Toon For Change : Why we want anti-Ashley fans to join our blue and maroon protest day in 9 days time
I was once asked to describe Newcastle United in three words – “pride, passion and belief” was my response.
However, I’m not sure that those are the words I would use today.
The excitement and anticipation of a match day has been replaced by feelings of emptiness and sadness, and ultimately, this shift in mentality is a result of one thing, Mike Ashley’s ownership of our football club.
I am one of the founders of Toon For Change, we are a protest group formed in the summer of 2019, with the objective of forcing Ashley to sell our football club.
We have since grown to 1,000 members in size and earlier in the autumn we launched our Era of Ambition scarves movement. This initiative encourages fellow anti-Ashley Toon fans to wear blue and maroon scarves as a visible mark of protest against Mike Ashley’s ownership of the club.
Paying homage to our famous 1995/96 away kit, the blue and maroon scarves represent a time when the club showed genuine ambition to be one of the best sides in Europe and also act as a symbolic rejection of Mike Ashley’s disastrous decade at Newcastle United.
We partnered with an independent football merchandise retailer, Football Shop Online, that manufacturers, sells and distributes the scarves. The Toon For Change team does not earn a penny from the sale of scarves – and that’s intentional, as we are a not-for-profit movement.
Since launching in the autumn 1,300 scarves have been bought by Newcastle fans across the world, with scarves being shipped to the US, Australia and India. The scarves can be bought for £7.99 – UK postage is free, shipping to mainland USA, for example costs around $8.
Our #ToonBlueAndMaroon initiative on Saturday January 18th when Newcastle face Chelsea at home (live on TV) encourages Toon fans everywhere to wear blue and maroon as a visible, international mark of protest against Mike Ashley’s ownership of the club. We want the global footballing community to realise that many Newcastle United supporters want Mike Ashley to sell our club to a group that has genuine ambition and wants us to compete for trophies once again.
Tens of thousands of fans are boycotting St James Park, we are among them and missing match days hurts. Thousands of fans didn’t renew season tickets in the summer, while research conducted by our group revealed that the attendances for the first 10 competitive matches of this season were the lowest for a Premier League season since the 1999/2000 season, when St James’ was 36,000 rather than 52,000-seater stadium.
This action taken by supporters resulted in Ashley being forced to give away 10,000 half free season tickets and we view this as a victory for the boycott movement.
However, boycotts are divisive among our fanbase. Some anti-Ashley fans wouldn’t dream of boycotting St James’ and we respect that. So, we’re calling on fans who attend matches to wear blue and maroon scarf on the 18th to show that they do not support Mike Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle United.
People have pointed out that Mike Ashley isn’t going to sell the club just because we are wearing coloured scarves. And they are right. However, part of the fight to force Ashley out of Newcastle United is winning the PR war. We have to show the international football community, be it in person at the match, or on social media, that we are taking a stand against Ashley and that Newcastle supporters around the world are united in doing so.
To put it simply, the blue and maroon day of protest is something that we hope all anti-Ashley fans can get behind wherever they are based and whether they go to games or don’t. If you’re going to the match or watching from home or at the pub with family and friends – wear blue and maroon and use the #ToonBlueAndMaroon hashtag to get involved!
The harsh reality of Newcastle United in 2020 is that 17th position in the Premier League is deemed a success by the club. This shouldn’t be the case – and it doesn’t have to be.
This is not the club we fell in love with and the only way to get the club we loved back, the club that competed for titles, is to force Ashley to sell our club. Let’s show the world we are united in dreaming of more ambitious times – let’s turn the Toon blue and maroon on Saturday January 18th.
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