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After shameful attack on Newcastle United fans NUST have written this letter to the New Statesman

2 months ago
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Newcastle United fans have long needed tough skins.

It hasn’t just been a ‘few’ years without winning trophies that they have had to defend when it comes to our belief that Newcastle United are a ‘big club’, despite the lack of silverware.

Off the pitch NUFC supporters have seen a shambles of a club for most / all of their lives and whenever pointing this out, the stock reaction from the media has been to accuse fans of being deluded when demanding a club that tries to be the best it can be.

Things weren’t a bed of roses for most of the 50 or so years before 2007 but certainly these 13 years of Mike Ashley’s ownership have seen the Newcastle fans needing armour-like, never mind tough, skins when dealing with the media.

Difficult to believe but with imminent new owners on the horizon, it is the Newcastle United fans who have found themselves under constant attack, due to the identity of the new owners.

Supporters who have no say in the matter, of who owns their club, expected to justify why Mike Ashley is going to pocket £300m+ from a bid mainly financed by the Saudi PIF.

Many Newcastle fans understand and accept the use of this imminent football club takeover, by various parties, to draw attention to the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia

However, some of the media coverage has been a disgrace in terms of journalists abusing Newcastle United fans, going way beyond any line of acceptability.

One such extreme case is an article by Jonathan Liew in the New Statesman…

NUST (Newcastle United Supporters Trust) have made the following statement to their members, including reproducing the letter (see below) they have sent to the New Statesman demanding an apology after their outrageous attack on Newcastle United fans:

‘The board of the Trust were dismayed to read an article in the New Statesman by respected and awarded winning sports journalist Jonathon Liew. The general tone of the article was, in our opinion, offensive toward the vast majority of Newcastle United supporters.

From a Trust perspective we were appalled to read the following line in Mr Liew’s piece:

‘Asked whether they would be in favour of their club being purchased by a state culpable for numerous human rights abuses and accused of a litany of war crimes in Yemen, 97 per cent of respondents to a survey by the Newcastle United Supporters Trust said they would.’

We will not allow our members to be defamed in this manner. As you will be aware the question in our survey was:

‘Would you approve of a takeover of Newcastle United via the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, the Reuben Brothers and Amanda Staveley as is widely reported in the media?’.

We have emailed the New Statesmen the following on the matter:

“Dear Sirs,

I write in reference to the article titled ‘Newcastle fans back the club’s takeover by Saudi Arabia. Do they bear moral responsibility?’ written by Jonathan Liew and published by the New Statesman on 20th May 2020. This article includes a number of factually incorrect statements in relation to the Newcastle United Supporters Trust (“the Trust”).

The following statement is not true ‘Asked whether they would be in favour of their club being purchased by a state culpable for numerous human rights abuses and accused of a litany of war crimes in Yemen, 97 per cent of respondents to a survey by the Newcastle United Supporters Trust said they would.’

The survey referenced in the article did not ask our members ‘whether they would be in favour of their club being purchased by a state culpable for numerous human rights abuses and accused of a litany of war crimes in Yemen,’.

This is a fabrication and a clear breach of the Editors Code published by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (“IPSO”) section 1, Accuracy.

This statement is factually inaccurate and is potentially harmful to the longstanding reputation of the Trust and its members. In addition the article is entirely one sided and does not reflect the true circumstances of the situation at hand and is in general defamatory to Newcastle United supporters.

We provide you with this opportunity to remove this line from the article and publish an apology.

If the article is not amended and apology published within 24 hours of this correspondence we will seek further action as advised by our legal advisors (on our current understanding that the New Statesman is not a member of IPSO).”

Sadly, at the time of writing, we have yet to receive a response from the New Statesmen. The article remains on their website in the original form and has gone into the print version of their magazine (page 40). There are many other troubling aspects of Mr Liew’s article and we understand why Newcastle United supporters are deeply unhappy with it. It was heartening to see some positive, robust responses on social media that didn’t resort to abuse. Despite our objection to the article no journalist, activist or fan deserves abuse for their point of view. However it is important that football fans are able to stand up for themselves. Sadly many professionals paid to write and speak about the game have viewed Newcastle United supporters as easy targets to ridicule.

We will be pursuing this with the New Statesmen in the aim of receiving an apology for you, the members. What they have published is unfair and untrue. We will update members when we can on what happens next. As a board it is essential that the Trust speaks out for Newcastle United Supporters.

(To join thousands of other fans as members of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust go HERE)

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