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In a strange way being a Newcastle United fan has been a help not a hindrance in these strange times

4 weeks ago
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The Newcastle United takeover, football suspended, football now returning, Mike Ashley actions (and inactions), dealing with the virus situation in general, playing matches behind closed doors.

All subjects that as a Newcastle United fan you have had to deal with in recent months.

Ahead of the Magpies returning to competitive action, we have asked some regular and irregular contributors to The Mag, to answer some varying sets of questions relating to themselves and NUFC.

Next up now is Jack Lacey-Hatton.

With hindsight, do you think Premier League football was suspended at the correct time in mid-March, or should it have happened earlier, or maybe you think later…?

I actually thought the PL cancelled the final weekend of matches pre-lockdown very late (some fans had already started to travel by Friday etc) but once Mikel Arteta had the virus it seemed like playing on was no longer an option.

Had it been any earlier we would be struggling to complete the season.

Being a Newcastle United fan, has that been a help or a hindrance in coping with these virus impacted times?

In a strange way yes. The takeover saga, whilst exhausting, has at least given me something football related to keep going during the desert of no games.

Is it the right decision to complete the 2019/20 season?

Yes, completely.

It seems unfair for some sides to have to play home games behind closed doors, particularly clubs whose crowd can have an impact, but it is better than nothing. For me the only two proper options are voiding and nulling the season, or playing it to a full finish, so I am glad they have carried on.

I still don’t get the urgent rush to start next season on time, for the next few years FIFA and UEFA will be (and have to be) flexible with the calendar.

Is football without fans pointless, or is it just not as good?

Just not as good. Clearly it is nowhere near the same but I don’t think people who say they would rather have no football are real fans of the sport. We all like going to the football but it seems some only care about that, rather than the actual football.

Do you think at least a small percentage of fans should have been allowed into games when the Premier League resumes?

Yes, the actual risk at open air events such as football games is pretty minimal if everyone is sensible. I would let in a small percentage asap.

What observations do you have about the media coverage of the potential takeover?

The local media get a lot of stick but are in between a rock and hard place, on balance they have done a pretty good job in difficult circumstances. Some of the national press’ reasons/claims for our fanbase wanting rid of Ashley are frankly laughable.

Do you think the Newcastle United takeover will happen?

I honestly don’t know anymore. Until Ashley comes out with positive noises about it, I remain unconvinced. Surely it still can’t be with the Premier League?

What do you think about the way Mike Ashley has ran Newcastle United during this virus crisis (furloughing staff, no refunds on tickets/season tickets, advance payments taken for 2020/21 season tickets etc etc)?

Disgraceful…but then again it is Ashley and if he really is selling then you would hardly expect him to suddenly have a 180 degree spin on his moral compass.

If the takeover didn’t happen and the 2020/21 season kicked off with Mike Ashley still owning the club, what would be your position as a fan?

My position would be as it has for the last 10 years. I won’t boycott matches but I don’t buy any club merchandise.

I do this purely because he might own Newcastle for another ten years. I can’t not go to a Newcastle game for that long. it doesn’t seem practical above anything else and doesn’t even feel like a choice in that sense.

The situation with Benitez leaving, hurt me more than any other dire episode during this ownership reign, yet I still wasn’t driven to a boycott of matches. That said, I completely empathise with any fan that does boycott games or season tickets.

Do you think the takeover is taking this long because there is something stopping it happening, this is just how long it takes, or do the Premier League have to be seen to taking a long time…or any other thoughts on why no announcement yet?

It seems strange if it is still with the PL. They never normally have a takeover with them for this long. My only reasoning is that the fit and proper persons test might be far more rigorous now than it used to be. If that turns out to be false then I am seriously doubtful it will go through.

What would be your best guess of month (and year!) when you think some fans will be allowed back into Premier League stadiums? Also, when you think full capacity crowds will be allowed?

I have just read articles earlier today about how the virus is becoming weaker as time goes on. In the (potentially false) spirit of that, let’s be optimistic and say October 2020. My only guarantee is they will never play a full season behind closed doors.

Has the virus situation made you think that football / NUFC is more or less important as a distraction/ hobby in your life?

This situation has made me value the real joys in normal life and going to a game at the cathedral on the hill is certainly one of them!

If you could press a magic button, would you choose to have pubs open as normal, or fans able to go to football matches as normal?

The hardest question of the lot…but I would go with fans being allowed to football matches.

I don’t quite say football without fans is nothing but it is certainly very little by comparison. I genuinely believe open air stadiums will be less of a risk than some larger but closed pubs as well, if the virus is still around for the rest of the year.

You can follow the author on Twitter @JackLaceySport

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