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Opinion

Newcastle United – Resistance is futile?

2 weeks ago
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It is now twelve years and four months since Mike Ashley came into our lives, buying John Hall’s Newcastle United shares.

That basically put him in control and he then quickly completed a full takeover of the club.

Newcastle fans welcomed him with open arms, a self-made British billionaire who had a retail empire closely aligned to football.

What could possibly go wrong?

Maybe before we all welcomed him through the door we should have done some kind of test like you do for vampires, waved some garlic at him or whether his reflection showed in a mirror, in fact anything that would have indicated whether he was genuine or not.

There again, why would you doubt the motivations of somebody like Mike Ashley taking over your club.

Obviously Newcastle fans recognised that there will be baggage/other factors that come with any owner of a club but bottom line is that any owner, especially one with the financial muscle, will automatically be desperate to try and be as successful on the pitch as possible.

How wrong could you be.

Whilst pretty much every other owner of a major club looks to use the rest of their business interests to help their football club succeed, with Ashley and Newcastle it is the exact opposite.

When buying the club, Mike Ashley’s people told John Hall that the main reason for buying Newcastle United was to promote his retail empire around the world. None of us could have remotely guessed what the reality of this would mean.

A plan of surviving in the Premier League with the minimum of money spent, both on the first team squad and the infrastructure – not a penny spent on St James Park, Academy, Training ground that doesn’t have to be.

No interest in trying to win any trophy, just survival in the top tier to ensure Premier League revenues and that worldwide exposure for Sports Direct and other brands.

A crushing situation for Newcastle fans but what can you do?

A latest call to boycott from Mike Ashley protest group on Thursday:

‘Newcastle United protest group, Toon For Change (formerly Empty For Ashley) is calling on supporters to boycott the side’s next home game, against Brighton on Saturday 21 September.

The group, which is campaigning to force Mike Ashley to find a genuine buyer for NUFC suggests that supporters can use the match as an opportunity to make games at St James’ Park less appealing to live broadcasters and show the footballing world that they are taking a stand against Ashley.’

So, is resistance futile or not?

When you have a billionaire owner, what can ordinary fans do, if anything, to influence Mike Ashley?

None of us really knows what the tipping point might be, if indeed there is one.

Clearly Ashley doesn’t like anything that gives even more bad publicity to his retail empire than what he generates himself!

I think the two extreme views for Newcastle fans is along these lines…

What’s the point, nothing we can do will influence Mike Ashley, if he ever sells then great but might as well go to the matches because makes no real difference to him if I stay away.

We have to do something. Mike Ashley doesn’t like empty seats at St James Park, not so much because of getting  less money because of unsold tickets but it reflects badly on him and his retail empire, thousands of empty seats next to Sports Direct adverts is not a good look for him. Plus, anything is worth a try.

For most Newcastle fans they will be somewhere in between these two extremes, they will say they just want to go to the  match and hopefully get some enjoyment out of it.

So is resistance futile or is it worth trying anything?

Go to the Brighton match or stay away?

Personally, I will be staying away for this one at least.

An official crowd of only 44,000 for Watford and then this one at 5.30pm live on Sky Sports.

Brighton fans will bring a minibus and an awkward kick-off time as well for our fans who live a distance away, plus you can still watch it on TV AND it will be a very visible protest with it being on live TV.

Less than 40,000 inside St James Park in 15 days time?

It is possible. Maybe it is futile but at least I feel I am doing something that will annoy Mike Ashley.

That has to be worth something!

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