Only 5% of Newcastle United fans are protestors, another 5% don’t care – 90% of us are in the middle
I’m guessing most Newcastle United fans will recognise my path as a supporter.
Taken by my dad and other relatives as a kid, with increasing frequency (back in the days of the terraces and most people paying match by match) and I got older.
Then at a certain point as a teenager being allowed to go with my mates from school.
Time then moving on and going to the match with my drinking mates.
Before then eventually taking my own kids and that becoming a bit of a balancing act between ensuring they have a good time AND I do.
The compromise many of you no doubt recognise, only have a couple/few before the match and then my wife picking them up post-match, before I meet up with my mates in the pub for a session in the city centre.
None of us became Newcastle United fans because we wanted to become embroiled in club politics.
We started going and found we loved the match because it was an escape from the other parts of your life, a place where you went for a laugh and because you love the football/Newcastle United.
Unless you are a very weird one, you didn’t start following this football club in the expectation of winning trophies and even if for some reason you did (Keegan/Sir Bobby eras?), then 15 years or more later you certainly wouldn’t still be doing it (supporting NUFC).
However, whether we like it or not, club politics has become central to supporting this football club whether we wanted it or not.
Certainly these last 11 years we have known nothing else since Mike Ashley forced Kevin Keegan out and treated the NUFC legend so abysmally.
I would confidently wager that Newcastle United’s owner gets more mentions in the media than all of the other 19 PL clubs owners combined.
If you asked fans who go and watch any other Premier League club, at least 95% of them would be able to name Mike Ashley, if you asked who owned NUFC.
On the other hand I reckon most Premier League fans couldn’t name more than a handful of the owners of other PL clubs.
As Newcastle United fans, I bet just like me, rarely a day goes by when you don’t have some kind of a conversation where Mike Ashley is mentioned.
This is what we have been reduced to because of the shocking way Ashley has mistreated/disrespected the club, the fans, legends such as Keegan and Shearer, St James Park, the city of Newcastle and so on.
This summer has been a shocker, I feel worn out before the first match kicks off.
It really feels like Mike Ashley has on purpose wanted to push us to the very limits when it comes to sticking with the club as active fans going to games. To put season ticket prices up yet again was a major red flag, even if season ticket had been renewed/sold, the extra money is minimal compared to the overall turnover this coming season.
It was definitely vindictive and just because he could, particularly when Mike Ashley knew he had no intention of trying to keep the likes of Rafa and Rondon at the club.
This summer’s turmoil and debate has largely about what we, the Newcastle United fans, can or can’t do to influence the owner.
Which brings me to the boycott debate.
This is what I think, no matter what the loudest on the two sides of the ‘debate’ say/shout via social media.
No more than 5% of Newcastle United fans don’t care about Mike Ashley and what he has done to the club, or at least don’t think it is all that bad.
By the same token, I don’t thing any more than 5% are active protestors. When I talk of protestors by the way, I am not talking about whether you are boycotting a game(s) or not, I mean those who will actively turn up outside Sports Direct and/or St James Park and demonstrate.
It is just the way that it is, you might sympathise with what they are protesting about but it is just not for you.
However, as I indicate above, I don’t see the chances of a boycott getting mass support as the same thing as how many people are prepared to turn up with banners etc in the street. They are obviously connected but they are not the same thing.
On Sunday we have a proposed boycott of the Arsenal match.
Please, for starters, ignore anybody that is calling somebody a traitor for going to the game, or for not going to the match. We are all Newcastle United fans and any genuine supporter knows that this isn’t a simplistic thing – weighing up the hatred of Mike Ashley versus the very thing that defines you most as a supporter, which is going to games if you can.
Everything between now and 2pm on Sunday should be about trying to persuade the 90% of fans who aren’t at one of the extremes, that missing the one game, Arsenal, is our chance to register a protest against Mike Ashley.
First game of the season, you can watch it on TV, you can even still have your normal pre and post-match session in the city centre, just don’t go inside St James Park.
If you have a season ticket then make this one game sacrifice.
I think we will have a very effective and very visual boycott of this Arsenal match. I think thousands and thousands of season ticket holders will be convinced that this one match is all about registering your vote against Mike Ashley’s ownership.
The vast majority of these people won’t turn up and protest outside St James Park, instead their ‘protest’ is all about just not going to the game, their seat being empty as a one-off. They will stay at home and watch it, go to the local, or go over town and watch it in a city centre pub.
Demanding that people who have already paid for their season ticket should boycott all games, is just plain daft and counter-productive.
This is all about one game where we can all come together and lay down a marker, every empty seat on Sunday is a message for Mike Ashley.
If you are still going to go to the match it doesn’t bother me, it is your money your time and your opinion.
I would try and persuade you otherwise but I don’t think you are stupid or a traitor for doing so. The bottom line is that none of us know for sure just what would be the tipping point in order to be successful in ridding ourselves of Mike Ashley.
However, on Sunday it is your choice to stand on one side of the line or the other, go on, give it a miss just this once.
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