The immediate known cost of Newcastle United losing Rafa Benitez now approaches £10m
If one fifth of the Newcastle United tickets are to be given away free of charge for the remainder of the season, that suggests the boycott is costing the club up to a fifth of match day income.
That would be £4.8m of the most recent reported annual matchday income.
This is a similar sum to the compensation Sheffield Wednesday demanded to secure the services of Steve Bruce.
So the immediate known cost of losing Rafa Benitez approaches £10m.
It has been an expensive decision that will only exacerbate losses as the value of tickets to those still willing to pay, has been further devalued by such a short term decision.
Nobody is surprised by the offer.
Ashley was bound to respond to falling crowds as he did with his ten year deal and other cut price offers. However, valuing a half-season ticket at Newcastle at less than a giant Sports Direct mug is the most extreme and the most desperate act yet, of a failed owner buying whatever support he can.
For many years, the justification for NOT boycotting has been that he could give the tickets away for free and not be concerned. And so it has been proved.
At the same time, the boycott and the response to it has brutally exposed Ashley’s disregard for the foundations at the club in an embarrassing fashion.
The proper response of a genuine, committed owner would have been to listen to the concerns of supporters and to act on those concerns:
Invest in the academy.
Invest in training facilities.
In January signings able to provide the attacking style of play the manager wants to play.
Sell advertising space to paying external clients at the highest rate.
Engage personally in genuine communication with NUST.
Appoint a supporter liaison.
Appoint experienced football executives and supporter representatives to the board.
Empower those executives to independently find the best merchandising deal for the club, rather than for the owner.
Return Strawberry Place to the club.
Ensure the maximum away ticket allocations are taken.
Reverse the large ticket price increases the club were able to implement when Rafa Benitez was manager.
The list goes on and on.
Ashley will not tolerate any capitulation whatsoever to any of the concerns that have led supporters to abandon his club. Instead, he takes the decision that will allow him to continue to run the club his way, as a discredited owner, with a full house.
The disingenuous publicity that has accompanied the announcement about being a great deal for fans ignores all of this, which is to be expected from the club, of course, but not from anyone else debating or reporting on the offer.
For those that have paid for season tickets, whether considering joining the boycott or not, the tacit message is “don’t buy another”, because prices fall to zero with demand.
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