Our thanks to Chris Holt for his latest contribution.
Newcastle fans protest and look to the best way to help the club move forward, with the manager still at St James Park,
Chris has penned ‘A letter to Mike Ashley on why I go if Rafa goes’, enjoy.
To Mike Ashley:
I’d like to enquire about the branch of your shop at St James Park, Newcastle.
Primarily, when I started frequenting St James Park, it had been home to a football club, a famous club that competed in European competition eleven out of thirteen seasons prior to your buyout. Only eight other English clubs have won more domestic trophies than Newcastle United. Newcastle are one of only thirteen English clubs that have won a European trophy. But even when we haven’t been winning things or qualifying for Europe, wherever the club stood in the league it was almost always a club that looked to compete at the level it was playing. A club that broke their own transfer record every three and a half years on average, in pursuit of the quality of players it needed to improve (if not necessarily win silverware). A club that trained young local lads that would go on to play for England at the highest level. Whenever these primary objectives were not keenly pursued by the owners at any time, change inevitably followed.
Since you took over in 2007 you have changed the reason the club had existed for over a hundred years prior, Newcastle United switched from being a football club that generally wanted the best players it could afford and provided them with the best facilities, to being the footballing wing of your store, plastered with your logo.
Games of football have since been hosted at St James Park, but only as an afterthought, the primary objective seems to have been to sell cheaply produced merchandise to devotees of the Newcastle United brand and a global audience of Premier league viewers.
To achieve YOUR primary goals related to your shop, Newcastle United no longer pursues the primary interest of supporters like me. You have decided that those interests take second place to your own.
The falling standards that have resulted from this change of focus are exemplified by the fact that the club has been relegated twice in the eleven years you have owned it. You could go back more than forty years prior to your arrival and only see Newcastle relegated twice.
It’s also shown by the fact you have not once broken the club transfer record, you have to go back thirteen years, to the previous owners, to find a transfer where we outspent our own previous high.
It’s five years since you announced with great fanfare that the dated academy and training facilities were in need of an overhaul and would be getting one. As Joe Kinnear stated at the time: “Top players and top teams need top training and medical facilities”, yet there has not been any renovation even started since.
Where money has been available to progress the club you have often failed to invest it in the club, you preferred to repay yourself £11m of loans in 11/12 and have, as yet, refused to invest the revenues of two years in the Premier league since promotion in 2017.
There has been some sizeable re-investment of club generated funds on occasion. After AshleyOut.com arranged a boycott of a home game against Tottenham Hotspur in 2015 there was a reaction from you the following summer, clearly the threat of wider boycotts became a real concern and a £75m net spend followed. However, whenever club revenue has been spent on players, your criteria has been detrimental, never seemingly a manager’s first choice, you only buy unproven players that you hope will accrue a quick growth in value, but that most often clog up the wage bill and cannot be shifted.
As a manager, Rafa Benitez has publicly stated what he thinks needs to happen to make this a football club again. He does not seek the level of investment that Manchester City make, no matter if you choose to inaccurately portray his position as such. He asks only for the limited investment in facilities and players that any other Premier League club outside of the top six spends. So far in the Summer 2018 transfer window the thirteen clubs other than Newcastle that sit outside of the top six, have spent an average £28m on transfer fees. That was before Everton started spending. The £4m Newcastle have spent is one seventh of this average and a dereliction of the needs of the team.
As a supporter of a football club, I cannot continue to spend my money at St James Park if it fails to act as a football club, if it has been co-opted as part of a retail empire. I don’t support your shop, I support Newcastle United.
Rafa Benitez is a great manager with very few peers in world football. I don’t think there are many that understand the needs of a football club any better and I place the utmost faith in him to judge whether or not the club’s primary interest is as a football club. I will only continue to spend my money at St James Park if Rafa Benitez is satisfied that he is getting the support that my funding should be contributing towards and remains in his position as manager, as he has publicly pledged his desire to do.
I hope to see positive action towards improvements that will satisfy the manager and supporters being made soon.
You can follow the author on Twitter @bigchrisholt