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Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley need to answer these questions after communication promise

3 weeks ago
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Over 12 months ago, Mike Ashley minion Lee Charnley admitted on behalf of his boss, that the club had failed Newcastle fans.

The club’s MD stating that the communication with supporters hadn’t been good enough.

Lee Charnley going on to commit to far better communication moving forward…

Those promises came on the very first day of the 2019/20 season. Newcastle at home to Arsenal on 11 August 2019 and Lee Charnley having his very own column in the match programme (see below).

We have learnt over a considerable amount of time to treat promises made by Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley with the utmost scepticism and sure enough, we haven’t been disappointed.

The club’s communication with Newcastle fans has somehow managed to be even worse than below in this past year, reaching a record all-time low during this virus-impacted period.

In reality of course, that Lee Charnley column was really only about nine words and dressed up to make it to be about communications with supporters, Mike Ashley instead doing everything he could to try and make out that Rafa was the villain of the situation when leaving Newcastle, Ashley’s PR people including the following in ‘Charnley’s’ programme article: ‘let’s be clear, he [Rafa Benitez] moved to China for money.’

Coming back to the present day and things are reaching farcical proportions, in terms of Newcastle United refusing to update the supporters on pretty much anything of important. Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley need to answer these questions after that communication promise from 12 months ago.

Instead, we just see Steve Bruce sent out time after time in front of the cameras to say how difficult everything is now (through no fault of Mike Ashley of course – according to Bruce), the virus situation negatively affecting everything for all clubs… then repeat and repeat.

QUESTIONS for Mike Ashley to answer

Newcastle United takeover

None of us expected a running commentary from Ashley on the takeover situation BUT now at the very least, there has to be an official statement made by the club, with Mike Ashley’s name on, giving some sort of explanation and transparency to fans about where we all stand now with it.

After the Saudi PIF consortium pulled out on 30 July 2020, within 24 hours of that statement from the bidding side, we did hear from Mike Ashley, kind of, as he released his own statement via Lee Charnley via Sky Sports:

“We acknowledge yesterday’s statement [from the Saudi PIF backed consortium].

“Never say never, but to be clear Mike Ashley is 100% committed to this deal (sale).

“However our current focus must now be on supporting Steve Bruce in the transfer market and on the preparations for the new season.”

This is not normal.

Any club with all this takeover uncertainty, would be putting out their own proper statement directly to the fans and that needs to happen ASAP. Not counting on it though…

INJURIES

Again, we don’t expect instant updates on the hour every hour.

However, on Thursday morning we have found out via the Slovakian national coach that Martin Dubravka is out injured, could be missing up to eight weeks. The club belatedly putting out an official statement on Thursday afternoon confirming the injury, why wait until others have already confirmed it?

Sky Sports on Thursday morning are saying Dwight Gayle is set to be missing for months and not weeks with his latest injury, again, nothing from the club so far.

MISSING PLAYERS

A total farce as Joelinton and Yoshinori Muto have taken no part at all in pre-season so far, including Tuesday’s friendly.

The club refusing to comment at all on the matter.

Thursday afternoon has now seen Craig Hope of The Mail saying that Joelinton has been on holiday in Mykonos and makes the point, that a number of other Premier League players have also arrived back from the same destination and are now in quarantine, including some from Chelsea.

FURLOUGHED STAFF

The club have never officially confirmed at any time that they furloughed almost all non-playing staff.

Neither have they at any point told fans if / when these NUFC staff members have gone back to work.

SEASON TICKET REFUNDS

Many season ticket holders are saying that they haven’t been contacted regarding their season ticket refund.

Others who were contacted are saying they are still waiting for a refund.

The thing that both groups appear to have in common is that it is all but impossible to communicate with anybody at Newcastle United.

Which brings us back to the question of whether all / any of the furloughed staff are back at work?

TRANSFER WINDOW

Steve Bruce said before last season ended that they had already made moves to land a number of players, whilst in that Lee Charnley / Mike Ashley ‘statement’ after the Saudi PIF offer was pulled, they stated: ‘our current focus must now be on supporting Steve Bruce in the transfer market and on the preparations for the new season.’

Not a penny spent so far and only two weeks until the new season. What happened to the signings that they had lined up back in July and why did even Jeff Hendrick take a month or so to sign as a free transfer? The midfielder missing the pre-season training camp near York and the first friendly.

Claims have been made that Jeff Hendrick has been self-isolating after arriving back from a holiday.

If that indeed was the reason for some of the delay, why can’t the club just tell us?

RETURN OF FANS TO ST JAMES PARK

Why not any communication with fans on this very important topic, why do supporters have to rely on info from elsewhere?

What are the club doing, if anything, to help prepare for this eventuality? Other clubs are regularly in contact with their fans about this, why not NUFC?

Brighton offered their stadium for the trialling of fans back in stadiums and Saturday sees 2,500 Brighton supporters set to watch a friendly v Chelsea at the Amex. Needless to say, if there are then trials done for Premier League games ahead of a limited return for all clubs, it will be the likes of Brighton fans and not Newcastle fans who will be getting into early games.

Did Mike Ashley offer St James Park for the trials and if not, why not? We should have it communicated.

LIVE TV GAMES

As things stand, Newcastle fans won’t be able to see all games (legally) via live TV, as is the case with the other Premier League clubs.

Are Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley pressurising the Premier League and broadcasters on behalf of fans to allow this, if nit why not, and either way we should be told.

The above are just SOME of the topics (I’m sure you can flag up many more) that Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley could / should be communicating on with Newcastle fans.

I don’t expect all of them with hourly updates BUT it isn’t acceptable that there is NO communication on anything!

Lee Charnley in the match programme for the Arsenal match on Sunday 11 August 2019:

“We go into today’s match following changes on and off the pitch over the summer months.

“I appreciate it has been at times, and certainly during the early part of the break, a period of uncertainty for supporters.

“We want to communicate clearly and proactively, but it is important that we do so at the right time.

“Sometimes we must adopt a ‘no comment’ policy and I accept that can be – and has been – frustrating. There are reasons behind that approach.

“Often, there are legalities at play or we may take the decision in order to respect the integrity of a process or the individuals involved. What we won’t do is fuel speculation by offering a running commentary.

“Instead, when we have something definitive to say, we will say it, as we did as soon as Rafa’s position became clear.

“We understand and expected the disappointment that Rafa’s departure caused. We strongly believe we went beyond what could reasonably be asked in order to keep him. But let’s be clear, he moved to China for money.

“Whilst I have stated above that I felt our approach during the summer was necessary, I accept we need to do more from a communication perspective moving forward.

“There is certainly a need to communicate more as a club and to let fans know where we are heading collectively.

“That goes beyond the responsibility of just the head coach or manager in isolation; something we have relied on far too heavily in the past.

“We want to give you more of an insight into what happens across the club and you will therefore be hearing more from me, as you are today…”

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