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Opinion

Best thing you will read about Mike Ashley and Newcastle United today

4 months ago
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Mike Ashley must be laughing himself stupid.

His latest move at Newcastle United lapped up by the media with absolutely zero critical analysis.

Whilst nothing should surprise me about our football club by now, the way that the journalists/newspapers have failed Newcastle fans on this one is simply…incredible.

Mike Ashley giving away 10,000 Newcastle United season tickets and the message from the media is that this can only be a good thing.

No scraping even slightly beneath the surface, just taking this at face value.

With Mike Ashley, we have sadly learnt over these 13 seasons that absolutely what you can’t do, is take anything he does at face value.

The only place I have seen any kind of critical analysis is on The Mag.

It feels like this is the equivalent of a state run media, except it is the club that running it, journalists/newspapers happy to have their strings pulled by Mike Ashley. Who knows what their motivations are for doing so but it stinks.

I have never written anything for The Mag before, or anywhere else for that matter.

I am just a normal fan who reads everything he can, with The Mag being my main source of info and debate.

This free season ticket issue though has pushed me over the edge.

The media aren’t making anything of the fact that this coincides with huge moves at Sports Direct.

On Monday they will be rebranded as ‘Fraser Group’ with immediate effect, as Mike Ashley has put forward the idea and organised a vote of shareholders in four days time. Owning two thirds of the shares, what Mike Ashley wants, happens.

Sports Direct has become so toxic as a name and becoming Fraser Group instead will see a massive push of the new name, a bright new start.

Now if only the SD (FG) owner also owned a football club that was pretty much completely covered in almost free (used to be completely free for over a decade) advertising for his retail empire, a club which because it competes in the Premier League gets worldwide coverage via TV…

The sight of 10,000 empty seats has been a killer for Mike Ashley both for his own personal credibility and that of his retail empire adverts. He chose Newcastle United to buy because of the sold out St James Park giving the perfect image for his adverts.

Very very quickly (overnight?), St James Park is going to see Fraser Group everywhere you look.

Yet not one journalist or newspaper has even mentioned it, never mind point out that this is the real reason.

I find it quite staggering. Are they that desperate for access to the club or is it just laziness?

I have actually seen many of them describing it as a generous gesture from the NUFC owner.

Yes, honestly!

They are honestly reporting it as him doing it for the benefit of the fans and not himself.

Of course thousands of people will now be able to go to games for nothing and personally I don’t blame them for accepting them…but to claim/believe Mike Ashley’s motivation is doing this for the benefit of others is truly hilarious. Anybody else benefiting from his NUFC decisions is always purely accidental.

I have seen journalists going down the angle of this being a good thing because it helps fans to be able to afford to go to games.

Unbelievable. Whilst nearly every other major club is now freezing season ticket prices year after year, Mike Ashley increased prices by 5% all around St James Park only a few months ago, this follow summer 2018 where he also put prices up all around the stadium, some having to pay as much as more than 20% last season compared to 2017/18.

Yet now we are supposed to believe that Mike Ashley is doing this to help fans afford to go to games. If that is the case, why didn’t he just send all season ticket holders £100 to help out for Christmas, a similar amount to the extra he has charged many of them compared to only two seasons ago?

Yes, somewhere amongst the 10,000 free season tickets they will reach a small number of people who haven’t been going to games because they can’t afford it. However, this will be a very small number and most definitely isn’t Mike Ashley’s motivation for doing it.

If this was the case, I must have missed the part where it said these free season tickets were being handed out via Food Banks, People’s Kitchen, Salvation Army and Barnardo’s. Alternatively, if this is all about helping the poor and disadvantaged, why haven’t the freebies been distributed via the club’s own Foundation, the charity that works with so many disadvantaged people who would love to get to games?

The truth is, like the vast majority of the other seats inside St James Park, these 10,000 free season ticket seats will be filled by middle class backsides. I know because I am one of them (middle class season ticket holders).

Like the rest of you I was there at my laptop at 10am to get one of the free season tickets. As I say above, one of the rare accidental benefits for any paying fan from Mike Ashley.

Like 95% or more of you, my freebie will simply be used by somebody/some people who either isn’t bothered enough to want to go usually but probably/might go if it it free, or who is currently refusing to give Ashley their money. It isn’t that they can’t afford it, they simply don’t really care any more.

The whole thing of so many empty seats being down to people not able to afford it is a total lie. Yes there are lots of people who would find it difficult/impossible to afford to go to St James Park but we all know that this isn’t why there are so many empty seats this season. It is purely because of Mike Ashley.

Newcastle United averaged over 51,000 in the Championship only three seasons ago. A little hope filled the ground even in the second tier, unbelievable. All because people hoped that Rafa staying, might mean that the club would be ran with ambition in the future, either under Ashley or new owners. Proper investment in the Academy, St James Park, the squad, the training facilities and so on.

It has been shown year after year in the Premier League era that Newcastle fans will fill St James Park despite some of the highest prices in the country, outside of the successful clubs.

Maybe though the most glaring and ridiculously obvious thing that journalists/newspapers are missing with these 10,000 season tickets handed out for free.

Is this.

If it is such a brilliant idea, why doesn’t every other club do it? Indeed why has no other club done it?

Why doesn’t every football club turn around once the season kicks off and when they see empty seats, say to themselves, you know what’s a great idea, we will give all of those unsold season tickets away for free?

They don’t do it because it is a ridiculous thing to do in terms of the longer-term health of any football club to give away thousands of free season tickets.

Mike Ashley is doing this as a very very short-term fix to help his retail empire.

He doesn’t care or even bother thinking about the issues it will cause for NUFC.

The club’s overwhelmingly main job is to make Mike Ashley’s retail empire more profitable. End of.

This free season ticket give away totally devalues the product and leads to all kinds of additional problems down the line, as Mike Ashley will find out next summer.

There are all kinds of other side effects of course. The atmosphere is appalling this season and the thousands and thousands of passionate fans, including those doing the flags, have been driven away, replaced now by a majority of these 10,000 freebies who are only there because it is free.

The club is a total mess and a handful of decent results with Steve Bruce and his team carrying serious luck doesn’t paper over the cracks.

Nor does Mike Ashley filling St James Park with free tickets paper over them either.

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