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Opinion

Where does the Magpie Group go from here?

1 year ago
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With no football this weekend, there was always the chance we could be in for a quiet one. However, we all should know that is never the case with Newcastle United, is it?

This weekend was supposed to be a positive one for the Magpie Group and the protests against Mike Ashley. Two protests were supposed to take place, one at Shirebrook and one in London. Only the latter actually took place.

To be honest, taking the Shirebrook protest at face value, it is not really a surprise that there was such little interest.

Perhaps in hindsight, which is an easy thing, the organisers should have noted earlier just how difficult it is to persuade people to give up their own valuable spare time to protest. It is hard enough getting people away from their extra pint in the pub at half two on a match day, so it was always going to be pretty impossible to tear them away from their family for a full day, on their only day off, to travel 180 miles to a warehouse in the freezing cold, to well, shout at it.

Of course, there isn’t much you can do in other areas of the UK, as the masses simply don’t care about Newcastle United. This is one reason why I believe protests should place more of an emphasis on Sports Direct, their morals and practices in the workplace. This is something that the London Magpie Group have done successfully so far with a protest at Sports Direct on Oxford Street, outside KBA Agency, as well as meetings with MPs in parliament.

Rather than making the trip to Shirebrook, the Magpie Group instead visited a few Sports Direct stores across the region. I have to be honest, I am still surprised by just how full the stores are every time that I walk past one. I don’t think that there is any doubt that if the Sports Direct stores in the Newcastle area were empty, or at least suffered a financial hit, then it would have somewhat of an impact on Ashley. Likewise, if a significant amount of people, lets say 50,000-70,000 no longer contributed to online sales then it would have a further impact.

Don’t get me wrong, this is the long game, and little things will matter. Despite the setbacks, fans must keep up the pressure. In my opinion, they must continue to back the Magpie Group when keeping up that pressure. A focal point is needed, and the Magpie Group are already well established, so why go back to square one?

Obviously though, I can’t write an article about the Magpie Group and not address the elephant in the room which is the s… show that was the cancellation of the trip to Shirebrook, which not only let down members, but most importantly let down at least four fellow Mags who made the trip to Shirebrook without knowing that the Magpie Group organisers had decided not to go ahead with that protest after all.

Honesty should always be the best policy. From my own sources, I can say with almost certainty, that the trip wasn’t cancelled because of security concerns, or because Ashley had put extra security at the planned protest site. This isn’t true. So why lie to fans? You lose accountability when combatting Ashley for lying to the fans, when the group itself lied to fans on Saturday morning and continued to do so throughout the day.

The Magpie Group should display the same ethics and principles to their members that they expect from Mike Ashley as owner of Newcastle United – 100% honesty would be a start.

I would question under the current leadership of the Magpie Group whether they have any interest in getting all of the fans onside. At the moment, I believe that the Magpie Group only wants members who are like-minded and share the same beliefs as their own. Is there space for those that don’t push the exact same agenda? I don’t think so.

One of the reasons I say this, and the reason I suggest the Magpie Group is somewhat of a clique mentality, is that I understand they (unlike the London Magpie Group) have not once got in touch with The Mag to support the protests. When the group was formed (mainly via twitter accounts), The Mag was ignored.

To my knowledge, The Mag is the largest NUFC fan-based media with the largest following, so why ignore The Mag? We all have the same end goal, to rid Newcastle of Mike Ashley. We all want to help. The Mag is only informed of protests via sources, or searching on Twitter, rather than receiving anything official from the leadership.

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

We all want to help.

I have always said, in regards to Newcastle United, that if the owner can get the fans on board then you are already 50% of the way there. The same goes for the Magpie Group. Get the fans on board and you’re halfway there.

The same goes for the local media. Where are they right now? To my knowledge, and I am sure they will correct me if this is wrong, but they haven’t done anything to seriously support the protest movements. Mark Douglas has turned up at the Magpie Group meetings, but aside from that, I am not sure the Chronicle has any interest in helping fans.

Articles put forward by the Chronicle in the past week have been so basic, that require such little research. I have seen more articles with no research or base regarding ‘takeovers’ or how Elias Sorensen may be the next no.9 than I have about Mike Ashley, protests, or strategies to move the club forward. On the topic of getting the fans onside, I don’t believe the Chronicle are even on the side of the fans.

In regards to the likes of effort or research put in by the Chronicle, I would direct you to an article posted on Sunday morning which states: “Supporters are continuing to make their point to Ashley after a coach of fans from Tyneside journeyed outside Sports Direct’s head office in Shirebrook over the weekend”….This posted after the trip was cancelled over 24 hours earlier. The standards are so low, and the Chronicle, as the most influential institution in the region that isn’t beholden to the club, should be doing far far more to challenge Mike Ashley and do what is best for Newcastle United.

Alas, the level of organisation within the Magpie Group leaves a lot to be desired, however, to let these problems, of which I have noted there are a few, to detract from the main aim of the Magpie Group, which is to bring negative attention towards Mike Ashley, would be a grave mistake.

The Magpie Group are the only ones making an effort so fair play to them. So yes, question them, yes be critical. Hold them to the same standards you would the club you support. Get behind them, go to the meetings, contribute your opinion. Get involved. Be proactive. Don’t sit there in your living room complaining on social media. Make a positive change. Be the difference.

Remember where we are the moment though. It is the long game. Not the short game. Mike Ashley won’t be gone this season and he more than likely won’t be gone come the end of next season too.

The one thing that is out of everyone’s hands is that if we win at Everton, and pick up positive results against West Ham or Burnley, then that will probably affect the attendance of the Wolves game boycott and the desire of fans to combat Mike Ashley. That for me, is a sad indictment of where we are at as a support base.

At the end of the day, as long as Mike Ashley owns Newcastle United, a Premier League football club with a considerable fan base, that allows him to push his number one priority (Sports Direct) to the rest of the world, then he isn’t going anywhere. He has no intention of selling. This is why it is integral to use our own influence, as fans of that great club, via the vehicle of the Magpie Group, to bring as much negative attention to Mike Ashley and Sports Direct as possible.

You can follow the author on Twitter @_jonathandc
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