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Tyne Talk

Comment: When Newcastle United are winning matches is exactly the right time to support Mike Ashley protests

2 years ago

Newcastle United winning their last three matches should have only one impact on whether fans feel like supporting the protests against Mike Ashley.

It should convince people even more that this is the right moment to be doing so.

After a great November full of victories on the pitch, nobody can accuse Newcastle supporters of simply reacting to another defeat, or yet another month without a win.

It couldn’t have worked out better.

All fans who take part in the 11th minute late walk-in to their seat today and/or boycotting the Wolves match in eight days time, are clearly only doing so because of how strongly they feel about Mike Ashley.

We aren’t unhappy because Newcastle happen to have won or lost their last match or three, this is about eleven and a half years of Mike Ashley destroying any ambition our proud football club ever had.

This three game run doesn’t suggest in any way that anything has changed when it comes to the way the club is run, in fact just the opposite.

Rafa Benitez managing to hold it together and come up with a winning formula in these games, despite the way Mike Ashley runs the club, not because of it.

Ironic that the 11th minute walk-in comes in this game against West Ham, a club who backed their new manager with around £100m in the summer, a net spend of around £90m.

Whilst for Rafa Benitez it was a total outlay of around £23m allowed by Mike Ashley, a profit made on transfer deals of over £20m. To put it into perspective, the Hammers spent £30m on Felipe Anderson alone in the summer, an amount almost double Newcastle’s record transfer fee going back to 2005.

It is a valid question when some Newcastle fans ask what’s the point of the protests as there is no guarantee Mike Ashley will change, I couldn’t agree more. There are no guarantees.

However, that is not really a reason for not doing anything, who knows what the tipping point might be for him to finally accept he has to properly put the club up for sale at a market price, rather than pretending that he is trying to sell Newcastle United. If he advertised the fact and said e would definitely sell up if X number of people come in on the 11th minute, or boycott Wolves, then I can guarantee you that more than enough people would do so.

Supporting Newcastle United is not about guarantees though, none of us expect to win a trophy for a start, all we are bothered about is the club trying to be the best it can be on and off the pitch.

If you honestly believe that this is what Mike Ashley is attempting to do, after more than a decade of experiencing life under him, then you are a lost cause.

We all know the vast back catalogue of misery Mike Ashley has inflicted on Newcastle fans, renaming St James Park in favour of his shop for no money to NUFC, over a decade of free advertising for his retail empire, appointments of Dennis Wise, Joe Kinnear (twice!), John Carver and Alan Pardew, the disgraceful treatment of club legends Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan, a club policy of not trying in the cups, the disgusting discrimination against cancer victim Jonas Gutierrez, the repeated broken promises to Rafa Benitez and so on.

The thing is though, we don’t need to go back a decade or whatever.

If you are trying/wanting to believe that Mike Ashley has been turning over a new leaf, what about this in these past six months, since Rafa Bentez somehow dragged NUFC into tenth place in the Premier League.

Once again Ashley promised Rafa ‘every penny’ and freedom to make transfers as he saw fit, only to instead insist on a £20m+ on transfer deals and block a number of transfers, whilst also making the situation so difficult that many of the signings the manager did/could make, arrived so late that they collectively took so little part in the pre-season and therefore had fitness issues, heaping extra difficulties on the season.

Rafa Benitez yet again talked of ‘broken promises’.

As well as the minus spending in the transfer market, Mike Ashley also put the season ticket prices up in every stand at St James Park.

Then after season ticket price rises and a large profit on transfers, when the window ended, the owner then took millions out of the cashflow for himself.

Rafa Benitez wants to turn the whole club around, proper investment in the first team squad, the new state of the art ‘essential’ training complex that was promised in 2013, as well as proper investment in the Academy, so that the manager can start and build an ambitious club for the future.

The most recent official NUFC Fans Forum made clear that Mike Ashley sees little point in proper club investment in the Academy, whilst the state of the art training complex which should have been finished a couple of years ago and which we were told by Ashley was essential if NUFC were to compete, is simply not going to happen for the foreseeable future.

After a 13 month break from attending any match, even Mike Ashley’s return to St James Park told us that absolutely nothing had changed.

His first action ahead of that Leicester match was to send in his people to rip down the Rafa Benitez and Kevin Keegan banners that were hanging outside the Gallowgate End.

Mike Ashley has no intention of running Newcastle United in a fit & proper and ambitious manner.

Like thousands of you, I won’t be taking my seat until the 11th minute today and I will be boycotting the Wolves match.

There are no guarantees but a message has to be sent to Mike Ashley that this can’t continue, Newcastle fans have had enough.

Supporters don’t want to stop going to matches and indeed many who are already staying away, would love to come back.

Nobody wants to stay away indefinitely but by supporting the 11th minute protest today and the Wolves boycott next weekend, we can send the message to Mike Ashley that this is where he will be heading unless he sells up.


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