Newcastle fans have had enough of Mike Ashley and nice to see a bit of solidarity coming from the direction of Rangers and Liverpool fans.
Liverpool supporters campaigned against the disastrous Gillett and Hicks ownership of their club.
Whilst Mike Ashley’s malevolent connections at Ibrox brought nothing but trouble to the club, via his part-ownership of the club and the prohibitive merchandise deals he’d managed to get his hands on.
Good to see other fans being supportive of those at Newcastle but no two situations are exactly the same.
At Liverpool, the reality is that for all the fans organised and protested, there was no boycotting of matches and Gillett and Hicks only left in the end because they had run out of money. Difficult at Newcastle when we have a billionaire in charge, who also uses the club to support the rest of his business empire.
At Rangers, it was really all about Ashley’s grip on income from merchandise. It is a whole lot easier to stop buying merchandise than it is to stop going to watch your team. Plus of course the amounts of money you were talking about at Rangers are minute, compared to what Ashley can generate via his connection with NUFC. Plus of course once again, more than anything, you have the fact that he wants/needs Newcastle United to underpin his retail empire.
This doesn’t mean we can’t learn any lessons from what happened at Liverpool and Rangers, especially in terms of what fans could potentially do to have an impact and be a force for change.
However, the rewards of being associated with big Premier League clubs are so far removed from what was the case in the past.
Manchester United fans were rightfully up in arms at the Glazers taking control but they have been at Old Trafford longer than Ashley at St James Park. You might point to the trophies they have won in that time period but the amount of money that the Glazers have taken out of the club, especially in interest payments, is staggering. Without that you could and would have seen a far more dominant Man Utd in this past decade.
Whilst the Glazers have remained, many Man U fans haven’t, just like with Newcastle United they have seen thousands walk away because of those who own the club and the way they run it.
The problem always being that there is always another bum ready to take every seat.
At Newcastle United, we might though very well have reached a tipping point, with the club already well down on season ticket sales this summer. Once/if a point is reached where there is a decent number of empty seats (5,000+ ?) most games, many Newcastle fans won’t see an essential need for a season ticket any longer. Having then the assurance that they can buy match by match and still get in.
Even if more or less filling the stadium each week, far more fans paying match by match means you then have a far more reactive ‘customer’ base. Back in the days when the vast majority didn’t have season tickets, you could get big differences in crowds match by match, then if something happened that the fans didn’t like (usually the team being rubbish and/or nothing to play for), people would vote with their feet.
Once you reach a point where Mike Ashley has no certainty on crowds, the fans will be well on their way to getting what they want. How you manage to get to that point is the big question.