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Opinion

Why I was secretly relieved that the Newcastle United takeover failed

3 months ago
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When I heard the news that the Newcastle United takeover was off, I felt a flurry of different emotions all at once.

I was angry that again we had so easily let ourselves get excited over nothing, frustrated that this time it had been snatched away at the very last second, and, more than anything, I was simply upset.

Yet perhaps strangely, somewhere in the back of my mind there was also a deep sense of relief that the whole saga was finally over.

Football has always been about identity, pitting city against city for ninety minutes in the battle for bragging rights and the pride found in the knowledge that for this season at least, we were better than them.

This feeling is certainly much stronger at Newcastle United than most other clubs. The team’s performance on the pitch often determines the mood of the city itself, and after the game football lives on in the conversations of fans at home, work or in the pub.

The strong regional identity of the North East certainly plays a role in all this, and despite the lack of success in recent years, it is certainly true that Newcastle United fans still have a lot to be proud of. The excellent work done by the NUFC fans food bank, for example, as well as the dozens of other local charities supported by fans and players every year, is something that not even Mike Ashley can take away from us.

So why am I saying all this?

I often see fans tweet about how the club is portrayed in the media, saying that they dislike us because we are not one of the top six, because we are not from the south, or complaining about how poorly informed pundits fawn over the supposed ‘excellent job’ Steve Bruce has done this season.

Whether we like it or not, this has now also become a part of the identity of the club. We are the outsider, the sleeping giant in a permanent state of internal conflict, desperately stuck in the past with no desire to do anything more than the bare minimum required to stay up.

Football is no longer the same sport it was when we last experienced any domestic success.

It is a game of soundbites, controversy and big money, tailored to fatten the wallets of owners and shareholders. Is this really something that we really want to be a bigger part of?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if we choose to ignore the glaring ethical concerns behind the takeover, I don’t believe it would have been as good as we’d all hoped.

In other words, we would have risked simply becoming a larger, shinier cog in the commercial machine, polished and stripped clean of our identity.

For me, no amount of money is worth losing what it means to be a Geordie.

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