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Opinion

What’s love got to do with it?

1 month ago
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If anybody consciously considered whether they should support Newcastle United, Mike Ashley wouldn’t be here.

Indeed, he would never have given NUFC a second’s thought.

As his people told Sir John Hall when Ashley bought the club in 2007, he wanted a football club to project and grow his retail empire at home and abroad.

If Newcastle fans sat down and thought rationally about whether to start supporting the club or not, Mike Ashley would have seen a half empty St James Park back in 2007. Not anything like the image you want to project when your Sports Direct adverts are beamed around the world.

Thousands of empty seats totally the wrong message when trying to push a positive message to potential customers.

Of course, if we all thought and acted rationally, Mike Ashley would never a pretty much empty stadium for his adverts.

That’s the trouble though, we don’t act rationally as new or time-served Newcastle fans.

It’s not like going to a restaurant or shop and having a bad experience then never going back, once NUFC has its hooks in you, it is all but impossible to escape from.

Which of course is what Mike Ashley feasts on.

For most of us, our love for Newcastle United is greater than our hatred of Mike Ashley.

Of course tens of thousands of Newcastle fans are deciding to say enough is enough.

There have been thousands of empty seats at every home match this season, even despite thousands of tickets sold at big discounts through universities and other local organisations and given away in countless competitions, there were even a couple of thousand empty seats against Man Utd (the claimed official attendance was 51,198 but definitely more empty seats than that).

If there are five thousand unsold tickets for a game that doesn’t mean there are five thousand Newcastle fans refusing to buy them, our fanbase is vast and it is tens of thousands refusing to buy up the tickets.

Newcastle averaged crowds of over 51,000 in the Championship, only because we had a bit of hope that Rafa Benitez might stick around long-term and get the club healthy again. How many fans would want to get tickets if Newcastle were ambitious, well run, successful and didn’t have a vulture like Mike Ashley constantly picking over the carcass?

A line has been crossed and Newcastle’s attendances are on a downward trend now until Mike Ashley sells up.

I think NUFC will have an official average of around 47,000 or so this season but then next season it will be down to around 40,000-43,000 average if still in the Premier League, if he manages a third relegation in 11 PL seasons though, we would be looking at 30,000-35,000.

With Mike Ashley remaining in charge, it isn’t a case of if the club ends up on its knees, simply a case of when.

Ashley refuses to recognise how lucky he was to have people like Hughton and Benitez to get Newcastle straight back up, as well as other factors in NUFC’s favour. Like all people such as him, Mike Ashley will believe that the promotions were down to him AND the relegations totally the fault of others.

Next time I think the odds are against him having the same luck, plus the Championship is ever more competitive. Ambitious owners taking over and spending a lot of money on the squads of clubs such as Wolves and Villa.

When you have Mike Ashley and his cronies deciding to spend £40m on the likes of Joelinton (not a terrible player but not a regular goalscorer or worth even half of that figure), it isn’t difficult to foresee more disastrous decisions being made if the club/team were spirally downwards.

If Mike Ashley stays, he will ensure that whilst Newcastle fans will not necessarily fall out of love with their club, they will find the separation far far easier to contemplate and deal with.

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