This is where Mike Ashley has dragged Newcastle United down to on Saturday
Mike Ashley won’t be there to see it.
The fruits of his labours laid bare to a worldwide TV audience.
The Newcastle United owner hasn’t been seen at St James Park this season despite having said pre-season just how excited it was all going to be now he had Steve Bruce ‘in charge’, instead of that annoying Rafa Benitez and his boring football.
So here we have it, everything that Mike Ashley has strived for these 13 seasons.
Newcastle go into this key home clash with Brighton, now sitting in the relegation zone.
With a schedule to follow of Leicester away, Man Utd home, Chelsea away, Wolves home, West Ham away, to follow, it is surely imperative that they win this one.
The players will need every scrap of help they can get but instead they will walk out to see thousands and thousands of empty seats.
That is due to Mike Ashley.
Newcastle fans left in an impossible position, wanting to support the team and go to matches but so many driven away by the owner’s running of the club.
This is how it then manifests itself, a key game and there will be all but zero help from the terraces.
I counted up last week on the official NUFC ticket site and there were just under 9,000 unsold seats in the normal home sections, I did the same this morning and there are still around 8,800 unsold, I make it they have sold less than a couple of hundred tickets this past week.
Last season Brighton filled half the away end with 1,600 coming up for a 3pm Saturday kick-off, looking at the Brighton official website, that and logic tells you they will bring no more than a thousand for this 5.30pm live on TV match, meaning another 2,000+ empty seats.
How many of the 4,000 corporate tickets they will fail to sell/give away remains to be seen but for a Saturday night game against non-attractive opposition there will surely be many empty seats, with so many having better things to do on a Saturday night.
Sadly, that is what so many of my mates have been reduced to even the ones who have kept their season tickets. I was quite shocked at how many of them are offering to give their tickets away for free because they also have better things to do on a Saturday night, plus there is zero interest from anybody in taking the free tickets off their hands.
None of us/them are taking any pleasure in this and in the past nothing would have kept us from the match, even if our partners were whingeing that it was Saturday night and a usual big night out with friends. Indeed, it seems like a relief for many of my friends that they have a reason not to go to this Brighton game.
You can have as many people shouting boycott as you like but the reality is that Mike Ashley is the driving force behind what is all but but certain to be 10,000+ unsold seats on Saturday and indeed far more empty ones, if my season ticket holding mates are anything to go by.
In effect, Mike Ashley is organising a mass boycott…
The players will run out and there will be no heartwarming, atmosphere building, flag display. Mike Ashley has left them with feeling they have no alternative but to go on strike with the flag displays until he sells up.
Then there will be the sad figure of Steve Bruce on the sideline.
Somebody clearly not up to the job and struggling to cope. Fans split as to whether this patsy should be blamed for taking the job when he knows what Mike Ashley is like and also that he (Bruce) isn’t up to up to it, or whether he is just another victim like the fans.
Either way, nobody will be thinking ahead of this game that they have a duty to go to support this Head Coach.
Neither sadly, do so many people feel any longer this great urge to have to be there to support this club or team.
Mike Ashley has done that, the NUFC owner making it feel pointless for so many.
Over 51,000 turned up every home game on average in the Championship because they believed in Rafa Benitez and believed he was capable of taking this club on a journey, given half decent backing.
Now all we can see is Ashley, Charnley and Bruce.
Maybe Newcastle can edge a victory in this battle on the pitch but off it, Mike Ashley has lost the war. Nothing is now going to change that until he goes.
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