial overseas investment helping them compete but they are surely going only one way now.

It is only really the North West big quartet in Manchester and Liverpool that you can count on in the top flight.

Huddersfield and Burnley are giving it a decent go but they stand out, the only two away trips before you get as far as Manchester.

The signs from below aren’t good either, with Wolves (407 miles round trip) and Cardiff (631 miles round trip) looking nailed on for promotion.

Is it a case of rich ambitious potential owners not seeing the benefits in investing the further North you go, with the exception of that North West quartet?

Bournemouth attracted a rich overseas investor and are outspending Newcastle United, they even happily paid a fine for breaking spending rules when getting promotion from the Championship.

Does this failure from overseas (where any likely buyer of Newcastle is almost certain to come from) to generally see clubs further North as attractive targets, then extend to Newcastle United? A club which we would all see as a special case no matter what surrounds us.

There is a fascination around the country and beyond for Newcastle United, a club that gets relegated and then averages over 51,000 every week.

We stand alone in many ways, both in terms of geography but especially in terms of potential, still waiting to be unleashed.

  • ghostrider

    As biased as I am and as much as I, like many others like to ride on the nostalgia bus as well as the sporadic worldwide hype on the hotbed of football and what not, I have to concede that the history of what the game was and the sleeping giant that was Newcastle United, is exactly that.

    Football has changed. It’s been sold, lock stock and barrel to the devil.
    The fan loyalty is still here because the club is not doing as bad as is being made out, as it stands in this world of football that is now run by the devil and it’s disciples, hypothetically speaking of course.

    Newcastle United is a special club to Newcastle United fans and many of those that had some kind of allegiance to it in a variety of ways.
    It’s a club that many fans of other clubs would love to be associated with in terms of having their own club running in the same vein, taking out the obvious elites and those clubs run by less than above board means.

    Don;t think for one minute that this club will not suffer a melt down of Sunderland proportions if things didn’t run smoothly.
    It’s the very fact that we’ve done so well that is the reason why the ground is almost full in every game.

    It doesn’t matter whether we were relegated because we came back up as champions and coming back up as champions means we win the lions share of games, which puts bums on seats, as well as season ticket price freezes to go along side with it.

    Premier league struggle is an acceptance with hope rather than a hindrance with none.
    One city and one club is one thing but one big city and one club is the sole reason we fill the stadium, regardless of just a semblance of success.

    If Newcastle was half the size we would average 30 to 40,000 with success but probably 10,000 without anything more than what Sunderland and many other teams provide.

    We would be on par with Sunderland in terms of crowds if we nosedived like Sunderland are at the moment. Seriously we would and nobody should be under any illusions about that whether Ashley owns us or Geordie Mack the local Newcastle United loving big local business bloke of the city.

    As long as there’s hope the crowds will be there.
    This club is special to us fans. It’ll always be special to me even if we played in the lowest league there is in England, as long as the club is the same club that I’ve spent almost my entire life being a fan/supporter of,

    Make no mistake. The north east is in a fight with the south for the privilege of just being able to stand out on it’s own…and whilst banter and rivalry is good in many cases in terms of the football clubs within the north east, it should never be forgotten that we are still one large area of like minded people when the colours are in the drawer.

    The potential that’s still waiting to be unleashed with this club will never be realised in a fair trade off…ever.
    Man City and co with their Sheikh’s and oil tycoons have seen to that…plus the supposed football people at the top ensuring that football club potentials from their own steam….in house steam generation, counts for little.

    Money talks and small clubs can become massive clubs with small audience if the money people are constantly prepared to pay and are allowed to.

    Let’s put it into simple perspective from in house running and without influence of sugar daddy pockets.and a fair world of football based on “potential”…then we would be likely not a sleeping giant but a giant in our own right alongside Sunderland who would also claim that right.

    • Tomb

      Agreed before Special K arrived as manager the crowds were regularly as low as 15000 as there was no sign of the club going anywhere, ever and hadnt been for a long time. Now there have been some moments of minor success in the last 20 years and the fact that just being in the Premier league can be viewed as being successful now

      • Jezza

        We had a few low crowds before Keegan but that was as a result of organised boycotts. Our crowds were never that low on a regular basis. We were always one of the best supported clubs in the country with crowds consistently above the national average.

        • Mark Potter

          You have a very short memory, or it’s more lies?

          The club set a world record as the first ever club to attract one million attendances for league games during a season, in 1946-47, and then the first to average over 50,000 per league game in 1947-48.

          But over the next 35 years the trend was consistently downwards. By the early 1980s AVERAGE attendance in two season was under 20,000. Was there an organised boycott lasting two years? The following season it jumped back to near 30,000, before dropping back consistently to under 20,000 again. There were about 14 or 15 seasons in a row with attendances below 30,000.

          Following Keegan’s success in his first full season as manager, attendances jumped up to close to maximum, with the size of the stadium being the limiting factor. So by the late 90s the club have again (first time in 45 years) averaged over 50,000. Only the first relegation season it dropped below that. Last season in the Championship Newcastle set its second world record, being the first club in a second tier league to achieve the 1 million attendances/50,000 average.

          There wasn’t organised boycotts for over 10 years. The terraces belonged to hooligans, the ground was awful, the football worse. People didn’t want to go. You can’t rewrite history to pretend that the club was well supported during the 1980s. It wasn’t.

          A combination of getting results, charismatic leadership, the redevelopment of the stadium, the introduction of the Prem League, and kicking the hooligans out of football grounds, brought the crowds back.

          • Mark Potter

            And let’s not forget, just because I know it riles you so much, that second record was set during the Ashley era. And average attendances throughout his tenure must be around 50,000. 25,000 higher than what you believe was some golden era. Despite your calls for protests and boycotts, statistically it is 100% clear that they have had no effect. Average attendances remain one of the highest in the world. That may be despite him, rather than because of him. But the people of the North East aren’t listening to you, despite what your echo chamber of the Mag would suggest.

      • Jonas

        In a different time in the second division when only Man U and Liverpool in the top got over 30000 regularly and Villa were getting 22000 whilst top of the league in April and 15000 was a decent gate for most 1st division teams and all 2nd.
        you’re not wrong but the context needs mentioned.

      • Leazes.

        … in a stadium which was absolutely open to the elements on top of a hill, with strong north-easterly winds, a crumbling stadium, populated by thugs, and in the second tier, directionless, with a bunch of kids for a squad…… and we still got more than Chelsea!

  • Rich Lawson

    Just need a half way decent owner with a few quid to invest,sounds simple doesn’t it ? As far as loaning out players in the region,Keith Curle is doing a pretty good job with a late play off run on limited funds and a small fan base at Carlisle,be nice if we gave him a couple of promising youngsters next season ?

  • Wor Monga

    To put it bluntly there’s only one thing that stands between the NUFC and the nightmare scenario that you’ve rolled out there, and that is Rafael Benitez Maudes…if he’d walked after selling our ‘big time’ players, on relegation, and also clearing the remaining dead-wood, we’d have been where the Mackems are now heading…into the football cellar of obscurity…

    …no other person would have been able, to come in cold and then bring in players, like he did back then…players who could buy totally into his plan and see a positive future mapped out for them and only a season away…

    …without any knowledge of what the Championship would throw up…even though most clubs that have yo-yo’ed have kept the bulk of their squads together without selling all their ‘best’ players, and most have players that know the lower league from long experience of it anyway…

    …It’s fair to say that if we were to lose the one factor that has took us back into the PL…then we should be warned…that no matter how big our fan base is it must only be a matter of time before we would be sucked into the void that has claimed all of our other Northern neighbours, and next time there might be no happy returns!!!

    • Tomb

      I agree that keeping Rafa was crucial but Hughton did an equally good job when morale was arguably worse at the club. I think we would be looking at a villa scenario more than a Sunlun one if Rafa had gone

      • Jezza

        Without taking anything away from Chris Hughton it has to be said that when he got us promoted we two of the very best players in the country in our Championship team. Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan would have walked into the starting eleven of all but the very top Premiership teams that season.

        • Mark Potter

          Not true at all. Andy Carroll was still a relative unknown, who had yet to prove himself. He was sent out on loan by Allerdyce and played for Preston North End, bigger clubs weren’t queuing up to take him. He scored only 1 goal for PNE in 12 appearances. They didn’t continue the loan second half of the season. In the intervening period before the club was relegated, he made 22 appearances, scoring only 3 goals. This included 14 Prem League appearances during the relegation season. His lack of contribution is a minor note in history, where enemy number 1 was Owen, Viduka and Martins

  • Peter

    Football power in this country is increasingly concentrated in two areas; London and the North-west – albeit with the caveat that we shouldn’t forget what Leicester City did two years ago… but couldn’t maintain.

    I think the one club outside of those two small areas, which could break into the elite is Newcastle United. Both the city and the club have enough about them. But it certainly won’t happen until Ashley sells up…