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Opinion

‘The question is, who deserves a Newcastle United season ticket after the takeover?’

4 months ago
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Who deserves a Newcastle United season ticket?

This is a debate that I have noticed raging, off and on, ever since this takeover looked like it was really, almost certainly, going to happen.

The scales well and truly tipped the other way, from Mike Ashley having to give 10,000 free season tickets away to cover up his neglect and protect the look / value of his advertising, to now Newcastle fans worrying about how they are going to get into St James Park.

Obviously none of us know when anyone is ever going to be allowed into the stadium(s) once again…

Not that this has stopped Mike Ashley of course, still insisting on taking full advance season ticket money for the 2020/21 season by direct debit from many Newcastle fans back in March, as well as continuing to take advance monthly payments from thousands of supporters for next season. This despite none of us knowing when thee 2020/21 season will kick-off and then how long after that, when fans will be allowed into stadiums.

Anyway, apologies for digressing, that particularly bit of appalling Mike Ashley behaviour isn’t what I wanted to talk about on my debut for The Mag (presuming this gets published…).

It is the question of who deserves a Newcastle United season ticket that concerns me and has prompted me to write, rather than just read, for the first time.

I will quickly explain my back story for context.

I have supported Newcastle United since the seventies, both home and away, although like many of you, the away trips have decreased as life gets in the way and simply don’t have as much free time and indeed money to travel away like I did back in the good old days.

Anyway, I paid each home match to stand in the Leazes and then when that was pulled down (one of saddest NUFC times ever), the Gallowgate, before then a season ticket in my spiritual home (the Leazes End, where Geordies never end and…) until 2015.

You knew this football club had really reached rock bottom under Mike Ashley when he gave the job to John Carver, his ultimate patsy appointment. With even just a couple of more wins instead of only three in twenty games, Carver would undoubtedly have been made a permanent puppet boss, not just temporary.

Anyway, that was enough for me finally, I couldn’t give Ashley my money any longer and both me and my son walked away.

We all know what followed, Mike Ashley leading Newcastle to a predictable second relegation in the space of seven seasons.

However, for me, it wasn’t a disastrous season for Newcastle as a club. Mike Ashley had damaged the club so badly, that when miraculously Rafa Benitez said he was willing to come in, even Ashley knew that finally he had to accept he needed a proper manager to repair the harm he’d inflicted, especially when a top class one like Rafa came calling.

We went back to those remaining games of the 2015/16 relegation season because of Rafa’s arrival, giving us hope just maybe of a properly run club sometime in the future, hopefully without Ashley, but if he (Benitez) was willing to stay on, then that would surely mean that Ashley had accepted he had to allow the club to progress and give power to those who knew what they were doing and realistic funds to achieve progress.

So even though the inevitable relegation happened (despite 12 points from Rafa’s final six games that season), I was more than happy to get a Newcastle United season ticket again, as was my son. Championship football was irrelevant, Mike Ashley had given Rafa Benitez 100% assurances, so he had committed to a three year contract.

Of course, we now know that that was most definitely 100%, only it was 100% lies. Mike Ashley did give Rafa proper backing in the first transfer window, although Benitez still generated £40m profit on transfers in and out in summer 2016.

After that though it quickly became apparent how badly Rafa had been lied to, Mike Ashley  promising ‘every penny’ but clearly reality was anything but.

Fast forward to the end of last season and it was just like summer 2015, Mike Ashley driving Rafa Benitez out of the club to pursue his own mad plans of choosing the players himself who would be signed and appointing another puppet in Bruce to facilitate that. Almost as woefully inadequate as Carver in deserving the job.

Hope had well and truly left the building once again and so did we, the son and myself no longer holders of a Newcastle United season ticket.

Maybe the stand out moment in Ashley’s 13 years is when in December (2019) he gave away those 10,000 season tickets, in just over two years we went from full houses in the Championship to over 10,000 empty seats in the Premier League.

So who ‘deserves’ to fill those seats now, once we have takeover and fans are allowed back in?

Who deserves most to be front of the queue for a Newcastle United season ticket?

Well, clearly those who currently have a season ticket should be guaranteed the chance to renew under new owners, that is of course those who have paid, not the ones on freebies.

After that though, how do you decide? Those who can prove they have been to the most matches in their lives? Those who only gave their season ticket up last summer when Rafa left? Those who gave up season tickets when Keegan was forced out? Anybody who has given up a season ticket during Ashley’s malicious reign?

It is simple really.

When the season tickets are made available, all fans who don’t already have one, get the chance to try and buy a Newcastle United season ticket. First come first served and when they are sold out, the unlucky ones go on a waiting list for when later some don’t renew and when / if SJP is expanded, or indeed if a new stadium is built.

Do I feel I am more deserving of a season ticket than others?

Maybe. However, that is just the way it is.

I have been to 1,000+ NUFC games home and away but somebody who has never been to a single one, could get one and I don’t.

When I walked away the first time, over 200 loyalty points were lost in 2015 on each of the season tickets. When I got them again in summer 2016, the club still had all my details on computer and it was simple to buy them again BUT I didn’t get the loyalty points back because that was just one of the ways Mike Ashley tried to blackmail you to continue going.

I knew that would be the case and whilst obviously I think it is a disgrace how Mike Ashley used and abused ‘loyalty’ at NUFC, I don’t regret what I did.

I am desperate to get a season ticket again but I don’t regret walking away. I felt it was the right thing to do and it might just play some minute part in him accepting he had to sell up at last. Who knows what finally pushed him to do so and indeed I think probably a combination of factors have done the trick, a global pandemic, worldwide recession, troubles with his retail empire and yes, I think having to give 10,000 season tickets away played a part as well. The spell was broken, he was never ever going to be able to fill SJP with paying customers if he stayed, indeed crowds were only going to go one way.

I would rather miss out on a Newcastle United season ticket forever, than have Mike Ashley stay as owner.

I will see you in the season ticket queue on the other side of this virus crisis.

No regrets.

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