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Opinion

Has Mike Ashley broken the will of Newcastle fans in the south – Unsold Chelsea tickets as evidence

2 months ago
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Newcastle fans are difficult to shake off.

Mike Ashley had done his very best but even after a decade of life under his rule, Newcastle United had a home average of over 51,000.

In the second tier.

It defies belief really, especially when you now see how quickly Mike Ashley has allowed things to turn to sh…

Less than 40,000 inside St James Park for the recent Brighton home match and then the NUFC owner reduced to giving away piles of tickets in countless competitions (everyone a winner!) for Man Utd, as well as thousands of others at massive discounts through universities and other local universities.

However, it gets worse, has Mike Ashley at last succeeded in breaking the back/will of our away support?

In this case, especially with regard to the massive number of Newcastle fans in the south?

I speak from experience as somebody who has spent most of his working life living in and around London.

In the past you had a right sweat on for pretty much any London match, relying on friends and relations with season tickets to sort you out for each and every away game in the south.

Unless you have lived down in London, you can’t really appreciate just how many Geordies there are living there, as well as of course those others living within easy reach of the capital.

All of the big northern cities have huge numbers who have gravitated to London for work but I don’t think any of them touch the Geordie ex-pat population in terms of size.

You always looked forward to those games where tickets were easier to come by.

Back in the  90s both Charlton and Wimbledon were the best bets when sadly (for them) they didn’t have their own stadiums and ended up relying on other London clubs to help them out.

The best one of all was back in 1997, the 23 March saw Newcastle playing Wimbledon at Selhurst Park.

Wimbledon didn’t have the biggest of fanbases anyway and once they were away from Plough Lane and guests of a club with a far bigger capacity, bingo!

It wasn’t the greatest of games, a 1-1 draw and Asprilla equalising with a brilliant free-kick.

However, what I will never forget is the support that day.

There were estimates of around 10,000 Newcastle fans but I honestly think that was seriously underestimated, most of the ground seemed to be celebrating when we scored!

If you are sceptical, checking back on the attendances seems to back the above up.

On 1 March 1997, it was Wimbledon v Leicester with 11,487 in attendance.

On 18 March 1997, it was Wimbledon v West Ham with 15,771 there.

On 23 March 1997, 23,175 there for Wimbledon v Newcastle.

Despite the indifferent performance on the pitch, the support off it was something  else.

The vast majority of the 10,000 (12,000? 15,000?) Newcastle fans were Geordies living in the south, who knew this was the one game they would definitely be able to get into, many of them taking their kids as well, living in the south and quite probably born down there, but a chance to ensure the brainwashing.

Rapidly moving forward 22 years again, this is where we are.

Chelsea revealing on Monday that they had extra tickets for sale after returns came back in from Newcastle.

Even despite those returns, the Newcastle United official ticketing website was still showing tickets still for sale when they stopped selling them at 2pm on Thursday. It was previously reported that Chelsea won’t be selling to Newcastle fans on the day, even if there were/are still unsold seats.

I find it staggering and depressing that this is where Mike Ashley has took us to, a 3pm Saturday afternoon kick-off at Chelsea, tickets now capped at £30 as well these days. Yet Newcastle fans in the south didn’t come close to selling this one out.

So has Mike Ashley broken the will of Newcastle fans in the south?

I would love to read any comments from London area based Mags explaining why they have given up the ghost and are staying away.

Is this just an unavoidable consequence of what Mike Ashley as done to the club and a connected follow-on to all the unsold tickets at away matches (I see there are still over 8,000 unsold seats in the normal areas for the Wolves match next weekend).

I am particularly wondering what will happen to all of those kids growing up in the south, who would have been automatically brainwashed in the past by their NUFC ex-pat parents, buying every strip and taking them to the games in the south.

Surely if that isn’t happening then inevitably they will end up as Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea, Man Utd fans…

Mike Ashley is like climate change for Newcastle fans, we can see the harm at the minute but the really bad stuff might not become apparent until in the years to come.

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