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Opinion

When was the last time Newcastle fans failed to sell out 5 games in a row? The cracks are already here

8 months ago
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Newcastle fans are sick of it.

The cracks have been papered over fairly well so far but you don’t have to pick away too deeply to see that things are changing.

I have already written about the tickets/crowds so far this season and that picture is growing.

Once again, it isn’t that apparent to the casual observer but the truth is there if you look for it.

Newcastle fans are sick of everything really.

Rafa Benitez has kept us going for the past couple of years, holding thing together pretty much, but what is there to look forward to at the minute?

No sign of Mike Ashley changing (obviously) or selling up, every chance (all but certain) that Rafa will leave within the next 10 months, an understrength and under-invested squad, whilst as for the football…

Even Newcastle fans have their breaking point.

Last summer the club announced there had been a sell out of season tickets, fans supporting Rafa and his squad despite the meagre transfer funds made available to the manager.

The sheer number of season ticket holders ensuring  that the incredible 51,000+ average in the Championship was improved on again, though obviously within the confines of the fact St James Park holds only just over 52,000 fans.

The lowest crowd last season for a Premier League home match was 50,174 when Burnley were the visitors on January transfer deadline day, very apt. Mike Ashley refusing to allow Rafa Benitez to buy and players and the club in the middle of yet another Ashley-inspired relegation battle.

I think it is guaranteed we will see a number of crowds below that 50,174 figure, maybe significantly so.

This summer thousands of season tickets were left unsold.

Last season the Spurs home game was sold out 17 days in advance, this time the Tottenham match didn’t even sell out. Not by a massive amount but the crowd was under fifty two thousand (51,749).

The Chelsea game the same scenario, last season sold out well in advance, this time didn’t sell out (51,791).

On the road, nobody has a better away support than Newcastle United, in my opinion, some maybe are as good but putting everything together (rubbish team, Ashley, poor football, rarely win, geography/distance) there are certainly none better.

However, Cardiff away wasn’t sold out, Forest away wasn’t sold out, and now Man City away hasn’t sold out.

Five matches in a row where Newcastle fans haven’t bought up all their tickets, when was the last time this happened?!!

You can give various reasons but for all five to not be sold out, tells you everything.

It was still amazing support at both Cardiff and Forest, as well as anybody daft enough (in a good way!) to be going to Man City (Newcastle are 28/1 to win!!).

After all, Rafa even told us in advance of Forest that basically doing anything in the cups is an impossibility this season, whilst not a single Newcastle fan will be travelling to the ETihad believing there is any chance of getting anything, plus knowing they will be watching our team defend for 90 minutes.

Imagine just for a second, if you were meeting somebody who knew nothing at all about Newcastle United, especially the current situation, and you had the job of convincing them to pay money to come and watch us? At a time when the club made a massive £20m+ profit in the summer and yet still put season ticket prices up by up to over 20% compared to last season.

Before Rafa Benitez arrived, Newcastle were regularly playing to crowds in the 40,000s under Steve McClaren, and indeed even the likes of a home game against Man Utd saw a crowd under 50,000.

Indeed, Ashley had dragged things so low over a period of time, even once Rafa arrived we still saw a crowd of only 46,424 for a key relegation match against Man City at home.

The hope inspired by and loyalty to Rafa Benitez, have blinded many people to what was a clear downward trend previously. Only the presence of Rafa has fooled so many into thinking full houses are all but guaranteed.

Arsenal at home usually sells out instantly, tickets rarely getting to the public sale stage. This time, with two weeks to go, you can get tickets all around St James Park and this is after the tickets went on general sale towards the start of this week.

At the moment we are seeing only hundreds of empty seats at home but unless something seriously changes for the better (results, the football, Rafa committing to a new contract, Ashley leaving/selling, all of these….), nobody will be able to ignore the fact that thousands of Newcastle fans have had enough already.

With Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal, they all brought (will bring) the full 3,200+ away following.

However, you only have to look ahead to mid-October and a run of three home games in a three week stretch against Brighton, Watford and Bournemouth.

Minimal numbers of away fans and expecting thousands of match by match ticket buyers making up the season ticket shortfall is very unlikely.

Five thousand or so empty seats a few matches in a row should be a wake up call for even Mike Ashley.

The migration of supporters sick of Ashley has already started, the only question now is whether he will be prepared in any way to halt that?

Selling up or making his peace with Rafa and a proper commitment to back him, starting in the January window, are the obvious answers for Newcastle United to be able to start again and attempt to rebuild properly.

Otherwise this club is only heading in one direction, both on and off the pitch.
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