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Opinion

We have been taught a lesson by our leader Mike Ashley but would still make same decision

10 months ago
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It’s a strange one, this ‘boycott’.

I’m typing this listening to the Everton match on Radio Newcastle as I couldn’t purchase a ticket for the match even if I’d wanted to attend because the game is sold out. So is the Leicester match (Level 7? No thank you).

Most supporters around the country must be thinking that NUFC supporters are so loyal….over 50,000 for matches a few days apart.

I’m into my 53rd year of regularly attending NUFC, sitting next to my son, both of us sitting next to my lifelong friend and his son. They are locked into the temptation of the 10 year season ticket deal; we weren’t, not ever trusting Ashley with too much of our money.

Last season, all four of us were of the opinion that if Rafa left, that was probably it for us. We’re just weary at the way the club has gone the last dozen years or so. It has sucked the life out of us.

Sure enough, we didn’t renew – a huge decision for us for a variety of reasons but my friend and son did automatically renew. I know that many have decided on a complete boycott and I applaud them. Many that I know have decided not to boycott and although absolutely sick and tired of the whole charade, just cannot stop attending.

We decided to basically boycott the televised matches and attend most of the non-televised ones. No doubt some will criticise us for even attending any games but going to the match holds different meanings for different people so we made our decision.

I did have a conversation with my barber, an ex-lifelong supporter, at the beginning of the season. He and his mates had finally had enough of Ashley a couple of years ago. He was part of a big group of attendees and warned me about totally boycotting, like he had. Once you all get out of the habit of going, he said, it’s then so, so easy just not to return.

My mate and his son who automatically renewed have attended about half the matches as their enthusiasm has also waned. Their seats, which they have had for over 25 years, have remained empty when they haven’t attended.

My son and I have attended half of the matches and to be honest, it’s been dreadful, but we’ve enjoyed getting out of the house for about eight hours, catching up with people who we only see on match days.

The thing is, I think that my son and I (naively) felt that we held a bit of power in our decisions whether to attend. I estimate that about 10,000 other supporters felt similar; we might actually start to make a difference. Below 40,000 attendances, which were just around the corner, would have surely have had a detrimental effect on the whole Sports Direct/Ashley model. People were just starting to sit up and notice the attendance decline, however much we manage to scrape results.

Then the free season ticket offer came along.

I could immediately see the writing on the wall for our future attendance and spoke to my season ticket colleague about it. I did suggest that he and his son applied for two tickets next to them (our old seats of many years). We would pay them £30 a ticket to attend, the money going into their pockets rather than us purchasing tickets for ad-hoc games and the money going into the club. My colleague however told me that he couldn’t bring himself to play the Mike Ashley games, couldn’t bring himself to apply for the tickets and I accepted his decision. My colleague’s enthusiasm is waning rapidly.

Looking at ticket availability for the Leicester match, I know now that my son and I don’t have the option to attend as, like Everton, it is sold out (apart from Level 7). Ashley/Charnley/Bruce must be delighted at 10,000 new supporters. I know that my colleague and his son didn’t attend the Everton game, their seats remaining empty. None of us bothered with the Palace game.

As 2020 progresses, basically my son and I will be unable to purchase a ticket for any home matches due to the 10,000 giveaway. My season ticket colleague and his son will attend some of the matches but certainly not all.

How does that make me feel? Well, I think Mike Ashley has succeeded in splitting up a group of regular attendees for the sake of a cheap stunt to fill some seats.

Do I feel like returning next season? Not really after being shafted for the remainder of this season.

If I don’t attend between now and the end of the season, will I feel like attending next season? That remains to be seen. Perhaps the two who are now sitting in our ex seats will love it so much that they will sign up for 10 year season ticket deals. Although I doubt it.

Everyone stands or falls by their decisions. We made our decision; we didn’t renew and now find that attending is probably no longer an option. We have been taught a lesson by our leader.

So was it a good decision? Well put it this way, I’d make the same decision again.

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley will stand or fall by their decision of giving away 10,000 free season tickets but thereby excluding many, many regular attending fans. I’m confident that in a few months time it will be shown that their decision was nothing more than a short-term fix.

The club is built on sand, there appears to be no genuine hope unless finishing a couple of places above relegation every season is classed as hope.

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