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Pivotal moment for Newcastle United – Decision will dictate future of the club for a very long time

4 years ago

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

All subjects that Newcastle United fans 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 Jamie Smith.

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…?

Earlier, I don’t think it’s even a matter of opinion. Every country that shut down quicker than ours has had a better recovery from the virus and even elements close to the government are now accepting more lives could have been saved had there been a swifter response to lockdown.

How would you describe the impact of these last three or four months on yourself?

I’ve been working from home full-time with my wife doing the same and our 3 kids at home needing home schooled, entertained, exercised etc. It’s been emotionally draining at times but I feel lucky to be in such a stable position compared to others who might have had their lives thrown into turmoil by all this.

I think it’s just different day to day isn’t it? Some days you get stuff done, everything goes well and you’re ok about the whole situation, then other times it’s easy to crash and feel a bit down.

This is the stinker with the takeover, it should have added some light relief to an already tricky time, and the way it has been  drawn out it’s actually made it worse in my opinion.

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

I think it is. The country seems to be reopening by the day and the risk associated with playing games behind closed doors is minimal, given the luxury of the testing players have available. Having said all that, I totally agree with people like Troy Deeney, who have particular reasons to exclude themselves, being allowed to do so without any backlash.

There’s also the factor of how long we wait to resume life, the only decisive factor would surely be a vaccine, which is potentially years away, so a risk conscious way to move forward is needed for this season, next season and the wider economy. Clubs in the lower leagues must already have varying fears of going to the wall and that’s just football, unfortunately there needs to be some effort at a considered economic recovery before ruin and poverty become bigger issues than Covid-19.

Newcastle win the FA Cup, their first domestic trophy in 65 years, and there isn’t a single Newcastle fan there to see it happen. Discuss.

F.cking typical. This would be the most Newcastle thing that could possibly happen.

Seriously, how’s it going to feel when the cup restarts?

Willing us on to win games for what would be the greatest anticlimax in the history of sports? I think we’ll have to see when things restart whether it’s edge of the seat heart-in-mouth stuff or if the Man City game just feels a bit meh, with part of you sort of hoping we just go out.

Especially if, all being well, we can have a serious go at ending the trophy drought in proper fashion in the coming years.

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

Theoretically you could absolutely let a few hundred/couple of thousand people into SJP without them coming close to another person.

However, our fan base has proven over recent years they would argue with each other over whose invisible hat fits best, or how many sausages it would take to reach the moon, so I’d hate to be in charge of sorting out who exactly gets the golden tickets.

Best idea I’ve got would be a nomination process – fans who have been on the front line in all of this, people who haven’t missed a game in x years, families with special events coming up who could attend together etc.

Are you in favour of the Saudi PIF takeover of Newcastle United?

I wrote a piece to this effect recently.

In a nutshell, bad blokes rule the world and everything is unfair. The difference proper investment in NUFC and the city could make to lives around here is immense, so why shouldn’t we accept the “end user guilt” associated with a tiny portion of that obscene wealth filtering our way?

It would make a hell of a lot more difference than the chunk headed into Eddie Hearn’s pocket if the Fury/Joshua fight goes ahead out there, or the profits Disney makes from the PIF’s investment expanding their presence in the Middle East.

It’s not ideal but you’ll still watch that fight and you’ll still watch the next Star Wars, so why should it be any different for NUFC and our neglected locality?

Do you think the Newcastle United takeover will happen?

It’s p.ssing me right off like. The sensible answer seems to be that no red flags can reasonably be raised by comparing the detail of the bid to the Premier League owners process, so the delay can only be down to deep dive investigations that give the PL a watertight response to any inevitable public outcry that follows an approval.

The longer it goes on though, and the more the meddling letters pile up, the easier it is to get down about the whole thing. We’re in total limbo as a club and a fan base because of this, with Ashley’s mob hanging on to piles of people’s money for games they definitely can’t get into and no one seems to give a toss as week after miserable week rolls past. Next thing, if we get a couple of rubbish results after the restart, this uncertainty will be getting the blame for that too.

How confident are you, as a percentage, that the NUFC will happen?

Around 80% – based mainly on the logical conclusions of people who know better.

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?

I can’t even get my head round that in the weird world we currently live in.

Too much to sort out:

Could the whole narrative drag on for another couple of months and we’re waiting on the Staveley group to appeal the PL decision or something, or will it be definitively over and done with/dead in the water by then?

Will anyone be able to go to games next season even if they wanted to?

It genuinely feels so long off, I haven’t even thought about what I would do and probably won’t until something happens.

Do you feel this takeover is the pivotal moment for Newcastle United, that whichever way it goes will dictate the future of the club for a long long time?

I reckon it is yeah. If the takeover got kiboshed, the story of this American bloke who’s allegedly next cab off the rank seems to be another flight of fancy.

That leaves us stuck with Ashley in a depreciating economic situation with a playing model that will get found out if attempted again. We’re proper screwed. The takeover opens huge doors as we will become vastly more competitive at a time when others may have to take a more frugal approach. I actually think we’ll spend massive in the first window while it’s a buyers market and the austerity of recent years gives plenty of spending possibility within FFP.

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 by the end of this year, maybe not for the start of this season. I think the logical next step is probably near enough full capacity with an emphasis on common sense: if you are vulnerable or showing signs of infection you are urged to stay away, but it’s a self-certifying free-for-all.

I’m going to stick my neck out and say people will be allowed in for September, which will likely be the start of the season. However, this is 2020 so I can’t really factor in the killer badger plague, Trump nuking the sun or whatever other jolly tidings next month will bring.

If the takeover happens, what ideally should happen with each of these four…

Steve Bruce – Thanked for a reasonable effort and moved on respectfully

Matty Longstaff – New contract on reasonable terms

Lee Charnley – binned off back to selling extended warranties at PC World

Andy Carroll – Don’t have strong feelings either way, hopefully we’ll not have room in the squad for someone who plays so little, but I wouldn’t be furious if whoever was manager wanted to keep him on for a year as back up.

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?

This might be the most difficult thing I’ve ever been asked.

I think if the takeover goes through the match wins because it’ll be a very exciting time.

If it doesn’t, get me in the pub.

Is that a cop out?

Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf


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