‘These 500 Newcastle United fans should have been allowed into 2019/20 matches after restart’
The Sheffield United match is set to take place at St James Park on Sunday 21 June with no Newcastle United fans in attendance.
The same with then the Villa and Man City (FA Cup) games that are three and seven days later respectively.
The first away match with no Newcastle United fans in attendance will be the game at Bournemouth on Wednesday 1 July, as well as all other home and away fixtures for the remainder of this 2019/20 season.
It is unprecedented.
Even at the Sunderland away match in 1996 when all away supporters were banned, there were still Newcastle United fans who made it into Roker Park.
Likewise, back in the crazy days of Thatcher, she backed Luton Town when they decided banning all away fans from every match was the way to deal with hooliganism. Still Newcastle United fans made it into the match, assisted in the main by Luton supporters disgusted by what their club was doing.
Whatever the competition, whatever the complications, there would be Newcastle United fans at the match.
I know it is exactly the same for fans of all Premier League clubs and indeed those who support teams in other countries / leagues but I especially feel sorry for this particular group of around 500 or so Newcastle United fans.
The supporters who never miss a match.
The vast majority of Newcastle fans have varying levels of commitment to get to matches and indeed those levels of commitment fluctuate throughout their lives.
Young free and single, like me, many thousands of you will have in the past gone home and away without a care in the world…then life changes as other commitments bite, partners and kids coming along plus for a fair few, the nature of their jobs means every match is no longer possible.
However, we have a hardcore of Newcastle United fans, like most big clubs, where going to the match is a far more serious thing.
Those of us who are football supporters really admire those who never miss a match, whilst outsiders might think it is all a bit sad. That is like most hobbies, fellow enthusiasts will always look up to those that make the extra commitment to follow what they love, whether it is supporting a football team or collecting beer mats.
I would say there are probably around 500 Newcastle United fans who season after season never miss a game (unless absolutely something prevents them going) and haven’t for some time, in some cases you are talking decades.
So I feel really sorry for these people that when we play Sheffield United, they will be sitting at home like the rest of us watching on TV.
I feel sorry for the rest of us as well who might have fancied being inside St James Park, particularly if new owners are in place! However, my days of making every single match are in the past.
I know the government has dictated no fans at all BUT I still think having 500 or so hardcore fans allowed at every Premier League stadium could / should have been possible, maybe 100 or so away fans allowed as well?
When you see the scenes that have gone on for weeks and weeks down south of thousands crammed onto beaches especially, you wonder why 500 football fans couldn’t have been allowed into a stadium that has 100 times that capacity, on the understanding they would socially distance and follow strict guidelines on entering and leaving the stadium.
Then of course there were the protests this past weekend in London and many other cities, far more than 500 gathering together in close proximity, especially in the capital.
At St James Park you could have had 500 Newcastle United fans spread around the Gallowgate, to give us a token crowd presence and allow these supporters to keep at least their longstanding runs of matches at St James Park to continue. Allocating the places to the 500 with most loyalty points, some deserving cases may miss out but that would happen however you did it.
Instead we have reality, the sad sight of an empty St James Park in 12 days time.
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