The official Newcastle United Fans Forum has given us a small window into the workings of the Mike Ashley regime over recent years.

Not that we ever find out anything useful through it, or if we do, it is usually by accident.

More so it is the way that Ashley and his people put so much effort into spinning it, that is the really interesting thing.

Like a lot of the things that go on at the club under this owner, you end up taking things as the norm because they have gone on so long, people lost track of what should happen – as it does at normal football clubs and in the rest of society and other organisations

The Newcastle United Fans Forum is just bizarre.

It is no big deal elsewhere, supporters going along and asking questions of the people who run their club, giving them feedback, especially ideas on how to improve certain aspects of the way their particular club is run.

It isn’t rocket science and many clubs now stream live their fans forum or make it available for viewing via video footage later. Alternatively, they quickly produce a full and frank report of their meetings, covering the areas of particular interest to the wider fanbase.

At Newcastle United, it has become a real political football, everything so cloak and dagger with the poor unfortunates who have volunteered to take part, caught in a no man’s land between a club who are showing them zero respect appreciations & clearly just using them and fans on the outside, many of who have various levels of unrealistic expectations as to what NUFC Fans Forum members can realistically deliver.

One of my mates is currently a member (and regretting it!) of the Newcastle United Fans Forum and I know another member reasonably well. I contacted them both earlier today and by lunchtime on Tuesday (2 October 2018) they still hadn’t received the draft minutes from the last meeting.

That meeting was eight days ago on Monday 24 September 2018.

Draft minutes are sent by the club to the Newcastle fans (and club officials presumably) who were at the meeting and then they send back any comments, pointing out any inaccuracies etc, then the final minutes are published so everybody can see.

In all my working life, and social, I have never known anything like what happens with NUFC and these minutes.

Just to check what the norm is for what happens with minutes from a meeting, I looked to see what was typically included in minutes of any meeting and what the usual procedure is.

These seem to be what most sources agree to be the norm:

‘Minutes, also known as minutes of meeting (abbreviation MoM), protocols or, informally, notes, are the instant written record of a meeting or hearing. They typically describe the events of the meeting and may include a list of attendees, a statement of the issues considered by the participants, and related responses or decisions for the issues.’

‘Distribute meeting minutes promptly. Prepare minutes of a meeting soon after it ends so that attendees receive them within 24 hours. Hold them accountable for reviewing the record of proceedings and alerting you to any corrections or modifications immediately.’

As has been my experience of meetings in my work/social life, the draft minutes are sent out ASAP, almost always within 24 hours. People have got plenty else going on in their lives so of course you need to have the meeting fresh in your mind as to remember what was and wasn’t discussed/decided.

As for what to include, it isn’t difficult, just a factual replay of what went on – who was there, what was discussed, what was decided, any comments of particular note, and just generally anything and everything deemed of importance by those taking part.

Why should the Newcastle United Fans Forum be any different? I wouldn’t care, but compared to many other meetings in other arenas, fans talking to a football club isn’t even marginally important, especially of course when the club doesn’t treat those giving up their time with any respect.

Somebody at the Fans Forum is obviously taking notes as the meeting goes on, so no reason at all why those notes can’t be quickly turned into the draft minutes. Certainly they should be put together and sent out by the next day, or in reality, this could even be done before the fans forum members even make it home.

After all, it is just a factual record of what went on, isn’t it?

Well of course not, instead of just honestly and openly letting everybody know what was discussed and said, what we do get is clearly some kind of process whereby those working for Mike Ashley then decide what they want to be included in, and left out of, the minutes, and how it is all going to be represented.

This is how small-time our club is, so much effort to avoid awkward questions and issues being put into the public domain.

The club don’t of course have to answer any particular question, maybe they have a valid reason for not answering certain ones.

However, the NUFC fanbase should be able to know anything and everything of importance that was asked and discussed.

Newcastle United Fans Forum members should be able to ask that anything they deem important should be minuted and included in the official public minutes, if the majority of those present at the meeting agree.

For example, the club might not be willing to answer questions such as the following BUT we should be told if they were asked AND that the club refused/declined to give an answer:

What role has Justin Barnes got at Newcastle United?

If you buy something from the official NUFC online shop, how much of that money goes to the club and how much to Sports Direct?

Mike Ashley promised Rafa Benitez ‘every penny’ to spend in the transfer market, how can that be squared with a significant net surplus on transfers in and out this summer?

What justification is there for season ticket price rises at a time when the vast majority of clubs are keeping theirs the same AND at a time when Newcastle are having less than zero net spend in the transfer market?

Why do Newcastle United not have a proper functioning board, instead of Lee Charnley being the only named director?

The way that Mike Ashley and his minions control the Newcastle United Fans Forum, simply confirms to supporters that there is so much that they want to keep hidden away.

Why they are so frightened of being seen to be asked awkward questions and then refusing to answer them.

This is also why Lee Charnley is never allowed to give open interviews to the media where they can ask him whatever they want, the same of course with those that Mike Ashley really has running the show for him, such as Justin Barnes, who will never be allowed to be quizzed on goings on at Newcastle United.

The club even refused to let the Fans Forum meet throughout the whole of last season, until the team were finally safe from relegation, to avoid awkward questions regarding Mike Ashley and the treatment of Rafa Benitez, the forum meeting in June 2017 and then not again until April 2018.

The whole club is just a sham and always will be until finally we see the back of Mike Ashley.

I would never criticise any supporters for getting involved in the Newcastle United Fans Forum but Mike Ashley and his minions are clearly playing them for fools, just like they are the many tens of thousands of us who simply want to be proud of our club.

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  • bob0411

    Just asked the same question on another of today’s articles. This smells like a week old dead fish!

  • FatParosite

    It was ALWAYS unrealistic to expect ANYTHING from these tickbox meetings. Anyone involved is either culpable by their involvement or unforgivably naive.

    • bob0411

      I’d like to read an update from Jon Lane, bet he’s feeling pretty embarrassed right now!

    • Pezza

      Have you ever spoken to one? Who’s your rep? Depending on your seat, home, away, old,young, disabled, blind. There is a rep for everyone and if there is not, put yourself forward.

  • Fisherking

    I nar where yi cumin from but that dun me heed in

    • Kenny

      Must ask leazes to define that dialect

      • Leazes.

        I blocked that one months ago…. second post.

        • Kenny

          Thanks for the heads up. i guessed it was an idiot

          • Fisherking

            Forgot that I’m not allowed to make comments on this site because I actually go to games unlike some on here

          • Ashley-out

            you want to throw your money away that`s up to you

          • Pezza

            Ha, Kenny you do make me laugh.

  • Kenny

    Waste of time & space, the idiot Penfold knows nothing anyway, he is there as a figurehead to mind the store for the Rat.

  • Paul Patterson

    The simplest way to avoid telling the truth, is to say nothing at all.
    Failing that, if you don’t want something unsavoury getting out into the public, delete it from record . .

    • Leazes.

      Ah that’s why Charnley hides!

  • Leazes.

    Its an isolated little group who hide…..

    A forum should have formality but they’ve put it in a straightjacket, I said a couple of weeks ago all they had to do destroy it was load it with people like Gareth Beard who could probably single handedly waste everyone’s time for an hour and a bit by stifling any questions or examination, by prattling on about nothing or their own little quibbles….

    …and as the club get to choose their representatives who is to say they haven’t placed a stooge or two in the midst…. there’s not a lot of Northumbrian names on that panel.

    Maybe the representatives should hold their own meeting excluding the club and present the questions in the form of a letter!

    ….enclosing a Stamped addressed envelope!….

    …..It might be quicker!

    • Pezza

      The club don’t pick the reos, why not put yourself up? You can be the setee end rep.

      • Ashley-out

        they haven’t the IQ to keep up with him, nor do you.

        • Pezza

          Leazes’? He blocks anyone with a higher iq than himself, he’s thick as poo.

          • Ashley-out

            i read a previous post of his a while back, he blocks trolls and idiots, you are both.

          • Pezza

            So many have utterly destroyed him, personally I’ve caught him many times and outed him as a liar.

            He blocks anyone with whom he doesn’t feel superior. He’s left with the likes of Kenny, Micky love, Wezza, Jezza etc. He’s got more confident since they culled the academics on here.

          • Ashley-out

            says the man of many names, blocked.

          • Benji

            grow up bell end

          • Pezza

            What was I saying about blocking people with greater intellect?

          • Pezza

            I have one name currently, I’d like to have my old name but, well, you work it out.

          • Ram Kishore

            Pezza isn’t wrong about Leazes about leazes being a bit narrow minded, calling others idiots, blocking them or calling them a troll when they supposedly have a totally different view or opinion.

          • Ashley-out

            many times i have a different opinion to him & i am not blocked, he blocks troll and idiots, pezza is both

          • Ram Kishore

            He did post a comment sometime back saying he’s blocking me.
            It was after I posted a comment saying Chronicle was doing a decent job when it comes to certain reports regarding the club.
            I remember the time when they released a exclusive about Rafa being offered contract extension, the player protest. If I remember right it was them releasing that info right after the Braga match.

          • Ashley-out

            the chron bows to Ashley all the time, some of their articles are a disgrace, it also slags off players like Mitrovic & last season even had a go at Shelvey, a sad state of affairs for a local newspaper, it also supplies the Mirror with some very dubious reports.

          • Ram Kishore

            I live in India, I read Newcastle related news from Chronicle once in a while and refer to sky or BBC about Newcastle , so get my point right.. that I may not have a great knowledge about how Chronicle’s reports are.
            So I said their reports were ok
            on few occasions. So I get a comment ‘u r blocked’.
            Doesn’t this show he’s a narrow minded fellow. I have had disagreements with Jezza on many occasions.. But he never blocked me. Yeah I do know what’s a troll or an idiot is.

      • Big Hairy Man

        They must be approved by the club. What a joke.

        • Pezza

          Approved by the members, like all meetings. Members have the minutes now and will be published subject to their approval.

  • Dillon Tovak

    Ashley cannot be shamed further, he is at maximum shame every second of every day.

  • Ashley-out

    Die you fat parasite

  • mactoon

    At the end of the day if the draft minutes do not reflect the actual meeting or omits sections of it, it should be raised with NUFC. If the minutes are then published in the same state, it should be exposed. It only takes one fan representative to do it and if they are then banned, another should take on the fight. If it continues, the problem should be raised with the authorities that state the club should have open and honest conversations via the forums.

    • NUFCLX

      I contacted the PL regarding the end of season report the club have to send to them regarding Fans Forums etc. I asked if the fans could view this report, below is their reply. For me the PL are just as bad as the club.

      I’m afraid we are unable to share copies of reports generated under R.5. These are produced as part of an assessment process conducted on behalf of the league and our clubs and which are used for development purposes, however the reports are shared only with clubs for their use. Clubs produce information for supporters on their policies and services, so it may be worth contacting them to see what they can share. Club services and feedback from supporters also forms part of discussions at fans forums and other club meetings.

      Kind regards
      Tommy

      • mactoon

        I would respond stating what NUFC and more importantly Ashley are doing which sails against the wind of what the PL are trying to do

  • wheyayeman

    Hide duck avoid silence lies and repeat!

  • Pezza

    Why not wait for the minutes to be published or join the forum if you care so much

    • Big Hairy Man

      The creatively controlled minutes

  • Ashley-out

    Trolls are starting to emerge again. maybe they will die when the parasite does just like a blood sucking vampires followers do. hope so.

    • Leazes.

      You can ask its mate Brian Standen if they’ve all been on holiday together!

  • Leazes.

    When Mike Ashley took over here, Bournemouth were 21st in League Two. Ten years on we can’t compete with them….
    Geordie Rob

    • BigHairyDog

      But they’re owned by a country and Mike won’t compete with countries…oh wait

  • Paul Patterson

    The minutes from the latest fans forum meeting:

    We at the club accept that everything isn’t great, but we hope that because we have Rafa a World Class manager at a huge club, we can have a good season and despite the poor start, tiny steps are needed and despite the massively scaled back recruitment, we all need to pull together as that’s the only way we can fight off the worry of relegation. Mike Ashley is feeling the fans pain and also has other interests and the club and fans aren’t his priority and SD will be his top priority..

    The released minutes:

    The club have a World Class manager in Rafa, we are a huge club that has made massive steps in recruitment, we needn’t worry, Mike feels the fans interests and share their pain- they will continue to be his top priority . .

    It’s all wordplay . .

  • Down Under Mag

    The club is run more as a dictatorship, even bordering on a money launderer looking at it from the outside and the lack of board, transparency and cohesion in the running of things. We do not resemble a normal business or even a normal football club in the slightest.

  • Pezza

    Dean, you can ask your rep to make those questions, far better than bury them in an obscure website.

    What role has Justin Barnes got at Newcastle United? – I believe he provides consultancy at the cost of SD.

    If you buy something from the official NUFC online shop, how much of that money goes to the club and how much to Sports Direct? – obviously, it’s a confidential commercial agreement but the club responded to Channel 4, dispatched (reported in this very website) “The only money paid by the club to Sports Direct is for the stock (at cost price), plus a handling fee. This represents far better value than the costs the club historically incurred in relation to purchasing, storage and distribution”.

    The club added: “In simple terms, the club receives more money as a result of this relationship”.

    Mike Ashley promised Rafa Benitez ‘every penny’ to spend in the transfer market, how can that be squared with a significant net surplus on transfers in and out this summer?

    Rafa must not have been able to buy all the players he wanted, the money was there.

    What justification is there for season ticket price rises at a time when the vast majority of clubs are keeping theirs the same AND at a time when Newcastle are having less than zero net spend in the transfer market?

    The biggest cost on marchday is staff, minimum wage has shot up. Also, the increase was 3%, those who saw a larger increase had benefitted from previous price freezes.

    Why do Newcastle United not have a proper functioning board, instead of Lee Charnley being the only named director?

    What the club saves in staff means money can be spent in other areas.

    I’m not the club btw.