How to solve a problem like Mike Ashley, it’s not easy.

He has massively benefited, and continues to do so, from his ownership of Newcastle United, so why would he have any interest in selling it?

It is like selling the proverbial golden goose, why would you trade it on when it is still popping out those golden eggs?

Mike Ashley pretends to be this tortured football club owner, if only there was somebody out there willing to take on this terrible burden…

Whilst in reality of course, Newcastle United has been a key cog in the machinery supporting his massive retail empire expansion, as well as diversification into many other areas, including property development.

The football club has provided over a decade of free advertising/promotion to Sports Direct and the rest, Ashley becoming a whole lot richer thanks to buying the club back in 2007.

He is trying to sell the club I hear some of you shout. Oh no he’s not would be the truthful and topical refrain.

If you started (honestly) trying to sell something in 2008, as Mike Ashley claims, then still not being able to sell it over 10 years later would make him one of the worst businessmen/traders ever. He might be one of the worst people you could (not) wish to meet but he certainly isn’t daft when it comes to business, especially buying and selling on.

Protests are of course on the agenda at the minute.

Newcastle fans following a series of pre-match demonstrations outside Ashley’s shops and St James Park, with an 11th minute walk-in at the West Ham match.

A bit of a daft idea as it was not really one thing or the other and only a limited number carried it through.

Hopefully many more will take part in the proper/only protest next Sunday, when fans are asked to send Mike Ashley a warning when Newcastle take on Wolves. Supporters asked to back a boycott of the match and a message that large number of empty seats would be the future if he keeps refusing to sell the club.

In all the Mike Ashley stuff and protests etc, I’m amazed I have seen no (as far as I can see) mention/discussion of a vital part of the owner’s reason for staying.

At the moment he has successfully bought off around 20,000 Newcastle fans and until that changes then I can’t see any chance of getting rid of him.

These are the people currently on the long-term deals. Which basically means that Ashley has knocked some money off if you continue to tie yourself to a season ticket that needs to be effectively renewed halfway through the previous season.

So unless you cancel in January, you will then start paying for next (2019/20) season months before this current (2018/19) one if ended.

At the time the long-term deals were introduced it was all about ‘rewarding’ fans, which surely nobody ever believed was the reason for introducing them.

Instead, I think we can trace back the moment that set the long-term deals in motion to the 15 August 2009.

Newcastle had been relegated for the first (but not the last…) time under Mike Ashley and the club appeared to be in meltdown.

Chris Hughton would prove to be a massive success, until sacked by Ashley…, but he had been eventually given the caretaker manager’s job simply because he was available and cheap.

Ashley sold every player there was an offer for and didn’t allow Hughton to buy anybody, instead having to rely on only signing loans and free agents in summer 2009.

After drawing at West Brom in the first match of the Championship season, Newcastle played Reading at home.

The crowd was 36,944.

With success and Hughton & the players convincing the supporters, crowds did eventually end up averaging over 43,000 but the first sell out at home was the very final game of the season at St James Park.

Relegation and Mike Ashley getting rid of a popular figure (in 2009 it was Alan Shearer) had delivered the owner’s worst nightmare, massive sections of empty seats in front of his Sports Direct adverts at St James Park.

I think at that moment, it sparked the process whereby the idea of the long-term season tickets came into being, a way of helping to protect the crowd figures if he once again brought disaster to the club.

Whilst Rafa Benitez undoubtedly played a huge part, the next (2016/17) Championship campaign saw crowds on average over 51,000 that were surely undoubtedly helped by the fact tens of thousands of fans had already paid a number of months payments by the time NUFC were relegated in 2015/16. Fans were also told that once past January you couldn’t even cancel, though the reality is that people have cancelled after any particular January by simply stopping their direct debit, the club having to accept it.

So moving forward, at the minute we have these 20,000 Newcastle fans currently bought off by the owner, friends of mine currently paying around £150 less than me because they are long-term dealers. Whereas I refused to be tied to his manipulative deal a few years ago and simply pay season by season, it costs more but it means that each summer I can make my choice, rather than Ashley having me where he wants me.

If nothing changes, then Mike Ashley knows that even if Newcastle are relegated in the summer and he forces Rafa Benitez out, he still has as a starting point these 20,000 he has bought off.

Once you add 3,000+ away fans in the Championship (we had many more away fans visiting in 2016/17 than in any PL season), the corporates and so on, you are probably heading up to 30,000 crowds already, before you then add season ticket holders who decide if they renew each summer and fans who pay match by match.Before long I think you are probably looking at a minimum of 40,000 crowds in the second tier, with those 20,000 long-termers serving as the foundations.

It isn’t for me to tell people what to do but I can say I am far happier paying a little bit more, knowing Mike Ashley doesn’t have me in the palm of his hand.

Just think how you will feel if you remain in a long-term deal and then this summer we are heading to the Championship, Rafa Benitez has been pushed/walked, once again there has been a massive profit made on transfer deals, and once again Ashley then takes millions out of the club once the summer 2019 transfer window closes?

My mates are pulling out of their long-term deals next month so they can wait and see what happens before deciding whether to get a season ticket for next season. Every person who does the same will make Mike Ashley think that little bit more that it is maybe time he did sell up.

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  • Wezza

    I find it so hard to believe that fans will still refuse to protest and prefer to just hand over their hard earned cash to FCB – paying for mediocrity by design. Enjoy relegations and near relegations and don’t moan about it!

    • Themoscow72

      Rafa and Lascelles and the Monkseaton branch have called for full support against Wolves

      • Toon Arnie

        Is that just up to the 80 minute mark or do they actually want everyone to stay until full time – that would be unique ! As a one off can you make the effort Moscow and do the full 90 ?

  • Season ticket holder

    For crying out loud it is sickening to see NUFC fans ripping into each other when the real problem is Michael Ashley. If fans want to boycott the Wolves game let them and if they don’t let them. F’ing sick of the poisonous comments on this site. Weather you boycot or not you are still a NUFC supporter who holds the interest of the club to heart. PS – I will be be boycotting but that doesn’t mean I think I’m right above those who are not.

    • Down Under Mag

      I have always seen both sides of the argument. What I can’t understand are those who are criticising the protests and yet content to go every week and still sit there and moan at how bad we are. We are bad because our forward line consists of a loan striker from a relegated club, a 1.5m striker from a 2nd tier Spanish club and a 5m striker from a relegated club. That is nothing but Ashleys fault. You cannot complain about the state of the players and club but refuse to do anything to try and change it. If you don’t want to/feel comfortable participating int eh protests then it is fine, but please do not have a go at those who do try to make a difference. Likewise, those who want to boycott great, I wish you all the best, however do not judge those who still want to go. I think both sides are as guilty as each other for lambasting the other.

      • Salty

        Striker situation could have been worse- Rafa might have followed through with nearly £20m in Jorgensen!! And the £1.5m striker is only playing because Rafa refuses to try anything different. Hopefully Muto will be back soon

        • Sickandtired

          Blame the owner, man. WTF do you expect from Rafa? Our entire starting 11 cost only a little more than Anderson FFS!

          • Colin Marr

            We created 27 chances so Rafas tactics must be right its the players who cant put the ball in the net, (not their fault they’re just not premier class strikers,)

  • Big Al 1967

    I am one of those currently on the long term deal you talk about

    I am glad I was one of those that took part in the 11th minute walk in (If it is done properly like either Valencia or Villareal did a few years back it has a stunning effect)

    I will be boycotting on Sunday

    We will know on February 1st 2019 whether the FCB is prepared to back Rafa or not.

    If he is not backed that for me will be the final straw. I have been going since 1975 and had the same seat since 1989 so it is not a decision taken lightly regardless of the discount on offer

    If Rafa Goes I go

  • John

    If fans dont boycott they deserve what Mike Ashley treats them to.

    • Brian Standen

      Easy boycott if you not got a ticket! May I enquire whether you have one?

  • Carverlier football

    Sad as it seems I genuinely think that those in active protests need to forget about getting the support of the majority of fans and concentrate on activities that make life painful for Ashley/Sports Direct which require only a relatively small amount of people… I’d love to know what they are! Otherwise the only other way he’s going is lower league oblivion.

  • LA toon

    With the football on offer there should be an eleven minute walk out after 79 minutes. The ground would be empty!! Although I am not able to participate in the Wolves boycott etc, I can cease watching the games here in the USA and maybe watch the Falcons. Lol 🤣🤣

  • Rob Brown

    I love the way you write this article as if Ashley has somehow conned 20,000 people into attendance by reducing the cost and manipulating the payment schedule for season tickets.
    You then try to say that you won’t take that route because you can walk away at any time.
    You then say that even those 20,000 can walk away by just cancelling the standing order.
    It seems to me that all of those “suckers” that you’re having a go at are significantly smarter than you, saving 150 quid a season – a grand over the last 7 or 8 years. Even if they leave “legally” (paying up their contract) they still come out financially ahead of you.
    I’m not quite getting who the sucker is here.

    • Colin Marr

      quite correct, calling supporters “suckers, lemmings, sheep. etc. isn’t going to win any friends,

  • Darryl Peel.

    Whilst I may agree that an 11 minute protest was at best unlikely to work you have to respect those that are trying to change the direction in which this club is going or has been for the last 11+ years and in a way, it did highlight the unease of Fat Boy by not attending and having all the cameras in the concourse switched off until halftime.

    Whilst I will not blame supporters for not making this protest a more significant statement I also believe that the Wolves game is a better-publicized demonstration where the fans know it’s either do something now or just accept the Ashley regime of mediocrity at best and becoming the quintessential yoyo club with no ambition.

    ASHLEY OUT!!!!

    • Themoscow72

      Respect a hundred people the protest was a complete joke and was embarrassing.

      • David Cresswell

        Best part of a couple of thousand in the Gallowgate concourse alone. I’m afraid your numbers are way off. It may still just be small percentage of the overall crowd, but the snowball is undoubtedly growing #NotBlowingOver

        • Mr_Kinnear

          Let’s see how many boycott wolves and return for the next home game. My guess is over 45k for Wolves game. That being said protests must be made.

          • Themoscow72

            Will be between 50,000 and 51,000 for the Wolves game I will guarantee that.

          • Toon Arnie

            …. and 38,000 left in the ground by the 80th minute ! Why do you think it’s acceptable to leave so early Moscow ?

        • Themoscow72

          I saw hundred tops go in the stadium and so did everyone else. Most have been a dozen in the rest of the stadium.

          • David Cresswell

            I’ll happily share with you footage that allows you to re-count or even guesstimate how wrong you are with your statement?

          • Themoscow72

            Even the papers stated a few hundred but looked a hundred to me and many others. Apart from the Gallowgate only a dozen at best. You count the people in your footage one by one see what no you come up with. Not people in the concourse but people taking their seats at 11 minutes past three looked like 100 tops.

          • David Cresswell

            This was midway through the 11 mins and as you can see, shows no evidence of folk breaking rank early. By 3:11 the numbers would most likely have grown rather than shrunk…and this was just one area. I’ll let you do the counting

          • David Cresswell

            Original link stripped out – just remove the spaces?
            b i t . l y / 2KSpmgj

          • Toon Arnie

            How many do you think left early …. other than you ?

        • Wezza

          Of course his numbers are off, he is a lying troll who has been banned countless times on here. Here is hoping for another ban!

      • East Durham Mag

        You are the embarrassment and as are all who kiss Fattys backside.

      • Toon Arnie

        The embarrassing bit is all those ‘loyal’ fans leaving way before full time EVERY game. Come on Moscow, you keep on avoiding this – are you one of them ?

  • DZA

    The biggest problem is the fans who are will to make up excuses and still keep going to games and not willing to help in the boycott or any movement.

    Ashley will always get the last laugh as he knows 40,000 plus are still willing to part with money and why would you sell up?

    Hearing fans saying boycott won’t do anything, well let’s try if the stadium only had 5,000 fans in there out of 52,000 that would send a message and be picked up by the media.

    Ashley going no where till the fans who are turning a blind eye are happy to go with the excuse of ‘Supporting the team and not ashley’ but in fact you’re the problem where Ashley still here as he has no reason to sell when he knows 40,000 are still willing to fund his lifestyle etc.

  • Cuba999

    I saw my first game in 1961. I was at Hereford in 72, Walsall in the lashing rain and countless other disasters. I have travelled the British Isles and a lot of Europe following Newcastle. We have had worse teams in the past but somehow this feels different. Watching this slow death of our team due to the FCB is awful. Saturday was the end for me. If this is a contest between the fat man and me then he has won. 50 odd years watching the Toon with little reward but no more.
    I wont be back till he is gone.
    R.I.P Necastle United

    • Leazes.

      We haven’t had a malevolent owner before….

      ….just ‘incompetent’ and ‘unambitious’ or ‘lazy’ and that’s the difference, the incompetent sometimes get it right by chance….

      ……the malevolent owner gets it wrong by design.

      • Brian Standen

        That’s a fair point but does not make them any less culpable

        • Wezza

          That was then and this is now. That’s in the past and this is happening right now and we have the power to change it.
          Don’t you believe it, Brian, that the owner is being plain malevolent and pocketing hundreds of millions of the clubs money. Are you happy to watch a team setup by design to avoid relegation year on year?

          • grumpyoldmag

            We don’t

    • Hughie_Gallacher

      As bad as having Ashley own the club is, it’s the attitude of our so-called fans that make it worse for me. I used to think NUFC fans were a bit dippy in the days of Westwood, McKeag et al but at least they would have had the brains to appreciate their club was being systematically dismantled.
      They now seem like intellectuals put against the bozos moaning about the protests on Total Sport.

      • DZA

        Well said.

    • Themoscow72

      When he goes iit could get a lot worse believe me. We have a group of players who try and care but a couple of hundred supporters who want us relegated as they see it as the only way of getting rid of Ashley. Not a chance of that happening.

      • Toon Arnie

        Will you leave when your hero finally goes ?

    • Kev Newcastle England

      Great post.No EXACTLY how you feel.

  • Colin Youngman

    Hang on, here. I’m all for slagging off Fatty and there’s a myriad of reasons for wanting him out. The ten-year deal isn’t one of them. Sir John Hall is revered for his time at the club yet he introduced the ‘bond’ scheme where one was required to pay £500 just to stay in the same seat for ten years, or risk being uprooted to another part of the stadium.

    • Rich Lawson

      £500 is a lot to pay for a comfy cushion and your name under the seat,my dad who went to the ground for 75yrs was a bond holder,had the golden wedding party there (yet when i asked nobody from the club was available to pop in and say all the best,they were ”all on holiday”). When he stopped going for ill health I did the ground tour in the close season and had a look at his seat,the name plate had already gone !!

  • Colin Marr

    Don’t other clubs have long term deals ? (please excuse my ignorance.

  • Mr_Kinnear

    Surely the lo g term are tied in but the other annual 20000+ are equally guilty.They have renewed year on year. If the team are relegated and top of the league will you still attend? Dividing the fans and pointing fingers is not the way to go about protesting.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    This is a problem that goes back 30 years dating back to the times of Mckeag & Co where there was nowhere enough support for boycotts back then where 30,000 turned up to watch a club at the foot of the old 1st Division.

    There are talks of a boycott against Wolves planned but I am going to stick my neck out and say it will be a failure.
    The support at Newcastle United have always had collective “Stockholm Syndrome”, So until some can break the spell it is never going to change !

    • Westdentoon

      I agree mate, unfortunately. I think the 11 min walk in is a barometer on how to expect the boycott to go..

    • grumpyoldmag

      Back in those days Malcolm Dix organised many protests, sponsored walks around the mood to raise funds publicity etc. Nothing worked until he engaged the interest of a local millionaire with stature and clout to buy up shares and get them out. We’re long beyond the reach of local rich people now but we do have local people fans of the club with worldwide contact lists and business knowledge. Unless the magpie group gets theses people involved to try to drum up rich backers no campaign can succeed. These people are not going to associate with bedsheet protests outside high street shops. The magpie groups tactics are doomed to failure and not supported by the majority of fans. The majority of fans do want rid of Ashley but realise these protests will do nothing to achieve that.

  • t00nraider

    An owner doesn’t spend £70mil in just one transfer window just to avoid relegation and this was before the big tv money! Keep the faith and support he team.

    • Toon Barmy


      • JohnnyH

        Can you be more specific?
        Preferably without caps lock.

    • Toon Arnie

      Yeah you’re right – to aim no higher than avoiding relegation you would be looking at a £20m profit…..oh errr hold on a minute, that would be the last window ….

  • Scottie Chugger Dearden

    Ashley isn’t going anywhere, as long as he’s making money from the club he ain’t going anywhere and unless someone comes up with the asking price, let’s just get on with the misery starting by getting beat off Everton!