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Opinion

The difference between Mike Ashley and previous regimes is he takes the p.ss in broad daylight

11 months ago
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So, canny Mike Ashley is at it again with Monday’s announcement that the club are giving away up to 10,000 half season tickets to current holders.

A move which is as unprecedented as it is foolish and contains many problems which I’ll come to later, problems that clearly haven’t been thought through.

Either that, or they have been, but the person who’s decided this is a good move doesn’t care. Funnily enough that’s a common trait with this owner.

As we know, everything with Mike Ashley is short-term. Make a quick buck today and to hell with tomorrow. I don’t know who advises him but they need sacking and if he advises himself, then he’s as much irrational as he is stupid.

The reason for this latest move will make sense to the owner as I can’t for a minute think he will be happy to give away something for free.

The riches of the Premier League TV revenue back in 2007 when he bought the club soon became mega riches, not long after he took control, and I bet he couldn’t believe in his wildest dreams things could have got so good so quickly. If he inherited problems both financial and institutional from the previous regime, he’s had more than ample time to overcome them and put them right. If he WANTED to. He hasn’t.

So when he takes the unbelievable step of dishing out tickets for free then you can bet your life it’s for a bloody good reason. The truth is that he sees his S****s D****t brand being threatened and under supported. He sees the very reason that he bought the club nearly 13 years ago falling flat on it’s backside and if people across the world see St James Park less than full, then believe me it sends a message.

Can it really be that in 2019, this club, where the fans were notorious for their love of all things Newcastle United, isn’t selling out it’s home ground on a regular basis? Can it really be that attendances are getting to be up to 10k under capacity? If you went back 20 years and said to a Newcastle fan that the only way to get crowds back into St James’ was to give 10,000 tickets away FOR FREE, they’d have you carted off to the funny farm.

But that’s where we are, a product so devalued and tarnished by an owner that he’s had to resort to giving away 10,000 x hundreds of pounds worth of ticket away when years gone by you could probably have charged what the hell you liked and the people would pay it. There was even a waiting list, now people are waiting for their deals to expire so they don’t have the quandry of deciding if to renew or not. In a word- Unbelievable!

This short-termism isn’t new with Ashley and neither is his self-inflicting nature. He’s been the enemy of the club for so long it’s a pointless exercise trying to work out his motives and not come to the conclusion that things are done out of spite, control and self-destruction.

You just have to cast your minds back five months to see how nonsensical and avoidable this move is. Let me (briefly) mention Rafa Benitez. I say ‘briefly’ as it does get a bit annoying bringing him up. After attending the 3-1 win against Southampton (in April 2019) I came to a simple decision. If Rafa Benitez stays at the club, the ticket I had at the time would have been renewed, if he goes, I reasoned that this a clear indicator of continued lack of ambition and failure to move the club forward.

Benitez talked about growing the club, investing in not only the first team but the academy, the training ground and therefore building the club for the future, all the things that the club’s owner refuses to do. The current state of affairs simply wouldn’t have arisen if he had stayed.

It could have been so perfect. A club’s fan base totally united behind the manager and team, regardless of their opinion of the owner. An owner who shamelessly RAISED ticket prices from last season and then took away the only thing that gave the fans hope. That’s not accidental, it’s deliberate.

You could also throw in that we wouldn’t have bought the developing flop that is Joelinton for the alleged £40m and we would likely have seen both Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon retained. Imagine both of them two in this team because let’s be fair, they’d walk into it.

It’s all a case of striving for better, something this owner seems to despise. He simply doesn’t want what’s best for the club and with every move he makes, my decision to make Southampton last season my last game until he goes, gets more and more validated. Having given it up there’s no way you would get me back in St James Park to endorse Mike Ashley’s regime any further. Free ticket or no free ticket, you can stick it where the sun don’t shine.

But again with these free tickets there are problems that I mentioned earlier. What if a fan who gets one of these pressies decides to give it to an away fan attending the game, or even sell it for maximum profit? Don’t think that can’t happen because it will, especially now that it’s been publicised on Sky Sports so that every visiting teams fans now know about the offer and therefore chance to attend their team’s game at St James’ Park in the last half of the season.

What happens when ANY fan, Newcastle or otherwise is chatting away merrily with another supporter who is sat in a seat he’s bought and paid a small fortune for and that fan then realises that the person he’s talking to is in a seat costing them nowt? You surely can’t expect every current season ticket holder who takes the club up on this offer (as generous as it is on face value) to get a free ticket and simply give it to their trusted mates can you?

The reason why people work hard all year is to afford such luxuries as a season ticket and to think that someone who CAN afford one but takes a freebie would be quite galling to some. If you can’t afford a season ticket then the ‘offer’ is a great opportunity to see a game, that fact nobody can deny, regardless of how poor the product on show is to watch.

I suppose we will soon see how many people take up this offer and how it affects attendances in the New Year but as an aside, if you are currently of a position where you despise the owner and disagree with how he’s ran (and continues to run) the club, then you’ll be the biggest hypocrite going if you then went to a game simply because the ticket was free.

Finally, an old fella who has since departed this world once said to me that Newcastle fans were “Daft”. “They’ll turn up to watch anything” he said. Over the years he has been proved correct on both fronts. As Newcastle fans we ARE daft and many DO turn up to watch ANYTHING. The sad fact of the matter is, some also seem to put up with anything as well.

To be shafted left right and centre isn’t anything new at Newcastle United. Of course it happened under previous regimes but Mike Ashley has taken rubbing the fans noses in the brown stuff into hyperspace, he’s made it an art form all at the expense of the club and not for the benefit of it.

The difference between Mike Ashley and previous regimes is he takes the p.ss in broad daylight.

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