The slightest event, or even ‘non-event’, at Newcastle United is always amplified by 100. This past week it was something as simple as a free transfer signing and the official announcement of the new kit.

On the face of it, Newcastle made a good signing that took a lot of people by surprise. Mainly because nobody knew anything about it until around an hour or two before it was officially announced. A pleasant surprise for once.

After reading an article on The Mag, as well as a few comments on twitter regarding the comparisons between this kit launch and those of previous years, it got me thinking. Then, the club’s Head of Marketing Communications commented on the feed, suggesting the whole thing (the commenting on the kit launch) was ludicrous.

Quite entitled to his opinion, although I though his tone was rather inappropriate given his position of responsibility. In the middle of writing a University thesis at the moment, it was going to take a lot for me to break off and write something…but the more I thought about it, the more it got me thinking about the larger utter contempt that the club has for its fans.

Before writing something that would largely be viewed as a ‘moan’, I spent the whole weekend trying to think of all the good things about the club at the moment.

The only ones I came up with were;

1. We have a brilliant manager;

2. The massive impact Gallowgate Flags have had on the atmosphere;

3. The work of NUFC Food Bank who are an inspiration to all of us and finally;

4. Our loyalty points system is pretty good and probably the fairest way to go about things.

What this summer has proved to me more than any other summer is that the club has drifted into a second-rate, knock off version of a football club. You might say, where have you been for the past 10 years, and that’s a fair comment, but it has really hit home this summer. Look at us, wheeling and dealing, scraping the barrel of the transfer market for loan signings, free transfers and looking to sell some of our best players.

What nags me also is that the press seems to be going along with it. I don’t see any other clubs in the bottom half of the PL wheeling and dealing like Newcastle seem to be doing.

There will be some people of course who will say “well other clubs haven’t done much either” or “we are only half way through the summer and the World Cup hasn’t finished yet” but this isn’t new, other clubs haven’t been doing what Newcastle United have been doing for the past 10 years. I guess deep down I had a feeling this summer might be a little different, especially giving the positive end to the last season.

Now, that feeling deep down is that this isn’t a football club anymore, anyone who thinks otherwise I think I would argue all day with you. I used to disagree with what I am about to say but it is very clear now: first and foremost, Newcastle United is a marketing tool for Sports Direct, and a football club second. The primary aim of Newcastle United is to promote the best interests of Sports Direct, not to win football matches, not win trophies. It is the only logical explanation as to why Sports Direct don’t pay advertising fees and why there is not more transparency on the relationship between SD and the NUFC online and offline shops.

The central point I am trying to make in this article is that Newcastle United remains an incredibly mismanaged football club, and attention has drifted away from this fact, just because Rafa got the team playing well.

Would it be too much to have hoped for a summer filled with a little bit of hope, a bit of expectation, mixed with excitement. Supporting Newcastle United is none of that. Not any more anyway.

It used to be like that, it used to be excitement of who we were going to sign, how would we improve on last season, which young players may get a chance the next season. Now what do we have? A clutch of free and low fee signings, talk of selling our most promising young player (Merino), and one of our best players (Ritchie).

For the record, I think Ki is a very astute signing, I watched him at Celtic for a few years and was surprised that only Swansea (no disrespect intended by that) picked him up at the time. However, in the wider context, I see this signing as a symptom of what this summer is going to look like. Looking for a bargain. It seems like a continuation of the policy we have seen at Newcastle for 10 years (which hasn’t worked), of looking at the bottom of the bargain basement for a plucky signing. In fact, I don’t see any evidence that the whole ‘purple’ players philosophy has changed.

(**As a side note too, on the topic of the actual new shirt too. I don’t like Puma. It looks and feels cheap, especially in comparison with Adidas, Nike or New Balance. I think the cheap look is a fair representation for a football club that does everything it can on the cheap.)

What really annoys me the most is that the club make a free signing for an average PL player (albeit a good signing) and there is this expectation that the fans should be jumping for joy. Is that what it has come to? I have to be honest, I would question whether this was even Rafa’s signing.

newcastle united

I would actually argue that if the reported rumours of swapping Townsend for Ritchie are true, then I would question just how much control Rafa has over signings. I find it hard to believe that he would want to swap Ritchie, a player that epitomises playing for NUFC under Rafa, for a player that didn’t even want to play for us… irrespective of how much Rafa reportedly likes Townsend.

Even the Ki signing, I do feel bad for even thinking it, and it is probably disrespectful towards a good player like Ki to suggest it, but it wouldn’t half surprise me if this wasn’t Rafa’s idea at all, instead it was an opportunity for Sports Direct to sign a big player from the lucrative Asian market. I don’t necessarily believe that…but it is a guilty thought that I have had.

Funny enough, I have said something similar on social media and there are a few comments from people who say “how can you say this only halfway through the summer” etc, to which I can only ask the question “where have you been for the last 10 years?”.  If anything, this summer is going to be even worse. Right now, Newcastle have around 28 senior players on their books, so Rafa is only going to be allowed to sell before he can buy… there are even reports that Fulham aren’t willing to pay the 20 mil for Mitro. Even the absolute certainties like the Mbemba and Sels deals have fallen through. It is so mismanaged it’s beyond belief.

Again, people will say “ah you are having a moan – typical moaning about anything”. The truth is that we have been moaning about the same thing for at least 10 years now. It is actually the reason why I really like The Mag… because even through the times when the results are good or bad, people on this website still highlight the good and the bad.

This brings me to my next point, that it appears people at the club, as well as the local press, like to hide the failures at the club while the results on the pitch are ok.

Criticism levelled at the club during the ‘good times’ (god forbid that one decent season finishing 10th is the good times) is seen as fans moaning and being unrealistic when in actual fact, a lot of the criticisms about the club are unrelated to results on the pitch. Likewise, I feel that the press has avoided any criticism of the club during Rafa’s stint because they like Rafa, and they like the access the club gives them when being ‘friendly’. I may be wrong, probably am wrong, but that’s how I see it.

In fact, I would argue that the worst thing about Rafa being in charge, is the fact he gets decent results out of a lot of average players which allows the club to continue its shambolic policies and largely be unaccountable for it.

What this really comes down to, is how a football club is run. I come from a family who also support Celtic, so I have always been brought up on the idea that a football club belongs to the fans, the community, it should be run in the interest of the people. Essentially a football club belongs to the fans, and is for the fans. Jock Stein once said “Football without fans is nothing”.

Some people see The Mag as being too negative. I don’t really see it that way. For me, The Mag is a space for ANY Newcastle fan (ED: See details below) to be able to give their opinion on their club. Anyone can write for The Mag, all you have to do is write your opinion and email it over, so I think this idea that The Mag has some sort of agenda that writers have to conform to is a complete myth. It is actually just the opinion of some fans.

newcastle united

Previously, I went with the idea that we should get behind Rafa because he is the best thing to happen to Newcastle for a while, but I am slowly learning that as long as the structure and other personnel at the club is the same, then nothing would ever change. It may be that Rafa leaving would be the best thing to happen to Newcastle, if it meant that it would anger fans so much that they made a greater effort to get rid of Mike Ashley.

I would rather be in League Two without Rafa Benitez and Mike Ashley, supporting a club with a bit of identity, than be in the Premier League right now with Mike Ashley (though of course I don’t really want to lose Rafa, unless it was the only way to get rid of Ashley).

Maybe I am a mug for renewing my season ticket, but hell, I want to watch my football team… and on the off-chance that we do miraculously make it to a cup final, I want to be there, and I am not going to let that fat b…… stop me.

One thing is for certain though, as long as those Sports Direct signs surround the stadium, and as long as those signs either side of ‘Newcastle United’ hover above the hallowed turf, this club has no identity and it will never truly be our club.

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn

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  • panther

    how many miliseconds did it take?

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    The primary aim of Newcastle United is not to win football matches. I could be wrong but we finished tenth and had great wins against Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. Times have moved on in football and clubs need wealthy owners. If Celtic were in the Premier league they would get relegated such is there form in the Champions league. Why do they not build a team to say compete with Manchester City or Liverpool. Try following Newcastle for six seasons in the second division, one game away from the third division, crowds down to seven thousand and any good player that moves sold. Under Ashley we have finished fifth, eighth and tenth twice and signed some really good players. Yes we got relegated twice but both times with teams full of star players who should have done a lot better. Both times we came straight back up and the last eleven years do not compare with the late 70’s early 80’s to say the least. The problem with many your age is that the Keegan years were not the norm and football has moved on where only money talks. Till you get your new rich owner I suggest you give the club your full support and stop moaning.

    • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

      As said in the article… I would rather be in League 2 and have a club with abit of identity rather than the PL so not sure your whole Keegan comment about people my age makes any sense at all.

      • SuperDesHamilton

        These older fans think because of the age they’ve got a right to tell you what you should & shouldn’t think

      • panther

        monk rarely makes sense

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          Not rarely, Never

          • panther

            He might talk to rainman, go counting cards together

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        The Keegan and Robson years were the tears we bucked the trend and punched above our weight historically and that I am afraid does not happen often. We very much have identity that is why fifty one thousand turned up every game and saw us turn over Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea. That is why we sold out every away game bar Everton. We have had some class players over the last few years. This site is all doom and gloom and when we do make good signings like Lejeune and Lascelles, Shelvey the Mag is still all doom and gloom. It is only the Mag that could say we have no identify as the rest of the country certainly does. Going back to Celtic when they finish Champions they ten to get hammered like 12- 1 on aggregate off Paris St Germain so why does their board not identify the problem and build a team to compete.

        • Billmag

          Monk your mate Ashley is the sole reason there’s doom and gloom on this forum, I’m quite sure if he was interested in the football side of things instead of SD and the balance sheet people might not be so objective.

        • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

          Hey, if you’re happy with Mike Ashley and the way he runs this football club then thats fine by me. I just think you are stupid for it.

          Asking why Celtic can’t compete with PSG is the stupidest argument I have ever heard… especially given the fact that PSG is owned by QSi which is indirectly owned by the richest nation state on earth. It is just a stupid argument.

          • Monkseaton Magpies

            Perhaps I picked the wrong team but they cannot compete with many teams in the Champions League and always get knocked out so why is there no ambition at all at Celtic. Anderlecht 4-0 aggregate defeat, Barcelona 9-0 aggregate. These are pub scores and the Celtic fans are happy with this .

          • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

            I get the feeling you don’t know what you’re talking about in regards to Celtic. Especially considering Celtic’s aggregate against Anderlecht last year a 3-1 win??

            The fans just want the club to try and improve year on year. Actually, they are little ‘peeved’ this summer so far as there really doesn’t seem to be much going on, especially in addressing the defence.

            Just like any other club, and just like Newcastle fans, they don’t expect to be competing with the best… they just want their club to try and improve year on year. To try and win as many football matches as possible.

          • Monkseaton Magpies

            Well try Bryan Munich 5-1 defeat Barcelona 9-0 defeat, P.S.G 12 -1 defeat you get my drift and the directors never do anything about it by signing good players to compete so what is the point of the club.

          • TheFatController

            Oh, I think you’ll find Monkseaton Mugpie has come up with way more stupid arguments than that, hard though you may find it to believe.

    • panther

      I did , I was there

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      There`s nutters & then there`s you, Top of the pile by a distance

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        So you rate me higher than Fleckmen and Clarko.

        • Tino11

          Well you are definitely in the “top 15 nutters” that’s for sure!

          • TheFatController

            He said got 1,153 Nutter points yes

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          By a country mile

    • Billmag

      Been there Monk but in them days there was always hope, there is absolutely no hope as long as this regime owns this club.

    • I’ve got the Ki

      When did we finish 8th?

    • Damon Horner

      To be honest mate, there needs more balance. Not every signing is a superstar so some fans need to be more accommodating when it comes to Ki, top 6 would also be harder to achieve as well but most fans just want to feel competitive. Ashley speaks only when he wants, go lost the connection to the fans a while ago and has no intention to change that so things which happen can only be taken as an interpretation and since all he has really said since our last relegation is that we cannot compete in the league and we’ve witnessed early cup exits since that point then it’s interpreted as no will to compete. Players with a competitive nature over the years have turned away.

      Main point is though mate is any sporting institution which takes it’s status for granted with no desire to think bigger are taking their fans, sponsors and employees for granted and that isn’t fair in any sport.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    The primary indication that things will improve is if Rafa signs a new contract,
    because if he`s does it means that this time around he has the Pig by the Balls
    🐷

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    JDC,
    will you renew next season if Rafa leaves & another Patsy comes in
    That is the question as there`s a thin line between loyalty and sheer stupidity

    • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

      Yes sadly, there isn’t a lot that would stop me going to watch my team.

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        Psychiatrist may help, don`t use Monkseaton`s though

        • TheFatController

          You can borrow his strait jacket though… it’s a SD one – 90% off RRP.

          • MichaelMaximusMoose

            😂😂

      • Leazes.

        idiot… you are helping Ashley!

        • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

          I think a lot of people are like me in the sense that there are only a few things keeping them holding onto their season ticket.

          1. Loyalty Points.
          2. Guaranteed ticket for the Sunderland game.
          3. Guaranteed ticket if we make it to Wembley.

          Obviously we don’t have to worry about playing Sunderland ever again so really, although people don’t admit it on social media, a lot that keeps people from holding onto their season ticket is that innate hope that when we do eventually win a cup, they are going to be there.

          It is the only logical reason for a season ticket because if you don’t have one, you can still get a ticket for ANY game (except Sunderland) at home… and even away from home if you know the right people.

          • Leazes.

            You’ll still be saying that when you’re a pensioner and wondering where your life went.

          • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

            Probably!

          • Mark Davies

            Agree fully. Dont listen to some of the naysayers on here who pretend not to go

          • panther

            I wouldn’t worry yourself about Wembley except Spurs away

        • Mark Davies

          You go dont you? Therefore you also help ashley

  • Peaky

    Long shot I know but would love to see the Mexicans knock Brazil out here…

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Don`t be daft, i`ve got my Tank on them
      😠😠😠

      • Peaky

        Is Ally McCoist the only Scotsman in Russia ???

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          He`s like a Dog barking

        • Kneebotherm8

          Och aye the noo……..

    • Kneebotherm8

      Great comment from Martin O’Neil on Neymars OTT histrionics after Layuns supposed “stamp” on his ankle………” I’d hate to see him in the doctors after a flu’ injection”…………….aaaah nearly pssssd mesell at that one………seriously though……Neymar takes play acting to a new level……….he’s a multiple Oscar winner in the making…….

      • Peaky

        They’re terrible for it the Brazilians…..can you remember Rivaldo when someone chucked the ball at him near the corner flag….went down like he’d been shot…if not Belgium I think the French might have too much for Brazil..

        • Kneebotherm8

          Cheaters basically…………
          Tough games ahead for them………then the toughest…….. England in the final…….😂😂

          • TheNutJob

            wor kids got a fortune on them, Brazzzzilll,
            his back up was a few quid on Mexico, so 1`s oot
            😂😂😂

          • Kneebotherm8

            Aye, I got a tenner on them as well at 4/1,not BetVictor mind………afore am shot doon…😂

          • TheNutJob

            he`s got a couple of 100 on them at 9/2

          • Kneebotherm8

            Looking good I would say………good for a grand……..
            I backed the Germans as well…..total washoot them like…..💩💩

          • TheNutJob

            i`m losing hand over fist game by game

          • Kneebotherm8

            A lot of the favourites are getting blootered……..

          • Peaky

            Could well happen.

          • TheNutJob

            no it couldn`t
            😂😂

          • Peaky

            Aye….France v England final…..Wor Lass will go into hiding….🇫🇷🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

          • TheNutJob

            🐸🐸🐸🐸🐸🐸

        • TheNutJob

          Pepe`s the best at rolling around, a Brazilian playing for Portugal

  • Tino11

    Leazes are these double-barrelled authors trying to throw you off the scent? 😉

    • Leazes.

      He’s real sunshine…. all the ones with ridiculous names like Drape Comyn and Van Der Velde and Jensen are real….. and all of the ones with names from Devon, Cornwall and Wiltshire are fake…. usually easy to spot as they are combinations of first and surname that no parents would chose, or are so characterised that you would expect them to be extras in an Enid Blyton novel.

  • Wezza

    Great article highlighting the current state.
    “It is so mismanaged it’s beyond belief”

    By design I’d say.

  • Leazes.

    Cheap Owner
    Cheap Chairman
    Cheap Players

    Sold off Land
    Sold off Players
    Sold off Future

    Abdication of ambition
    Abdication of responsibility
    Abdication of sense

    Trophy Manager
    Trophy-less
    Catas-trophe

    • Tino11

      Fat owner
      Fat wad of cash in his pocket
      Fat chance he will ever change

  • TheNutJob

    Nee news is bad news if you support the Toon.
    😂😂😂😂

  • Superdooperhooper

    The reason we can’t offload unwanted players is because other clubs get fed up and frustrated by ashley and charnley. They want to sell unwanted players for fortunes and buy players for nowt. If I was a chairman of another club I’d pretend to be out if penfold phoned

    • TheNutJob

      they do, all the time
      😂😂

  • Gallowgate Dave

    “I used to disagree with what I am about to say but it is very clear now: first and foremost, Newcastle United is a marketing tool for Sports Direct, and a football club second”

    I admire your very evident passion for footy Jonathan but that sentence comes across spectacularly naive. It’s been very clear since Ashley fell out with Keegan 10 years ago that Ashley lost interest after we sided with Keegan and now just looks on us as a resource to be exploited in furthering his Sports Direct aims (if we were ever anything else). I’m like you though, a match going fan and very little would persuade me not to go. I’ve always thought a well organised and sustained, targeted protest against Sports Direct would be more effective (but would take more effort) than a few stay aways that will always be replaced so I don’t agree with those on their high horse about your continued match attendance. It’s just a shame it’s this way as for 10 years I’ve had to dampen down (to an extent) my enthusiasm and passion for our club otherwise it’d drive me nuts and although we still have a decent match crew most of my mates that I grew up playing footy with no longer go as they know with Ashley it’s all about exploitation. Unbelievably there are still worse owners out there (Venkys, Oystons, Allams) but we’ll never reach our potential under Ashley.

    • Duh

      Yes, bad owners, badly managing football clubs is nothing new, in fact it’s hardly new to this club

      • Gallowgate Dave

        Aye nothing new but the reason it probably feels worse now more than ever is the amount of money sloshing around in the game, more multi-millionaire players who have done nothing in the professional game and whose ego is out of proportion to their achievements, highest ever ticket prices and yet even less influence in the sport than ever for fans and, certainly in Ashley’s case at least, a perfect dovetail with Sports Direct so he can exploit us for commercial gain and as long as he treads water in the Premier League his “asset” holds its value. Our primary purpose has ceased to be a football club. That’s what feels different this time.

        • Duh

          It’s pretty shocking the wage bill was 110m in the championship, the premier league TV money hardly covers that.

          It’s not really a viable business and that is why you don’t want a business man owning your club if you have aspirations of top 6 and big player signings.

          I think a lot of people on here fail to understand this. Yes Mikey has mismanaged the club but it would take an exceptional team to get to where we were under Keegan (the first time) without Russian, Asian or Middle Eastern money.

          Somewhere in between would of course be nice but, you need a new owner for that; one that would speculate a bit but without being reckless like Shepherd or Ridsdale at Leeds.

          Someone who prioritises the academy, employs a non-tea boy to drive commercial revenue and build a global brand whilst constantly improving the scouting network.

          That said, there would still be some fans that like to complain, including the nobbers that criticised Rafa as being a has-been.

          • Gallowgate Dave

            Aye that’s a fair and balanced view. It’s not realistic to expect a businessman with zero connection to the area to just throw his own money at us with no return. Aside from being taken over as a vanity project from someone wanting to prove that their pocket is bigger than everyone else’s pocket the best we can hope for is exactly as you say – drive commercial revenue, improve scouting leading to clever purchases, clever managerial appointments and improving the academy to bring through players instead of shelling out fortunes. Almost none of this Ashley has got right though and he’s so hands off now he never will. There’s also no chance of him putting the right executive team in place to try and achieve it either as he prefers those that are so grateful to have the job they are loyal to him. I’m not convinced by the £110 million on wages mind, that included provisions for “onerous contracts” whatever that means but it does appear that there was no relegation clauses inserted in contracts to reduce wages which is pretty criminal as it would suggest lessons aren’t being learned.

          • TheFatController

            Some good points in the thread. To outsiders, it must seem bizarre that the revenue generating streams are so negligently under-Invested.

            Equally, to anyone outside football they must look at our debt, and see Ashley refuse to pay for the likes of Lacazette, Dele Alli, Modric etc (latter two did come to the ground with a view to signing?) and wonder what goes through their heads when happy to sign the likes of Joselu and Riviere ?

            That we managed the trick with Cabaye, Wijnaldum and sissoko just makes it look worse. It’s like the regime never learn from ANYTHING!

            Darwin said it was those that adapt that survive, the regime hardly ever adapt – like dinosaurs taking the tv money, never taking too much of a gamble on talent, all you can await is your eventual extinction. Whilst spurs adapt with new stadiums, backing the best manager available to them, picking up the Dele Allis, reinvesting when they sell Bale, Walker, etc

            Adapt or die. See it coming before it happens ideally. We have our heads in the sand sadly.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            As you say, The wage bill includes a £20m provision, the actual cost is closer to £85m, nevertheless, in the championship that is huge.

            Income in the EPL is around £175-£200m and allowing wages to rise to £100m still allows room for a profit after other costs to be £30m plus.

            I think it’s a little naive to hope for a relegation clause in contracts. The biggest wage was Rafa, he was not staying without a big wage and very hefty bonus for promotion and that extended to the coaching team.

            To attract good players like Ritchie into the Championship, you have to pay big wages, to attract good players like Shlvey into a relegation threatened team, you can’t cut wages in the case of relegation. In fact, the likelihood is a relegation release clause.

          • Gallowgate Dave

            Ritchie wasn’t relegated with us so it wouldn’t have applied to him, you could still offer whatever wages you wanted to new players to attract them to the Championship. Of course maybe you do run the risk of losing players such as Shelvey but those players you consider important could be offered new contracts thus over-riding the reduction clause putting the club in control, not over a barrel with unwanted players like Haidara and Saivet who were free to just turn down moves and pick up exactly the same Premier League wages. You call it naive but would we have been relegated if the players had that extra focus that a potential wage reduction would bring? Funny what you can achieve when you threaten someone’s pocket! It’s also totally fair that the players shoulder some of the responsibility and burden that the huge reduction in revenue entails, why should the club absorb all the loss when it’s the players fault? I’ve worked to sales targets previously in my career and if I didn’t achieve it I didn’t earn, it’s about time multi-millionaire footballers lived with those consequences too. If you think that’s naivety what would you call what Sunderland pay Jack Rodwell in League One due to them not protecting themselves?

          • Superdooperhooper

            Most of what you say I agree with but the fact is ashley employed the wrong people like Dennis wise and kinnear and sacked Chris Houghton and keegan. That’s not lack of football knowledge just a lack of common sense

          • Duh

            Undoubtedly he has mismanaged the club for sure – as you say to the point where you wonder how he built a successful business, you can’t put it down just to football naivety.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            He made mistakes (although I didnt rate Hughton as highly as many do now, I believe Pardew was a step up at the time) but the decisions in recent years have been positive.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            The wage bill includes a £20m provision, the actual cost is closer to £85m, nevertheless, in the championship that is huge.

            Income in the EPL is around £175-£200m and allowing wages to rise to £100m still allows room for a profit after other costs to be £30m plus.

            You are spot on, to get a Keegan side now competing with the top 6 is going to take a super rich sugar daddy or a long term stable plan. I prefer the latter and it can happen but fans will need to be patient. Some will shout 11 years of being patience but I think we have a good base to start.

    • Leazes.

      Certainly cant reach our potential as he’s taken the Strawberry Place land for himself….. I’d say thats game over at SJP.

      We tried to safeguard the land but it proved impossible.

      • Gallowgate Dave

        I’ve seen a few comments from Mackems down the years talking about how they own their ground in direct comparison to us but I believe we do own the ground, we just lease the land it’s built on from the council right? And what a relief if that’s correct, at least then an owner like Ashley could be prevented from selling off our heritage.

        I seem to recall reading something from NUST about them trying to prevent the sale of the land. Memory is a little hazy. Is that what you are referring to?

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          What happened is this. The club bought the land in 2005/6. The intention was to cash in on the proposed ‘super casino’ that the government of the time announced as a way to boost ailing towns.

          We had the land as a joint venture with MGM and night the car park Infront of the metro and a lease in the lower car park for a combined £800k. We also bought shares in the joint venture where £2m was deposited in a bank account. We borrowed this money at 11pc interest.

          The plan for the casino was to help finance the stadium by incorporating a hotel and the expansion of the stadium would do on the hotel, partly using the foundations to pride stability.

          The government changed its mind and the casino idea was dead in the water.

          By 2010, the club needed money to get out of the championship and ffp rules restrict borrowing. Mike Ashley bought the land, lease and shares for approx £6m giving the club money to avoid more player sales and we got promoted.

          The land without a casino is an irrelevance to Nufc. It’s been leased to a car park operator since being acquired and the lease income did not cover the interest. Only now has Mike Ashley’s company come up with a development idea.

          • Gallowgate Dave

            Impressive knowledge Bobbi, how do you actually know all this to that level of detail?

            I think the reason most fans are so cynical, me included, is amongst many other mistakes Ashley has made just the sheer lack of enthusiasm he has to engage with supporters creates mistrust. You argue the sale of the land isn’t a bad thing for the club but the natural view IS to assume it’s good for Ashley rather than the club, particularly when you read about things like the merchandising deal he struck at Rangers, the free advertising at NUFC and the statement that it was to be paid for in future (still waiting), his excessive use of zero hour contracts, attempts to record the MPs touring the Sports Direct warehouse and effectively paying staff less than the minimum wage due to the security clearances they had to go through on their own time. Everything you hear about him seems exploitative like a vulture picking at a corpse and even a free market capitalist must despair at a man like Ashley as unchecked he appears to give the system a poor reputation.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            What I know is mainly gleaned from the accounts, it’s all there, what was paid, the fact a loan was taken to pay for it and the depositing of monies. The Sale of the land is all documented.

            It’s absolutely true to say Ashley’s lack of communication does him no favours but I’d guess he thinks that it’s not worth explaining ans the rumour mill is always louder. I’ve explained the land issue on here many times, even when Leazes’ was not blocking me but he still persists with the myth.

            Free advertising? Advertising usually amounts to about 50% shirt sponsorship deal. We get £8m for the shirt sponsorship so advertising would be around £4m. SD don’t take up all the advertising, about 50% so £2m? The argument is this is offset by the interest, the reasons are more complex but the interest would cost the club about £10m a year so the club get a great deal here. Even so, there is an entry in SD accounts suggesting £500k was paid for advertising to NUFC in the championship year.

            The land was not and has not been worth much to NUFC since the decision was taken by central government not to allow ‘super-casinos’. From that point, why keep it? As it happened, the loan for it was due to be repaid in 2010 (& not before), Ashley’s company bought the land at a profit to the club and it helped get around FFP rules as the money paid by Ashley’s company was more than book value.

            I think there are a lot of red herrings with Ashley, by all means we can be annoyed that he bought in Dennis Wise, called the ground the SD arena etc but much is not worth worrying about.

            Rangers? The deal with rangers was SD rather than Ashley. Rangers needed money and their directors / shareholders weren’t putting money in the pot. Only SD were willing but the security was to control merchandise. It’s not really surprising, Rangers were at risk of going bust AGAIN so SD needed some security and the merchandise was the only security they could get.

            As for zero hour contracts? I personally think a free labour market is good. The effective rate being below minimum wage is a bit of a ruse to be seen to do something. I’ve worked in defence buildings, government buildings, supermarkets and banks and security checks are normal and the time they take is not paid for.

          • Gallowgate Dave

            I’ll defer to your in depth knowledge of the accounts on the sale of the land and appreciate the replies. I personally don’t agree with blocking those with a different opinion to my own but Leazes is free to do as he pleases I suppose.

            Maybe there are red herrings, that’s why I like to seek out alternative opinions rather than just have my own opinion reinforced but as I say the lack of communication leads to huge mistrust for me. It’s not as if he’s just like that with the press, the club/Ashley are exactly the same with Rafa, NUST, fans forums, MPs, fellow shareholders etc. It leads me to believe he has something to hide and doesn’t want to be caught out so pleads the fifth instead. Even if I suspend disbelief and see him as the shy, retiring type and a poor misunderstood soul he seems incapable of inspiring people, seems to have little enthusiasm for us and is incapable of driving commercial growth or at least unwilling to put the effort into it/appoint a board that will.

            It’s a bit disingenuous to claim the Rangers deal was Sports Direct and not Ashley when Ashley owns over 60% of Sports Direct shares last time I checked. Sports Direct is Mike Ashley, witness Keith Hellawell’s continued chairmanship due to Ashley’s support no matter what the other shareholders opinions are on its weak corporate governance.

            And a free labour market is great for employers and probably the general economy Bobbi, it’s just an utterly miserable existence for the poorest and most vulnerable workers in our society. I’ve never been on a zero hours contract and I’m pretty sure from speaking to you that you won’t have been either but you aren’t a daft lad. Don’t try and feed me the line that the employees love the flexibility, it’s the employers in that relationship that hold all the cards.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            I know a chap on the fans forum and he’s not a Mike Ashley fan but even he concluded NUST and the others who were removed from the fans forum were being obstructive and trying to follow their own agenda. Once resolved, he says the fans forum worked much better.

            I thought he was quite fair with the MP’s questioning, I must say, if it were me I may have been a little less fair!!

            The commercial growth is another red herring to me. It’s something Chris Holt (of this parish) brings up but I’ve discussed with him and others who know their onions, he’s not comparing like with like. We outsource so much now, the income is mainly profit as the costs are picked up by Sodexo, Sports Direct etc etc.

            With Rangers, the loan was very much sports Direct, yes, he owns 53% but that loan was advanced from SD plc and the deal in question was different to NUFC’s deal.

            Zero-hours is good for some, not for others. It’s a whole different argument though, as it is, the better SD does, the more likely MA is flush and the more likely he’ll throw more money at the club. Let’s be honest, many fans will welcome a middle eastern oil billionaire, they are not known for their great staff relations.

          • Gallowgate Dave

            Fans forum – anecdotal. I can only take yours and your insider’s word for it. NUST hasn’t struck me as being overly unfair but assuming they were the punishment is still draconian, a total ban for publishing the minutes. This doesn’t strike you as totalitarian?

            Ashley’s performance was pure panto. He’s the founder and majority shareholder yet he professed to not having a clue to the reality of what was happening in his business. Either he’s a liar or he needs to pay more attention as his staff have helped him accumulate an awful lot of wealth.

            “The better SD does, the more likely MA is flush and the more likely he’ll throw more money at the club”

            Howay man Bobbi not even you could believe that statement. Mike himself has already said he isn’t prepared to bankroll the club. We haven’t broken our transfer record for 13 years despite being awash with TV money and our average net yearly spend over 11 years is something like £5 million I believe.

            Ok the loan was advanced by Sports Direct. So what? I’m positive the founder and majority shareholder who also happens to know quite a lot about exploiting footy fans love of their team knew quite a lot about the deal which gave them a reported 93p in the £1 of all merchandising. That’s not an equitable deal and if you believe it is you must wear a mask to work. The fact is we don’t know exactly what NUFC’s relationship with Sports Direct is.

            I spotted a typo in your last paragraph. It should read, zero hours is good for employers, not for employees. You are right though and I won’t get all hypocritical on you, alongside 99.9% of footy fans I’d probably compromise morality for investment as long as it wasn’t evil. My point though is we’re building a picture of Ashley as an exploitative employer, his running of NUFC is cynical as he’s clocked he can exploit footy fans love of their team as it’s not like any other business. If Sports Direct annoy me I can stop shopping there, if NUFC annoy me like many others I can’t just switch off the love of my team. Ashley knows and exploits this.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            When the nust was set up, I was enthusiastic but thet enquiries i madem found they had little intention of creating a trust with a view of buying into the shareholding of the club. No business plan but they were far more interested in political ideologies than raising money to buy into the club.

            As you may have guessed, I don’t care too much for MPs at all, especially MPs getting involved in a business. I’m very small state in that respect, the MPs should concentrate on cleaning the streets, expandung the empire and invading countries rather than getting involved in business. Let’s face it, had the MPs had anything about them, they would have a job in the real world rather than scrounging off the state.

          • Gallowgate Dave

            NUST ineffectiveness we can at least agree on. I joined and was very excited about the prospect of buying even a stake in our club. When it became clear an attempt wasn’t going to happen I got bored, my membership lapsed and I’m not even sure what they do now. Just because it feels wrong to agree with you allow me to throw in another difference of opinion then. The club’s utter contempt for the fans is illustrated by how little they can be bothered with the forum and you can’t blame NUST for that having been thrown out years ago.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            The forum was working well until last June I think. The big problem is the forum members’ time had come to an end, it was a 2 year stretch and the idea was that there would be adequate turnover of membership but it wasn’t that surprising that membership would end all at the same time. There was a request to nominate members in the programme last season.

      • Angelswithdirtyfaces

        He’s an asset stripper, that’s his MO. He’s certainly no asset builder

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          Which asset has been stripped?

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        On what basis was this taken? On what basis was it our potential?

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          He can`t see you Blobby,

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            So he doesn’t have to explain himself. Handy that.

    • Monkseaton Magpies

      As we finished tenth I would say at least eighty three worse Chairmen so for once you are correct

      • Gallowgate Dave

        Setting aside your dodgy mathematics (Finishing 10th out of 92 league clubs would leave 82 beneath us, not 83) are you seriously suggesting Ashley deserves credit for finishing above clubs such as Accrington, Rochdale, Stevenage and Forest Green? We’ve consistently under-achieved as a club for many years but the raw materials are there for us to be an established Premier League club as long as we are competently run instead of a yo yo club fending off relegation more often than not under Ashley.

        • TheFatController

          Logic and Monkseaton mugpie are not comfortable bedfellows, it soon becomes apparent…

          • Gallowgate Dave

            I actually tried to debate with Monk a few weeks ago as I like to seek out alternative viewpoints rather than just have my own reinforced. That’s why I do engage with Clarko and Bobbi, although I frequently disagree with them it can sometimes widen perspective. Unfortunately with Monk I just can’t relate to him at all and find him an Ashley apologist as he won’t listen to any legitimate criticism, I was disappointed with our debate. I actually asked if he’d meet up pre-match and he agreed to meet me in either The Goose or The Three Bulls, can’t remember which one, to prove he isn’t a troll as some accuse him of on here. I was tempted to do that next season but recent interactions have left me less bothered.

  • Geordiegiants

    Kids eh, they will never listen until it’s too late.

  • TheNutJob

    the Japs are giving it a real go here, Kamikaze a divine wind
    Banzai
    😵😵😵😵

  • TheNutJob

    Banzai 2-0

    • Duh

      Just goes to show, it’s not all about big names and big egoes

      • TheNutJob

        2-2 now but Belgium are worried

    • Weyhhadaway

      Belgium 3-2!!!!!!!!!!! kamakazi rat tat tat!!!!

  • Clarko

    Ritchie is gone.

    • Duh

      gone where?

      • Clarko

        Stoke. Kenedy or/and Townsend incoming. (I expect to Newcastle to sign both now that Ritchie has gone)

        • TheNutJob

          hi Clarko
          👽👽

        • Duh

          is this speculation/opinion that you are peddling as fact or is it fact

          • Clarko

            Ritchie is gone.

          • TheNutJob

            Clarko`s never wrong

          • Geordiegiants

            🤣😂🤣😂🤣

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            He’s not got a bad record and he’s right about Ritchie.

        • nevfur

          Would prefer to keep Ritchie too but would be well happy signing Kenedy and Townsend

          • Clarko

            Why?

          • nevfur

            In my opinion he’s a good player and sums up the fighting spirit in the squad. Townsend will undoubtedly be a much bigger threat going forward so would be an exciting addition and if in tandem with Kenedy should be great to watch. Probably more sentimental to want Ritchie still in the squad too I suppose as I think Murphy is a great prospect to back those two and we aren’t big enough to keep Ritchie as fourth choice and he will want to be playing.

          • Clarko

            ‘Probably more sentimental’

            That’s the reason and it’s just not objective, he’s just not good enough, time to cash in and improve.

          • nevfur

            Possibly true as long as we do improve

  • Mrkgw

    I’ll be happy to see Townsend and Kennedy return however, letting Ritchie go is conpletely disasterous.

    • Clarko

      How would letting Ritchie go be ‘disastrous’?

      -Townsend has a goal contribution (goals and assists) every 273 minutes in the Premier League compared to Ritchie who has a goal contribution every 309 minutes in the Premier League.

      -Townsend has a goal every 702 minutes in the Premier League compared to Ritchie who has a goal every 838 minutes in the Premier League.

      -Townsend is quicker, more direct and is able to beat defenders, Ritchie is slower (which has stopped far too many of our attacks) and is unable to beat defenders (he turns around and crosses/passes the ball).

      -Townsend has twice as much experience playing in the Premier League than Ritchie and significantly younger than Ritchie.

      -Townsend received a 7.11 rating from WhoScored last season, Ritchie received a 6.84 rating.

      -Townsend is just better.

      • Mrkgw

        I would be happy with both of those additions Clarko. But, I see Ritchie as another Rob Lee type of player that we can ill afford to lose. Personally, I’d give him a central role in the side.

        • Clarko

          But he’s not a ‘central’ player. What happens when we buy a CAM? Is Ritchie, who will be 29 in September, going to be third choice?

          Why can’t we lose him? He’s just another player, one who I don’t think is good enough for the Premier League.

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          I’d agree with that but I think we have Perez who’s touch is better than Ritchie’s and reads the game better. I think we’ll see another central midfielder arriving this summer so where do you play him?

          I prefer Ritchie to Townsend but Rafa rates Townsend higher.

      • Desree

        Rainman is back

    • Leazes.

      It would be disastrous if you let him go before anyone comes in.