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Opinion

It’s been particularly striking just how little any journalist actually knows about Newcastle United takeover

3 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 Aaron Gales.

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

I think what has been particularly striking is just how little anybody actually seems to know.

I’m not convinced the journalists who allegedly have their fingers on the pulse know any more than we do.

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)?

I don’t think anyone can really be surprised at the way he has responded.

In fact I would have been surprised if he had behaved in any other way.

Other football clubs didn’t cover themselves in glory either but quickly backtracked when they saw the way public opinion was swaying, Liverpool being an obvious example. Mike Ashley has behaved exactly as I would have expected him to.

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?

Very very difficult.

I attracted a lot of criticism in the comments section on this website when I wrote my first article for The Mag, saying why I wouldn’t boycott the Arsenal game.

A lot of people confused that with me supporting the regime but that was never the case.

At the time I felt that supporting the eleven players on the pitch took precedence over everything. Nobody is more surprised than me how my feelings have changed over time.

I don’t actually live in Newcastle anymore and travel hundreds of miles just to go to the home games.

With clubs like Bolton Wanderers on my doorstep, who have just had relegation to League Two confirmed, every fan through the turnstiles in the future matters to them. If the NUFC takeover is dead by the start of next season I can certainly see myself looking for alternative options, which is something I never thought I would have said 12 months ago.

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…?

With the benefit of hindsight I think it probably should have been earlier.

Events in this country were already starting to look pretty bleak when we played Burnley at the end of February.

Was having 50,000 people in such close proximity a good idea? The way things have gone since, would suggest probably not.

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

A mixture of both really.

The time off has been almost completely dominated by talk of the takeover. So initially excitement about what the future might hold, which has gradually turned to apprehension as it has dragged on and on.

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

Absolutely. For the integrity of the competition going forward I think it was vital to get it finished.

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

I don’t think it’s pointless.

For someone who has missed football and sport in general, as much as I have, I’ll take anything at this point.

I’ve watched a lot of the German football and if the game you are watching is good, you quickly forget that there are no fans in the stand.

It’s undoubtedly better with full stadiums but it’s certainly not pointless without it.

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

I can see the argument for it, particularly when you look at non-essential shops opening this week, but how do you make the decision? It would have been impossible to decide.

I think the approach of behind closed doors is the right one – at least until the 2019-20 season is finished.

Do you think the Newcastle United takeover will happen?

Yes I think it will happen and I think it would have already, had the Premier League not been so tied up with getting everything in place to allow the 2019-20 season to finish.

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’s clearly a combination of things.

Covid-19 has obviously had an impact, there is the TV piracy issue and then simply the moral issue about the people who want to buy our club.

My personal view is that I want the takeover to happen – 13 years of Mike Ashley and I’ll take anyone.

Do I have reservations about the people who want to buy our football club? Absolutely. I think most fans if they are honest with themselves do.

I’d much rather a Geordie billionaire who genuinely cared about the club was taking over but that isn’t the situation we currently find ourselves in. I think it will happen quite quickly now the season has resumed and the Premier League have time devote to other things.

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 think it might be sooner than we think.

There are lots of dire predictions that we won’t see fans in stadiums next season either but I think we will.

I’m not a scientist but what I do know is that at some point life is going to have to return to normal. If people can flock in their thousands to places like the Metro Centre, why can’t football fans sit in the open air and watch a game?

It’s not without risk, of course it’s not. I don’t think it will be at the start of the season because that seems to be the period (September/October) when they seem to be anticipating a second wave but I could certainly see it in January/February time. I think a lot hinges on if and when an effective vaccine is developed.

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

I think it’s made me realise how important football is to me.

I’ve really enjoyed watching the German, Spanish and Italian football as their competitions have resumed over the last few weeks. However, I think the virus situation will help me enjoy and appreciate football more.

I spend a lot of time at St James Park shouting myself silly, filled with frustration – even when we do win. I think I’ll certainly try and relax and enjoy it a bit more when it does resume.

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?

Fans to be able to go to football matches.

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