Newcastle United have reached rock bottom this season. Apart from the fans who still stream through the gates of St James Park on a Saturday, the club is devoid of anything that makes it a recognisable football club.
There is no point arguing that relegation or a fan boycott would destroy Newcastle United because Mike Ashley has already done that. The simple fact is that the Newcastle United we know and love does not exist at the moment. The only way to get it back, is to drive Mike Ashley out of the club.
Fans of some other clubs may not understand our reasons for protesting so vehemently against Ashley. Indeed supporters of sides such as Blackpool, where the Oyston family have destroyed the club, or Portsmouth, where a succession of shambolic owners drove the club down to League 2 and near bankruptcy, may argue that Newcastle United could be a lot worse off.
There may be worse owners out there than Ashley; there may be owners who have caused their football clubs to almost cease to exist. However, it is almost unprecedented for an owner to drain the spirit out of a once proud football club in the way Ashley has. Like a vampire with its helpless prey, Ashley has sucked the life and soul out of Newcastle United in almost every possible way.
The playing team has become almost unwatchable, every Saturday we witness 90 minutes of grim, negative battle for survival rather than any attempt to entertain or win a football match.
Off the pitch as well, the tentacles of the Ashley empire are felt almost everywhere.
From the moment 10 years ago when Newcastle legend Kevin Keegan was patronised, disrespected and treated as a rebellious schoolboy rather than a respected football manager, Ashley has been on a mission to destroy anything resembling the identity of Newcastle United and create a soulless, money grabbing entity in his own image.
Throughout the Alan Pardew years every player who thrilled the crowds at St James Park was quickly sold on. Since then, the money and will to invest in the club has dried up completely. The only time Ashley has shown any interest in investing in the club was following relegation in 2016, when Newcastle were in danger of missing out on the financial rewards of an immediate return to the Premier League.
In reality, money is the only thing Ashley cares about. Newcastle fans can demonstrate and shout and sing as much as they like, it will have no effect on him. One only has to witness the owner laughing in the directors box at St James Park as the choruses of “Get out of our club” rained down from the stands, to realise how little effect this form of protest has on him. The only way the fans will ever rid our great club of this man is to hit him where it hurts, in his pocket.
It is debatable whether a boycott will really work; many fans will still turn up at St James Park regardless of the situation, as it is a way of life. The Wolves boycott however, is a good idea and must be tried.
Above all though, Newcastle fans must not give any more money to Mike Ashley. While fans protest outside Sports Direct and St James Park, but still buy the latest replica kit or training wear, then Ashley will be laughing all the way to the bank.
Every true Newcastle fan is the real heart and soul of the club and we must send a message to Mike Ashley and to the wider world, that we are sick of what our club has become.
We are sick of the lies and patronising press releases and sick of the clowns such as Llambias, Jimenez and Charnley who have been entrusted with the stewardship of our club.
We are sick of the turgid football and lack of investment in our team.
We are sick of the grubby deals that have cast a shadow on our club and the payday loan sharks and Chinese betting companies that have ruined that beautiful black and white shirt.
We are sick of being owned by a man who runs his companies in the style of a Victorian workhouse.
We are sick of the “Sports Direct Arena”, Joe Kinnear, Alan Pardew, Dennis Wise and everything else that has dragged the reputation of our club through the mud in the last 10 years.
Above all, we are sick of Mike Ashley and we know that Newcastle United will never truly be Newcastle United again till he leaves.
If we stick together, refuse to turn on each other and show that unbreakable spirit that has kept the club going through good times and bad, then one day we will win.
As Kevin Keegan, a man who has more experience than most of Ashley’s lies, said ;
“Don’t ever give up on your club. Keep supporting it, it’s your club and trusts me, one day you will get your club back and it will be everything you wanted it to be.
“Newcastle United is bigger than anyone. It hurts I know, but just keep going. He is only one man; we are a city, a whole population. Trust me.”
You can follow the author on Twitter @BillCrawford87