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Opinion

Mike Ashley to set new Newcastle United friendly record crowd today?

11 months ago
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Pre-season friendlies have fallen into a very similar routine under Mike Ashley.

Playing a number of matches away against poor to average quality teams in England and abroad, before rounding things off with a token match at St James Park against usually mediocre unattractive opposition from overseas.

This summer followed a very similar path, although maybe Porto away was slightly better than usual, presumably that invite down to the Sir Bobby Robson connection (having managed both).

As for the home match this time, we have Augsburg, a mediocre German team that have finished 13th and 12th these past two seasons.

Usually these games depend on the real diehards, parents with very young kids, and the odd fan just desperate for their fix.

Since Kevin Keegan left, Newcastle have only twice had crowds of 20,000+ for any home friendly.

The Rafa Benitez effect meaning a crowd of 23,000 last summer against a nondescript Hellas Verona side, whilst after the money was spent in summer 2015, they scraped 21,000 against Borussia Monchengladbach.

A far cry from the 31,494 that turned up to watch Kevin Keegan’s team play Valencia in summer 2008.

Summer 2007 actually had over 87,000 watching pre-season games at St James Park after Mike Ashley took over. Obviously games arranged before Mike Ashley bought the club, NUFC played Sampdoria, Celtic and Juventus in pre-season, a midweek crowd of 30,000 against Celtic and 34,000 when Juventus visited.

With Mike Ashley doing everything he can to turn people away from Newcastle United, it will be interesting to see how many turn up in the sunshine this afternoon.

The lowest so far under Mike Ashley was when only 12,656 turned up against Fiorentina in summer 2011, interesting if a new low is reached today…

Pre-season friendlies at St James Park:

30,225 v Celtic – 2007

34,016 v Juventus – 2007

23,078 v Sampdoria – 2007

13,477 v PSV – 2008

31,494 v Valencia – 2008

16,945 v Leeds – 2009

16,118 v PSV – 2010

12,656 v Fiorentina – 2011

No game – 2012

16,187 v Braga 2013

19,188 v Real Sociedad – 2014

21,088 v Borussia Monchengladbach – 2015

18,307 v Vitesse Arnhem – 2016

23,906 v Hellas Verona – 2017

2018?
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