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Opinion

Newcastle United might have a football team but do we have a football club?

2 weeks ago
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To really enjoy watching your team play, do you need to have a football club?

That might sound like a bit of a strange statement because surely the two things are inseparable, surely…?

Maybe the better question would be, is a football club about more than 11 men (or women) kicking a football around on a Saturday afternoon (Sunday lunchtime, Monday night, Thursday night, Saturday teatime…)?

Is it about a feeling of belonging and connection that goes way beyond the 90 minutes?

You look at Blackpool and it is pretty clear that most of their fanbase didn’t feel like they had a club for so many years under the disgraceful ownership of the Oyston family. Thankfully they have now emerged from that sad era with their club back.

Football clubs sadly have long been a target for chancers, Newcastle fans know very well that they are not alone.

Maybe the most disgraceful episode in modern day times was when Wimbledon fans actually lost their club totally. The authorities shamefully allowing it to be relocated to Milton Keynes and renamed.

It isn’t a competition to try and prove who has got it worse, we should be bothered about all football clubs that end up in a position where the owner(s) show total disregard for the place they have in our community.

There is something seriously wrong in English football and it is pretty feeble when you still see the ‘Premier League is the richest in the World’ used as some kind of ‘proof’ that we have never had it so good.

Try telling that to Bury fans.

What benefit does it give supporters when the TV deals generate so much cash? Overall, football fans in England still pay more to watch their clubs than any other major league on the planet.

The football authorities are a waste of space in this country and have repeatedly shown that there is no plan, or even wish seemingly, to ensure supporters have a credible club to support, or even a club at all.

No system is going to be perfect but in Germany they very definitely seem to have retained far more of an identity when it comes to fans and their football clubs. Brilliant atmospheres, huge safe standing areas, ticket prices realistic and a more tightly regulated system as to how clubs behave. Both as businesses and with regard to the supporters, with fans working inside the clubs as SLOs (Supporter Liaison Officers), paid positions and accepted as part of the way a club works.

In Germany clubs and businesses work together and benefit together, not always totally successfully/perfectly but it does work to varying degrees.

In England, it is simply out of control and it is simply make it up as you go along. There is no balance between business and fans, between owners and fans.

This weekend we have Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct (soon to be Frasers Group) United up against what for many is a just as monstrous Manchester looking for global domination City.

Man City are part of the CFG (City Football Group), one of seven clubs owned by Sheikh Mansour around the world and with an eighth set to be added in India.

Yes we would all like to win trophies or at least compete for them but there will be many Man City fans appalled at what their club has become. Do they also keep an eye on the results of their other clubs in America, Australia, Spain, Uruguay…?

Of course, we are most bothered about Newcastle United and the reality is that until Mike Ashley moves on, we don’t really have a fully functioning football club. We have a football team that will play 38 league matches and minimal cup games, as the owner looks to get through another ‘successful’ year of HIS football club continuing to help feed his overall business empire. No more, no less.

At this moment in time we simply have a choice of whether or not to go and watch HIS football team, which is no choice at all.

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