Summer is coming and with it yet another period of uncertainty for Newcastle fans.

Will Mike Ashley sell?

Will Rafa Benitez stay?

What will the budget be?

We’ve been here before. Several times in fact. The important thing to remember in all of this is that most of what you see on Twitter, in the papers, online, is speculation. Nobody knows what’s going to happen, but it sells papers, feeds clicks, increases Retweets if you pretend you do.

How many of us have clicked the link that says we’re signing a £20m player, or Rafa has a war chest this season. Guess work, all of it.

So how do we try and work out what’s really going on.

People say you can’t predict Mike Ashley, but I would counter that, you can.

I would counter that he is remarkably predictable on the things that matter to him and what matters is that NUFC continue to generate a profile for Sports Direct. Ashley needs NUFC to be visible, to be in the Premier League, for fans to buy kits he supplies. The club is his biggest customer. None of the rest matters. He is only interested in ensuring that the 40,000 people who had season tickets this season come back and spend money next year.

40,000! What a number, what a power base. Over 100,000 people recently told the government they wanted a debate on safe standing and succeeded. Imagine if 40,000 season ticket holders (76% of ticket holders) held Ashley to account. But more of that later.

So Ashley wants us back, and the way he does that, is feeding positive news stories to the media. We’ve seen it already.

On 26 April 2018 Lee Ryder wrote a story headlined ‘Newcastle United preparing to hand Rafa Benitez licence to spend’ – see it here.

But here’s the thing.

On 21 May 2017 Lee Ryder wrote a story headlined ‘Newcastle United eyeing proven centre-forward…’ – see it here.

On 31 May 2017 we wanted ‘five or six new players through the door before July 3.’ – see it here.

We all know what happened. A summer of scraping deals together, compromising on targets and broken promises. Now I don’t believe Lee is making this stuff up. His “sources” at the club are feeding this and he is reporting it. In doing so Ashley feeds our hope. Hope of success, hope of ambition. Hope and ambition sell season tickets.

Over the next few weeks we will see story after story of hope, of contracts, signings, takeovers. Then we’ll hit 40,000 season ticket holders. Money in the bank. Then it will turn to stories of frustration, of signings taking too long. By then we’re all locked in and the cycle begins again. Although probably without Rafa.

So what can be done. Well this summer Ashley is in an unusual position of having to negotiate Rafa’s contract. One year to go. The mantra goes ‘In Rafa We Trust’ and I believe in that. What’s good enough for Rafa is good enough for me. So perhaps this summer’s mantra when the season ticket renewal lands on the door step should be…

‘I sign when Rafa signs.’

People can hold Ashley to account. We all love being season ticket holders and going to the match. It will take bravery and brinkmanship but I guarantee if season ticket renewals are down with a week to the deadline the power will have shifted and we can remind Mike Ashley of why we matter so much.

Ignore takeovers, rumours of Andy Carroll and transfer war chests. The only thing you can control is whether to renew your season ticket and I’ll sign when Rafa signs.

#isignwhenrafasigns

You can follow the author on Twitter @alanofthenorth

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  • Atilla McNamee

    Great article – spot on!

  • Weyhhadaway

    Money is the key, don’t buy at his tat shop either.

  • Paul Patterson

    If Rafa was confident that he could build a squad on £30m, then I’d be happy. Sadly, that’s not 2018 Premier League football. Being tight this summer simply won’t do. If Rafa signs his contract, he will have a budget he will be happy with, unless promises are broken again. Until then . .
    #isignwhenrafasigns

  • Come&TakeIt1836

    I agree with this being the litmus test if someone wants one. I doubt very much we ever hear what the transfer budget is. I hope we do not as that would be bad business. The club’s public message should be we are broke so other club’s making deals with us think they are getting our last penny.

    • Georgia Peter

      Porciestreet.
      Agree totally, but where do you find a billionaire that is “broke”.?

      • Guest 2

        Multi billionaire actually ;-)

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Ive posted this before I decided this months ago. I wont be renewing until Ashley finally supports the club or he leaves. Ashley is a compulsive chancing liar. Im sick of him taking newcastle fans for mugs. If he drives Rafa out no one will be able to help him as it will be chaos and fans will finally leave him in the lurch. Sadly I think it will come to that and we will lose Rafa because our owner cant help himself.

    • Quinny

      Ashley been here 10 years and you wait until now to say you won’t be renewing. Give your head a shake. I bet you were one if the few who booed at the final whistle last week against wba. Hopefully you won’t renew your ticket.

      • Toonrobbybobson

        I have never in my life booed my team. I have travelled both nationwide and abroad supporting my team. So you can hopefully get off your high horse. I have supported my team the best way I thought possible but until Ashley changes his policy to support the club to be progressive or leaves I don’t see anything changing very much like Groundhog day. I have done various things throughout Ashleys regime but until a collective effort is made nothing will change.

        End of day if he does not support Rafa to build this club up from strong foundations he will be off. Once again it will all come crashing down like a pack of cards but will be carried by those on direct debits. He suckered so many with that one. While many are over the moon about us staying up we are quite frankly at the biggest crossroads this club has had. Ashley cannot help himself. We will go into the abyss because we will never be able to catch up.

        But contrary to all the talk he won’t sell. It is a cash cow which has just rewarded him. The TV money means he has only paid his initial purchase price for the club.

    • FatParosite

      I’d like to think fans would leave if Rafa goes but they are so used to eating Ashley’s excrement they don’t know what good food tastes like and will still go with their feeding bowls. See above.

  • Leazes.

    Nice one

  • nufcslf

    Great article and hope every season ticket holder is on board. I personally wouldn’t be caught dead in Sports Direct Shythole, easy for me to say living thousands of miles away in Vancouver, but mean every word of it and will stand by it until the fat [email protected] leaves. Holiday’s will be hell not going to see a match, but f**k him as I have done with not buying anything from the online club shop for 10 years now. Not getting a penny from me.

    • Georgia Peter

      It’s not easy to help as an ex-pat .there’s no Sports Defect here in Greece so it won’t be coming from me.
      Sadly, we all know the sheep will be knocking down the ticket office as soon as dates are released but one can only hope.
      I’m 69 this year and my only hope is that he’s gone b4 I drift away. Sad isn’t it but that’s what this dastard has reduced us to.

  • mactoon

    So what’s the deadline for season ticket renewals for next season ?

    • Georgia Peter

      Porciestreet.
      Follow @isignwhenfafasigns

    • mactoon

      what’s the deadline for season ticket renewals for next season ?

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Forlorn hope regarding ticket holders,
    my cousin still has one, we always met up and had a day out every match. mine went in the bin years ago.
    do i miss going, to right i do but i made a promise, as long as the Pigs there, then Michael isn`t.
    Ashley & his motley crew are no more than Pond life & morally bankrupt who bring misery to everyone they come in contact with.
    If Rafa does leave then rest assured all hope goes with him.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Watched Liverpool last nigh & what a game it was,
    turn the clock to the Keegan era where he tried to win things by playing attacking football, well we have 2 teams that are now proving the point Man City & Liverpool.
    let`s hope other managers follow suit & the likes of Hippo Heed, Spewlis, & the rest of the Dinosaurs are consigned to history.

    • Leazes.

      I knew it reminded me of something, football….thats it! Mind you Liverpool have become a cup fighting side again they’re very good at knock out competitions and always were disciplined and well martialed for the tricks unlike Craig Bellamy and Kieron Dyer.

    • Guest 2

      Said the same thing myself yesterday. Not a critic to be found or heard just now of this winning attacking football!

  • ghostrider

    By all means renew your season ticket or go back to Newcastle when Rafa signs a new deal but don’t call yourself a thick and thin supporter of Newcastle United. Call yourself a thick and thin supporter of Rafa Benitez who has absolutely no history with Newcastle United other than his initial contract.

    Rafa has a year left on his contract. No big deal to sign anything as of yet.
    If he does sign for a few years extra then fair enough but he has another season to see what he can do.

    He’s got us to 10th on a championship squad (apparently) so next season that squad isn’t a championship squad, it’s a top 10 squad which can get better under his guidance (can’t it?) plus a few extra players added into the mix and a few discarded.

    He doesn’t need a kings ransom to edge forward. It hasn’t suddenly turned into a race for the title.

    All those that refuse to renew, you carry on…it’s entirely your prerogative….but if you do stay away your seats will be taken by those that are unconditional.

    • Georgia Peter

      Porciestreet .
      And there’s the rub…! Sheep to the slaughter.
      ..

      • ghostrider

        We’re all sheep to the slaughter mate. It’s just a case of what why and how in any given situation we all walk that path to it.

        One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

        • Georgia Peter

          Porciestreet.
          Well you walk that walk if you must but ill stay content watching the lads Every week on an illegal Chanel.
          It’s all I can do to protest.

          • ghostrider

            You’re not protesting. You’re simply watching your team by whatever means other than being inside the stadium.
            Nobody inside that stadium is thinking about you. They’re watching the game.

          • Georgia Peter

            Porciestreet.
            As long as I can watch the team I have followed since my 7th birthday, I’m not fussed if anyone gives a 5hyte.

          • ghostrider

            Good, because that’s all you need to worry about. Basically you’re a Newcastle fan/supporter from being a kid, like many, including myself.
            All you really need to worry about is having a club, not the decorations within it, which are either a arguing hindrance or a pleasant addition.

            What you don’t do is try to demand T-bone steak when you’re not regularly used to having it but are willing to throw away your original meal of egg chips and beans with 2 slices of well buttered bread and a cup of nice sweet tea and go on hunger strike until it’s placed before you.

          • TheFatController

            Maybe not renewing, whilst not impacting on Ashley, may free up the match day experience to be more enjoyable for those that sit around you ?

          • ghostrider

            I don’t think they really care that much. I’ve had moaners around me for years and I’ve done a bit myself but it still doesn’t stop me from enjoying the entire match day experience, overall.
            I might want to punch myself in the face in frustration at having watched some dire football at times but it’s the good the bad and the ugly of being a football fan.
            No manager or owner, etc, is going to change my stance on what I want to do, good bad or ugly.

          • Guest 2

            The 90% silent sheep, students, or nowhere else to go ‘fans’ you mean?

          • Georgia Peter

            Porciestreet.
            Sadly, I have no means to protest or I would in some form or other. Probably just as well as I’m liable to do something stupid.
            I have been very close to both the club and players in the past which I will not go into here, but close enough to be pained by the demise of our great club thanx to fatty’s regime.
            The great day can’t come soon enough for me.

            ASHLEY OUT !!!

          • ghostrider

            I have a question for you and I’d appreciate it if you would answer it with 100% honesty, without sugarcoating anything.

            You want Ashley out….fine.
            However, the question is: If Ashley gave you your dream choice and left and the new owners came in and done an Ellis Short within 5 years, as an instance; would you still be happy you got rid of Ashley, even if Newcastle ended up like Sunderland?

          • Georgia Peter

            porciestreet.
            yes i would, whatever the outcome because nothing will alter without change.
            Sadly modern football is all
            about megabucks and theres a good chance that someone of similar ilk will be next through the door.
            What City have will never occur again.
            So yes , Ashley out.

          • ghostrider

            Let’s hope your wish of Ashley out doesn’t end up with egg on the face , regardless of a stance of not minding cutting off your nose to spite your face.

      • Brian Standen

        Exactly. Come rain , wind or shine I will renew , if people who don’t go don’t like it , not my problem!

        • FatParosite

          Baaaaaaa

          • Brian Standen

            You must be a ‘ keegan bandwagon jumper’.

          • FatParosite

            I thought you didn’t slag anyone off….??

          • Brian Standen

            I don’t see that as slagging anyone off – it was an assumption!
            Look it’s a fact NUFC gained a lot of fans under KK in the 90s and SBR a little later, and I can understand why people bought up on that would now not want to go because of Ashley!
            But I was bought up in a different era but with same hopeless board and owners!
            But I didn’t stop going then

          • Brian Standen

            And another one hiding behind a keyboard

        • TheFatController

          You don’t sound like a man who has confidence in his convictions.

          You sound like a weak man unable to take a stand for what is right and hiding behind ‘by not standing up to Ashley I prove how much I love the club by still going’.

          If this was the civil rights movement, you’d be an ‘Uncle Tom’

          • Brian Standen

            Weak man? I don’t hide behind an alias like a lot on here!
            I also don’t chuck insults about.
            Ashley is just another tosser of an owner/chairman, been plenty over the years, but he is not gonna stop me going!
            By the way people who make stands usually have the courage of their convictions by not hiding behind a keyboard using a false name!

  • Brian Standen

    I wonder how those who don’t renew will feel if on the off chance NUFC do become successful, fans forum notes has already stated no plans for increased capacity,
    Success will bring a clamour for tickets and some will miss out, mind they can always enjoy the experience on the illegal channels!
    Ok I admit chance of success is slim but stranger things have happened!

    • FatParosite

      That is the kind of moronic BS tarted up as hope that Ashley peddles. It is unquestionably stupid.

      • Brian Standen

        Do you think I give a toss about people responding with stupid nicknames. I been going since 1970 and was bought up on the fact that NUFC fans were renowned for loyalty. I got no problem with people who don’t go but just don’t whinge if NUFC become good again

        • FatParosite

          I have been going since 1970… so what? They have zero chance of becoming good under Ashley…. end of story. When he’s gone… I’ll go back.

          • Brian Standen

            If you can get in!

          • FatParosite

            Meh

          • NUFCLX

            Another fan who will go back when we get a good owner. Again, which previous good owner made u want to go to games ?

    • TheFatController

      just when I think the internet won’t bring us into contact with anything more weird than Donald Trump on twitter, along you come with that post.

      Remarkable effort. You should be proud.

      • Brian Standen

        See below for my thoughts on your reply

        • TheFatController

          I just don’t like the way you belittle the many people who make the sacrifice of enjoying matchday to tell mike Ashley he can’t take our money for granted.

          You think you’re somehow more loyal by turning up and making no sacrifice. Nothing like inflated self opinions eh?

          • FatParosite

            It is atypical of self aggrandising moral minority to be sanctimonious with almost no evidence of their superiority. However these sanctimonious fans like the battered wife who thinks her ‘loving’ husband will change yet still get battered. It is pathetic to watch. Unfortunately these battered wives have the money to support their errant abusers and won’t take action to bring them to book.

          • Brian Standen

            I choose to go to the match simple as that , I admit my match going mates numbers have dwindled over the years but its about choosing!
            What I don’t do is slag people off who don’t go, I also respect everyone’s opinion!

          • Brian Standen

            I don’t belittle anyone, everyone is entitled to an opinion! Am I more loyal? Not at all! But I was bought up on going to the match!
            I didn’t come along cos KK came, I had already been through the Westwood years who was just as bad as Ashley!
            NUFC will always just be NUFC, it’s anyones choice if they go or don’t!
            Apologies if it came across as belittling!

    • NUFCLX

      Support the team not the regime. I often wonder, under which successful owner did all the boycott merchants go to games.
      I pray for the day Fatman leaves but looking back over the last 50 years I can only think of a couple of years under the Halls where we had decent owners and that went pear shaped when they tried to float the club and ended up lumbering us with Fatman.

      • Brian Standen

        Exactly. This club not really been successful for 63 years domestically- sure we flirted but still won nowt

      • Georgia Peter

        Porciestreet.
        Being “lumbered” with the fat one was a carefully conceived and we’ll structured deal, don’t you worry about that.
        Halls took all they could from the club and knew full well what we were being “lumbered” with.

    • Leazes.

      Sorry someone is trying to stop this comment to Brian Standen…. I tried posting here again….and again.

      ‘Slim’?… this is a story from Ryder doing a sales pitch for Ashley.

      Ashley has said no signings, Benitez is talking loans, meanwhile in the ambitious world our competitors will outspend us because Ashley and Charnley have a ‘mental ceiling’ and wont pay above it…. it seems to be below our record transfer of some 20 odd years ago!

      Fans will say…’eeeh mind he might be going to do spend’…. he wont spend to position us in a challenging position he still doesn’t want European football…. Charnleys bonus scheme is still in place and that determines the squad size and value as there is a moratorium on purchases. If Benitez signs up to this nonsense he’ll get diddly squat except a large pay-off for services rendered to Ashley.

      If a sale happens he’s raised the value of the club artificially, if it doesn’t he’s still got the fifteenth most valuable squad and the fans are stuck with ,more struggle…. its not all doom and gloom…. we can still wave our flags and ‘support the team, not the regime’,

      Ryder and Baloney are a married couple!

      • Brian Standen

        But Leazes you still go! This I know

        • Leazes.

          I’m a season ticket holder and a member…. yes…. I was taken in by the Rafalution and came back.

          • Brian Standen

            No. You been going since late 60s.

          • Leazes.

            Yes…..so

          • Brian Standen

            We sing from the same hymn sheet!

          • Leazes.

            I’m an atheist… and humanist and I cant sing so I’ve been told.

          • Mark Davies

            Hang on….Just to clarify this, you are one of us sheep, ashleyites and whatever else you call us? Also, your own calls to boycott actually mean your telling yourself to do that…but you dont???? Im actually stunned by this revelation about you going after all you preach!

          • Brian Standen

            Hypocrisy at its finest!

          • Leazes.

            A boycott is only useful if it makes a difference, it has to be substantial, Ashley filled the walk away with 6000 seats at £68 a season kids seats ….almost free….I had chucked the ticket for 9 of Ashleys 11 years, I came back hoping the corner had been turned…. it hasn’t!…. its the same sh*te!

          • Mark Davies

            Well it certainly is based on previous posts if he does actually go.

          • Brian Standen

            He 100% does plus don’t be taken in by the fact says he only recently went back, he never stopped going!

          • Mark Davies

            Then oh how I wait in anticipation for his next rant about ashley apologists and the happy clappers propping up ashleys empire. Fifty faced fool!

          • Leazes.

            There’s no contradiction, if there was I’d severely reprimand myself.

  • kingfisher

    To some, Ashley is the Pied Piper.It doesn’t matter what tune he plays, they will always follow him.
    IF Rafa leaves,and Ashley is still the owner come the new season, and we havn’t signed anyone decent,why would anyone want to go to sjp? but guess what? the Piper will play his tune and they will turn up once again.As Georgia says below, lambs to the slaughter 🐑🐏

  • Mike

    If it all goes pear shaped and i want to cancel a direct debit for S tickets wots the crack / deadlines obligations etc about cancellation can u just close it or is there some clawback.

    • mactoon

      Not sure if this is still accurate but when you cancel your ticket you have to contact the ticket office in writing stating you are cancelling your ticket. There is a deadline and you will need to ask them what that date is or another payment will be due.

      • Leazes.

        I didn’t talk to the club why should I they don’t talk to me…… the first time around….I just went to the bank and stopped it

        • mactoon

          I’m sure I remember the club threatening to sue anyone who did that just before I cancelled mine so I thought it better to follow their instructions. Once they received the letter they emailed me two or three times asking me to change my mind.

          • Leazes.

            Wouldn’t that be a great court case with the resulting publicity….

            ….’Fan cancels season ticket as product not what it said on the tin’…..

            They wouldn’t dare and they couldn’t win, the product is not as described.

  • Leazes.

    Quoting Ryder is pretty stupid…. he’s not blessed with foresight, he’s not even blessed with hindsight.

    • Albert Stubbins

      He’s blessed with stupidity!!

  • Leazes.

    You know what would help here…. a statement from Mark Jensen on why posts are attacked. Ryder is targeted because he is the one individual who has done the most damage to United…. you cannot give Liverpool fans, Blackburn fans a say in the running of OUR club, administered by another Scouse and owned by a Derbyshire lad with a c*ckney bloody accent!

    We want our club back from these people…. all of them!

    • The Crooked Mag

      He’s not from Derbyshire but his retail HQ is. From a logistical point its the right place as its “In the Middle”

      Shirebrook is now known around here as Little Poland due to the number of Eastern Europeans that work there.

      How do i know this? Shirebrook is about 12 miles from me.

      • Leazes.

        He was born in Walsall…. I’m going without my notes…. his dad was born in Derbyshire and his mother was from Grimsby.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    The sentiment is commendable and there is a whiff of “If Only” about it because it should be a widespread consensus, But alas most people will renew regardless.
    Therein lies the problem until the fans get together to force change at the club nothing will transpire unfortunately !

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Most season ticket holders are on ten year deals and so renewed their tickets at the end of February. Ashley is not daft.

    • mactoon

      exactly

    • Guest 2

      Unlike yourself…

      • TheNutJob

        he`s as mad as a hatter

  • Gallowgate1982

    considering geting my boy hs forst season ticket for his Birthday which means i will have to get one to take him so If I am about to invest circa £1000 plus fortnightly spendies in the club ( I go tothe odd game on a mates free ticket and have refused to spend any of my own money on the club since they sacked Keegan) I expect Rafa to be at the helm…it is why I will wait until he has signed a long term contract before I will commit to it..poor bairn will just have to wait

  • TheNutJob

    diven`t sign Rafa, not until the players you want are standing in St James with a shirt on, you know Fatty will pull a stroke

    • Stephen Paylor

      that isn’t how you spell divent lol

  • Desree

    I love what Rafa has/is doing.

    The football at SJP has been awful since 2004. Its like 52000 people turning up to watch a snail race.

    I can only see it getting worse if Rafa leaves.

  • Albert Stubbins

    Adios Rafa. Was lovely having you here. Thanks for everything.xx