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Tyne Talk

Comment: Discovering secret path to lead you through moral maze of the Newcastle United takeover

2 years ago

The only people who see an easy answer to this Newcastle United takeover situation, are those who have no emotional input in NUFC.

If you are a Newcastle fan, no matter how much you might see the reasons as overwhelming as to why the Saudis shouldn’t be allowed to buy our club, at least some small part of you would still wonder what could have been?

You will / would also have conversations inside your head where as much as you see all the moral downsides if this takeover happened, you would also acknowledge that the NUFC staff and fans, the city of Newcastle and the general population, will all almost certainly benefit compared to what we have experienced under Mike Ashley…and will / would continue to do so if he stayed.

I am not talking about buying players for more money and even, shock horror, even competing to win things.

I am talking about things like refusing to take responsibility for paying your permanent staff during such desperate times in this virus crisis.

Refusing to pay your casual matchday workers as normal during this crisis as other decent clubs are doing.

Taking full advance season ticket payments a month ago (March 2020) for 2020/21 by direct debit just because you could do – for a season which nobody knows when it will start and very likely fans not allowed in when it does kick-off!

The same with those paying monthly in advance – not allowing payment holidays as other clubs have done until we know when next season might start.

These are of course only what has happened in recent weeks, the tip of a very big iceberg of disgraceful actions by Mike Ashley these past 13 years.

Discriminating against a cancer victim in Jonas Gutierrez, treating club legends Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer disgracefully and using campaigns of PR dirty tricks against them to try and win the argument.

You have the renaming of St James Park and of course the massive decade long free promotion of Sports Direct, all just to personally benefit Ashley and his retail empire. All but one NUFC club shops shut down and staff losing jobs, just to push people into using SD stores instead.

Selling club land to himself and then selling it on to developers for a personal profit, land that if it is developed on by outsiders, would almost certainly ensure no future sizeable expansion of SJP (average crowds of over 51,000 in second tier in 2016/17) would be possible – even under ambitious new owners…

For those with no emotional attachment to Newcastle United though, the decision is very much black and white, as clear as that.

For them, having no Newcastle United takeover is 100% risk free, they quite literally have nothing to lose.

They don’t care that Mike Ashley would still be here, using and abusing both the staff and fans of Newcastle United. Stifling ambition, ensuring minimal if any enjoyment of supporting NUFC, the erosion / disappearance of pride in our club which is in many ways the beating heart of our city.

Just like they haven’t cared about what Mike Ashley has done to our club and city these past 13 years, these people would once again completely forget about and ignore us, if this Newcastle United takeover was stopped.

It is so easy when you have no emotional attachment, you don’t care that Mike Ashley doesn’t feel any social responsibility when owning this football club.

The club push the Newcastle United Foundation to justify / cover for Mike Ashley and the reality is that all Premier League clubs have foundations, it is how central grants via the Premier League for charitable projects are put into action at the 20 PL clubs. The foundation is a stand alone from the club and is funded almost entirely by these grants that all PL clubs receive and by generous local people and fundraising by staff, it isn’t Mike Ashley who funds it. Any financial help or benefits from the club is minimal, at other PL clubs the owners have contributed significant sums, Mike Ashley hasn’t.

If the Newcastle United takeover did happen, then I would be amazed if the new Saudi financed ownership didn’t channel significant cash to help the foundation, as well as other charitable things like the local foodbanks, amongst a range of other community help. Not just doing the bare minimum and trying to take maximum credit, instead doing something of substance, especially putting up money (In March, to help in the current crisis, including due to no matchday collections for foodbanks, the likes of Man City, Liverpool and Man Utd have all donated large sums of cash to the foodbanks, as well as donations of food that would have otherwise been wasted. How much cash has Mike Ashley and NUFC donated?).

I can already hear detractors saying that yes, Tyneside and the people might benefit from the NUFC takeover but look at the regime providing the money.

I completely understand that point BUT my point is that without this takeover, nothing will change for the better at Newcastle United, my feeling is that Mike Ashley is agreeing to this deal only because it is far better than he might get off anybody else. No club sale this time and I think every chance we are stuck with the status quo for many more years.

When it comes to the moral side of the argument, there is no argument…

However, when the UK government and the Queen continue to embrace the Saudi regime (as well as China, Qatar and the rest) and even allow the supply of billions of pounds worth of arms from UK companies, it is beyond ridiculous to put such a higher duty of care on fans of a a football club.

Particularly when Newcastle fans have zero say or votes in who actually owns their football club, as evidenced for these past 12 years.

I am always happy to pay more for free range eggs.

I would happily pay more at the petrol station if there were a choice of pumps, a ‘nice’ supplier of oil / petrol, rather than the Saudi pump.

I would tick a box at any general election to pay more tax if that extra money was ringfenced and would mean more funds for the NHS.

I am happy to publish articles on The Mag now and after the takeover, that call for the Saudi regime to be progressive when it comes to human rights, if they want to be seen as suitable / credible owners of our football club (Also happy to publish articles from those fans who believe that the Saudi PIF shouldn’t be allowed to buy NUFC).

I would also be very happy to see less wealthy new owners replacing Mike Ashley, if they fitted in with what most of us would see as people with less negative baggage outside of football.

I would be very happy to see a utopia where all Premier League clubs had fans with the majority of shares. Not fans running clubs necessarily but those elected to do so on our behalf, removed if they aren’t delivering on expectations.

Which is of course the big problem, there is as much democracy with Premier League clubs as there is in Saudi Arabia.

Newcastle United and the rest ran by self-appointed dictators (owners) just as countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and China are run.

If people want to stop the likes of the Saudis and others owning Premier League clubs, then you need to change the way that football is ran in England.

I would vote for that.


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