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Opinion

‘Protests against Mike Ashley must continue regardless of the takeover situation’

2 years ago
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The announcement from the Magpie Group that the Mike Ashley inspired boycott of this Sunday’s match at St James Park has been cancelled, has been met with anger and disappointment by many fans.

Whether this is the correct decision or not, only time will tell, but it is easy to understand the frustration of many fans who feel we have heard this all before.

If there is a genuine and ironclad takeover of Newcastle United in the offing then cancelling a protest that would have led to empty seats in the ground is understandable, as we would want to show to an investor the huge potential of the club he/she/they might be considering buying. The intentions of the Magpie Group are obviously good.

However, the most concerning part of the Group’s statement is the plan to cease protests against Mike Ashley at the stadium. Sadly, although individual protests will continue, I feel that the lack of a coordinated protest against the owner at St James Park is exactly what he wants.

We need to show to Mike Ashley that we are going nowhere.

Stepping up the protests, both inside and outside St James Park, would show Ashley that he has no option but to sell. Ceasing protests would show him that we fans can be bought off, quietened down by a juicy takeover rumour.

The takeover is, after all, just a rumour and the timing of Ashley’s announcement on Monday is very significant.

Let’s look at the facts.

We are coming up to the January transfer window, a time when both Rafa Benitez and the Newcastle fans will be expecting money to be made available for transfers. What better excuse for not making any funds available than that money can’t be spent because Ashley is in the process of selling the club

It is worth remembering that the failed Amanda Staveley takeover happened at the same time of year, ahead of and around the January transfer window.

Ahead of every January, Ashley can create another takeover rumour to give him a reason not to invest in the squad.

The announcement on Monday also came at a time when fan protests had been ramping up to one of the highest levels in recent years and genuine pressure was actually being brought to bear on Ashley and his businesses. Sports Direct’s shares have fallen by a third in the last 6 months and the protests of Newcastle fans have been bringing negative media coverage on Ashley at a time when he is looking to expand his retail empire.

Ending our protests now would completely and utterly let Mike Ashley off the hook. It would show him we have no resolve and are happy to be placated by soundbites and vague promises of a better future.

Instead the protests must continue and must grow. The 50,000 fans inside St James Park on Sunday must, with songs, banners and placards, present a United front to let Mike Ashley know he is not welcome at Newcastle United.  The London Magpie Group and other fan organisations must continue their campaign against Ashley, showing him that there is no hiding place for him, nowhere he can escape from his actions until he finally sells up and gives Newcastle United to someone who understands what this great club means.

This is not the time for inactivity; this is not the time for wait and see. This is the time for action.

Protests against Mike Ashley must continue regardless of the takeover situation.

You can follow the author on Twitter @BillCrawford87
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