Mike Ashley was the focus of a double protest eight days ago.

The international break giving Newcastle fans the idea of using the football-free weekend to demonstrate against his refusal (unless you honestly believe he is trying…) to sell Newcastle United.

The Magpie Group organising a protest at the Shirebrook Sports Direct HQ, whilst working in tandem, The London Magpie Group were simultaneously going to be protesting outside the Sports Direct flagship store on Oxford Street, as well as Lillywhites and KBA (Keith Bishop Associates).

The London protest went really well, got very good feedback from Newcastle fans overall, plus decent coverage in the media.

The Shirebrook HQ one, not quite so well.

We (The Mag) put out a final call to arms on that Saturday morning (17 November), reminding Newcastle supporters of the two protests and if they were in the area(s) and fancied getting involved, to go along and help.

Not so long after that final call to arms went up, we had conversations with two different people who got in touch, informing us that the Shirebrook HQ protest wasn’t actually happening, which all seemed a bit bizarre as we had seen nothing saying this was the case. I even checked on the Magpie Group Twitter account and nothing at all there.

We had no doubt though that the two sources were on the money and put something up on The Mag warning that the Shirebrook protest wasn’t going ahead, though with it being mid-morning by then, anybody who was going to be heading there would have already set off.

Sure enough, at least four people had turned up to support those travelling from the north east. Two from Northamptonshire, somebody who had driven from 30 miles away, as well as another who had cycled from nearby Bolsover.

After the intended protest meet up time had passed, the Magpie Group claimed that the cancelled protest was due to extra security Mike Ashley had employed at his SD HQ, which didn’t make a lot of sense. There were also claims it had simply been a hoax to cause hassle to Ashley in terms of having to waste time/money employing the extra security, which also didn’t really convince. Only to eventually, in a question and answer with the Chronicle last Sunday, appear to admit that the cancelled protest was due to lack of numbers willing to travel.

The thing is, asking (most) people to spend the time and money to do a 300 mile round trip on their day off to protest outside the Sports Direct HQ, was always going to be ambitious and a a hard sell.

No shame in just being honest and saying there hadn’t been enough support for the idea and then publicising the fact it was cancelled.

Or indeed just going ahead with the hardcore still willing to travel (I understand there were around 20 or so still up for going down from Newcastle) and meeting up with whoever turned up that was more local (to Shirebrook). Things like this are always a token protest anyway, you are never going to get thousands turning up as is the case with ones on matchday etc.

There is one big problem with The Magpie Group and it was kind of summed up by their response, when it became known that at least four ‘locals’ had still turned up at the Shirebrook protest.

They put a comment up on Twitter saying they thought they had covered all bases by putting out a message (the day before the protest) on Twitter, asking those intending to go to contact them, via Twitter…

This gets to the heart of their problem, communication.

Yes they have made the odd mistake and there has been the odd daft loose comment from those involves in The Magpie Group – but it is the way they are communicating, or not as the case may be, which is limiting the impact and reach of the protests.

They seem to think that solely using Twitter is some magical way of reaching the Newcastle United fanbase.

However, whilst Twitter is a decent tool that can help get the message across, the reality is that only a minority of Newcastle fans use Twitter AND only a tiny minority of those will ever see any particular Tweet that goes out.

The Magpie Group HAVE to get their message out to a far wider audience AND explain better, on a regular basis, what is happening and why.

The Magpie Group was formed over four months ago and here at The Mag we have had only one press release/communication from them in that entire time.

Now I’m sure it is not a personal thing and so I have to assume that nobody else has had more than that one token communication in all that time.

A press release should be going out at least once a week, more often when something is happening. Sent out to every newspaper, TV station, radio station, journalist, website they can think of.

They already have a press list obviously so it is a really quick and efficient way of getting the message and explanation out there, somebody writing up an few paragraphs of what is happening and why, then trust me, it will get loads of coverage as journalists are by their very nature, lazy.

They need to be spoon-fed, so send them out a press release and sure enough, next thing it will be appearing all over the place with a few lines added.

It is a massive own goal for The Magpie Group to think Twitter can do the whole job, to make matters worse, their website is yet another own goal.

Nothing (hardly) ever gets added and the only thing put up in this entire month so far was this below on 1 November.

mike ashley

As you can see, it is even still advertising the Shirebrook protest that was cancelled.

What kind of message is that sending out to people?

Surely you have to use your own website, or else what is the point?

If anybody from The Magpie Group sees this then I hope they accept it as constructive criticism.

All Newcastle fans want to see the protests succeed and Mike Ashley to sell up but to do that we need to have a structured and cohesive plan to get as many fans as possible onboard.

Take for example the 11th minute protest at the West Ham match, it needs to be explained to supporters exactly what is happening and why.

All I have seen from The Magpie Group is Twitter messages regularly going out saying it is happening but with no real explanation. A very small minority of Newcastle fans will see these Twitter messages.

The messages initially just said for people not to go into the stadium until the 11th minute but then later ones have said to either do that, or instead go into St James Park and then wait on the concourses until the 11th minute before taking your seat.

However, these things need to be explained, how it is going to work and the reasoning behind it.

Most Newcastle fans have very busy lives on top of their Newcastle United addiction and don’t spend their entire day on social media, we need to get the message out there.

Knowledge is power!

  • Leicester Mag

    How about the mag remove the splinters out it’s rs, get off the fence and lead this? Afterall you have the platform to effectively drive this

    • Albert Stubbins

      The mags early publications were at the forefront of the protests against the board and owners. Looks like they’re happy to just be in the background now criticising those who are trying to make a difference. Ironic really.

      • Leazes.

        ….. an alternative voice….to the chronicle…..then as now

      • Pezza

        The independent voice…..they ban anyone who diedoes follow the agenda!

      • tom

        Perhaps the mag have also been given a gift from phatty along with ryder et al

  • BigHairyDog

    The Magpie group for all their enthusiasm have become hamstrung by some members who seem to be on a “power trip”, they seem to be all about doing it their way. The Shirebrook fiasco was absolutely disaster for them, the silence from them on the Friday night before and the Saturday morning of the protest was deafening. One rumour I heard was one of the leaders received a “present” from Ashley to call it off, whether that is true or not….it just muddies the water in Ashley’s favour.

    They need funds to really do this properly, they need banners at every match, not just outside SJP on matchdays. Away matches are significant, unlike home games there will be no stewards to stop them. Why won’t they work with Wor Flags for instance? We could have banners covering SD signs all around the ground.

    As for the boycott what i’m seeing across social media, this will be a damp squib. You simply have too many fans not willing to miss the game, most are going because they don’t think 6000 or 7000 staying away won’t make a difference and they’re probably right. Will it bother Ashley that 5000 fans stay away? I doubt he’d be bothered if 20,000 stayed away if it’s only one match.

  • mactoon

    To organise Newcastle based fans to spend money on going to London then cancel it when their website was down for three days and not tell the fans it was cancelled was stupidity to say the least. I struggle to see what this group is trying to achieve?

    I have emailed them ideas to protest without getting a reply and they seem to be embarrassing themselves by their inaction. Are they actually doing anything other than embarrassing the fan base ?

    • davey dibiaggio


    • Pezza

      There are two ways to get Mike out

      a) find a buyer b) fans buy it via an investment trust

      Ill add aathird way, a combination of a) & b)

      So far, the magpie grouo’s strategy can only discourage buyers.

      • Ram Kishore

        3rd is the best, Swansea model I have always been admirer of that..gives fans a say and check.
        Also makes sure fans don’t cross the line..
        Fans should have a staake of minimum 15 to Max 25.. never more than 25

      • mactoon

        I’ve said this since the Staveley bid. If he wants £300 million and the bidder only offers £250 million then get “The Magpie Group” to contact Staveley and work with her to put out an ‘expression of interest’ to the fans and ask them to commit to investing say £500 each in order to get shares in the club and add it to the potential buyers bid.

        It would take 100,000 investors to make the £50 million shortfall. But to do that you need to get a price from Ashley, something that no one has managed to do yet.

        • Pezza

          I agree

          • mactoon

            The problem as I see it is that Staveley is merely a broker. She contacts backers to see if they are willing to form a consortium and provide the funds required to buy the club. Unfortunately Ashley hasn’t come up with a definitive price (despite reports that he has, it is all just guesswork with no actual quote from Ashley. He has reportedly said “make me an offer”, probably because he doesn’t want to state a price in case a buyer will offer him more)

            The fact Ashley called Staveley’s bid a waste of time then said he wants any future buyer to show proof they have the money, indicates to me she didn’t have the funds available. This is further evidenced by the story that the Reuben brothers were approached by her and they said they would not be involved in the takeover.

            Now I see the magpie group’s task as getting to the bottom of this ‘bid’ and seeing if there is anyway they can help revive it, possibly with the help of fan investment.

          • Pezza


          • mactoon

            Two added complications are:

            1. Sports Direct have a big hold on the advertising and merchandise side of the club and I have no doubt these contracts will be transferrable with any sale of the club which means any new owners will have to honour the current terms and this will severely hamper any attempts to increase money made in these areas.

            2. Ashley has also stated any bid must contain proof that the new owners can progress the club on and off the pitch which would add a further £200 million? in order to update the squad, facilities and academy (Ironic given that Ashley refuses to do this and is probably another caveat intended to put any potential buyer off)

            The last we heard from Staveley was that her bid was for £250 million, no clauses and contained a further £200 million to be used for these purposes after the sale had taken place, £100 million for the facilities and academy and £100 million spread over the first 2 transfer windows.

            She says the bid is still on the table waiting for Ashley to re engage but this hasn’t happened.

          • Pezza

            The advertising is pretty easy, if it’s been free, there will be no compensation to get out of the contract unless it’s written into the merchandise agreement.

            Merchandise isn’t going to be a hurdle. We need someone to do it and SD are as good as anyone. Going in-house bucks the trend, is expensive and unlikely to offer better profitability.

          • mactoon

            I think you may be trivialising the problems caused by SD. I’ve no doubt the advertising is tied down for a number of years and at the fans forum they mentioned SD were now paying for it (don’t expect the going rate there!) so expect transferable clauses tying the club to it. And the merchandising depends on the terms of the agreement, Rangers got 7p for every strip sold, if the same agreement is in place at Newcastle you can guarantee a new owner will want to get out of it. Rangers had to take him to court.

            Both are areas a new owner will want to exploit to get maximum income and SD involvement will prevent that.

          • Pezza

            I’ll edit this, the Mag block me

          • mactoon

            Rangers have such a good deal that they want to sign a new deal with a third party to get away from SD. lawyers representing the two sides were back at the court in October.

            This is still ongoing with Rangers chairman saying earlier today, “Sports Direct has done its best to disrupt our retail operations. They have consistently failed in their bullying tactics. It’s something we have to oppose. These are hundreds of thousands of pounds of orders (they have raised) against us.”

            Hardly the actions of a respected retail partner, if the club is sold I expect the new owners will want to cut ties with them and they (SD) wouldn’t hesitate to diminish the club’s finances through court action.

          • Pezza

            It’s the actions of a retailer with a contract. Rangers signed a deal and clearly hadn’t read what they signed..

          • mactoon

            And we, as a club didn’t have the chance to sign a contract with SD which benefited the club because ashley no doubt made sure it benefited SD over the club’s needs.

          • Pezza

            We, as a club, have signed a deal with SD which benefits the club.

            Ashley does not strike me as a philanthropist. Why would he sign a deal that favours a company where he owns 55% of the shares at the expense of a company he owns outright.

          • mactoon

            Because SD is his primary interest and the company where he makes most of his money, the same reason he allowed them the benefit of free advertising for over 10 years.

          • Pezza

            I can see

  • davey dibiaggio

    Nobody turned up to the shirebrook job cos they not really that bothered, people spouting off hoping others will go,which they won’t, total waste of time. I for one will be in my seat at 3 pm against West ham and wolves and every other home game at that . Support the team and get ya heads out ya arses

    • DZA

      That’s why nothing will change as you are happy to support Ashley and not make a stand :( supporting the team so far hasn’t helped get rid of Ashley. It’s time to boycott more than one or two games.

      • davey dibiaggio

        I’m not supporting Ashley I’m supporting the team, two different things altogether. I’m not paying money to sit at home I love going to the ground and love matchdays. If ya look at our last two wins it’s no surprise that we won when nothing was going on outside the ground against Bournemouth, also the win against Watford there wasn’t really many protesters there ( which we won) not like the first one they put in, it’s fizzling out rather than gaining momentum, bet there’s still 49/49 thousand against wolves, and will not be noticeable on TV, also the fact that season tickets are already payed for either yearly orby direct debit isn’t really hitting Ashley anywhere is it. Why don’t people have some real balls and cancel their direct debits altogether till he’s gone. Oh wait

        • Superdooperhooper

          I see bishop’s pr team are working late tonight . Hope you’re getting more than minimum wage

          • davey dibiaggio

            Do you have a season ticket and are you boycotting?

          • Superdooperhooper

            No haven’t been to a game in ten years because of that fat scoundrel

          • davey dibiaggio

            After the Keegan crack? Good for you mate all I’m saying is if people want to waste their time boycotting and damaging our chances of survival this year than so be it. I’m Newcastle United through and through I support the team not the regime

          • Toon


          • davey dibiaggio

            Some boy toon

          • Pezza

            Did you go week in week out before KK left?

        • DZA

          Your statement is what is wrong with some supporters who are happy to go along with it all. It’s time for change and time to make a stand but you always get one who is happy to go along with the ashley and his fan club :( Sad times. At the end of the day, you cannot moan as you are apart of the problem who not willing to make a stand to make a difference and at least try and force Ashley hand to sell up and move on.

          • davey dibiaggio

            I’m not in Ashley’s fan club mate

          • DZA

            But you are apart of the problem why ashley is still here and not willing to do anything about it but give him your money.

          • davey dibiaggio

            What’s your story then ?

  • Leazes.

    It didn’t really need another inquest did it….I thought Mark Jensen did an admirable job of summarising. I see that all you have done is given some idiot troll a platform to sneer!

    A lot of these ideas that people threw into the pot for protest weren’t going to work anyway but the important thing is its not the end point….. there isn’t an end point with this owner…..

    ……this is a club with problems and we have to work around some of them…. a change in the law ultimately has to be the goal…. we aren’t the only fans who have been carpetbagged by owners with no link to the club they own….. we are the worst example though.

    If we can all just make one thing a priority then let it be a large enough stay away to be noticed, and to be a poll of those who care about the club and its future…..

    …..It was a good non turn out against spurs…. it was very noticeable too, this should be a bigger statement…. those who do go in are of course free to walk out early too…. and that will be an extra statement…..

    it doesn’t matter what you do so long as you do something….. I’m going to the pub


  • Themoscow72

    The Magpie Group are on the brink and after Wolves will be no more. The writing will be on the wall this weekend with the West Ham game.

    • StMichael

      where have you come from? Just seen some of your comments. Glad someone else is awake. I thought I was a voice in the wilderness?!! Well done selling those tickets lets hope we can hammer the hammers on Saturday and the protestors miss an early goal!