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Opinion

Astonishing as Newcastle fans attack journalist who questions Mike Ashley virus crisis communication

1 month ago
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Yesterday (Tuesday 8 December), Mike Ashley / NUFC finally communicated with Newcastle fans about the virus situation at the club.

The first team squad had last trained at their Benton base on Thursday 26 November ahead of the Crystal Palace match.

Since then the Newcastle United players had been forced to stay away from their training ground, after it was shut due to a virus outbreak.

Newcastle fans not hearing anything for a week and a half from Mike Ashley and the club, apart from an announcement on Tuesday 1 December to inform everybody that the Aston Villa match was postponed and the training ground was still closed.

No communication / update whatsoever from the club until yesterday with this Newcastle United Twitter message – Tuesday 8 December 2020:

“Newcastle United’s players will train at the Training Centre today following a temporary closure last week due to a rise in Covid-19 cases.

“Those who had tested positive will follow relevant protocols before returning.

“Thanks for your messages of support to our players and staff.”

Responding to the club’s tweet, Luke Edwards who covers NUFC for The Telegraph put out this via Twitter :

“Newcastle United have steadfastly refused to talk about number of cases. From what I’ve heard it is by far the largest outbreak in a PL football club. Question now is can they actually put a team out on Saturday against WBA. This needs clarifying ASAP, not that training ground is open.

“The lack of communication on this story is indicative of a wider problem.

“Denials have been wrong, the refusal to update supporters through the media is consistent with a business that thinks it can operate in secret. Hiding behind confidentiality when it need not apply.

“WBA and rest of Premier League, let alone Newcastle supporters, need to be told if game against WBA is going ahead ASAP.

“Are the club seeking a postponement as they did with Aston Villa last week? If so, why? If not, why not?

“This tweet is first update in more than a week from club.”

I agree with everything Luke Edwards had to say above and assumed that it would also be automatic for all other Newcastle fans.

After reading some of the responses from Newcastle fans to the man from The Telegraph’s comments, I was obviously taking a little but too much for granted…

Chris Morgan:

“This is b.llocks.

“What is that you want the club to say? “These players have Covid” “the game may or may not go ahead”

“What would a statement from them tell you that you NEED to know that you don’t know yourself already?”

Edward Johnson:

“What do you want them to say a number of players are isolating so everyone who used the training facilities have to self isolate would you rather they play West Brom and pass it round the hawthorns as well I think the clubs being responsible and correct.”

Marc Wailes:

“Communication on all levels within the club has been poor for years. Not logical and a little weird.”

Lee:

“Loathe as I am to defend the club, ALL PL clubs have been operating on a confidential basis in terms of covid, until they have to release the info (ie. When someone doesn’t show up in the starting XI).”

Tom Garvey:

“Not really sure what the issue is here apart from annoying journalists?”

Vincent Price’s Grandson Jody:

“your attitude is indicative of a wider problem of an arrogant and entitled media.

“who gives a flying f.ck who has it and doesn’t.

“I commend the club for the way its dealt with it. by it would only be twisted by odious hacks like you.”

Chester Copperpot:

“Giving a number doesn’t break confidentiality.

“It smacks of the club covering up their negligence in managing the outbreak and being embarrassed at how many cases we’ve ended up with.”

MR1234:

“I think it’s the clubs prerogative, you don’t know how people’s family’s have been effected by this and if they were forthright with information it would open a can of worms with the majority of the U.K. press.”

Tino’s Fur Coat:

“Unless Ashley wants to impress the Saudis by slagging off the PL then no detail will ever be offered on this, furloughing, where Andy Carroll’s 35million went plus many many other abominations they have been behind.”

MissM70:

“Why don’t you ask Mike Ashley your mate about it.”

M2000:

“Everyone is in shock as this is the first time a Steve Bruce side has managed to pass anything between them so many times.”

Glass Half Full:

“I think you’re just trying to create a story and be relevant.

“We will find out when we find out. Stop writing cr.p to provoke a reaction.”

Bryan Crute:

“The Covid outbreak is symptomatic of everything that happens at our club, very little to no information is ever released to let fans know what is going on.”

Alan:

“Who is to say they aren’t already in discussion with the PL and WBA.

“Why should they tell the press, the press should find out when the general public find out.

“As for the fans it isn’t exactly a need to rush and tell them as their is no fans in the ground anyways.”

Leigh Ralph:

“All signs point to the game going ahead.

“Can’t we just get on with it and watch the press conference Thursday / Friday. No big deal!”

Ally:

“I’m not sure why you are so surprised by this Luke.

“The club have fell woefully short on communication with anyone for the past 13/14 years.

“This is no different and not surprising. I would be more surprised if they communicated. The club’s an embarrassment to its fans.”

Muttley:

“Why would they tell the press when all you do is get things wrong anyway?”

JJ Williams:

“In other words you want NUFC to say something so you can write that extra free story. Times are tough eh Luke.”

The comments from Newcastle fans were just a small selection of those who responded to what Luke Edwards said about the actions / inaction of Mike Ashley and his minions, however, I would say at least half were giving a negative response (to Luke Edwards, not Mike Ashley / Newcastle United’s handling of the situation).

I find it quite incredible BUT at the same time no surprise, as so many Newcastle fans appear to have totally lost sight of what normal is, thanks to 14 seasons and counting of Mike Ashley.

It is laughable just how bad Newcastle United are run as a club and yet you have all these Newcastle fans who think it is the same everywhere.

Reality is, I can’t imagine any other Premier League club (or indeed sizeable business), who would refuse to communicate / update as Newcastle United have done for getting on for two weeks.

There is no excuse for not giving general updates.

The only confidential part is that individuals can’t be named by Newcastle United unless they give permission first. Many clubs and individuals have indeed done this, if you remember at the very start, back in March, Arsenal revealed that Mikel Arteta had tested positive and Chelsea the same with Callum Hudson-Odoi.

However, that is NOT what Luke Edwards is saying / criticising.

It isn’t a failure to name the individuals who have tested positive, it is the failure to communicate general updates as to what the situation has been at any particular point and indeed what it is now, only a few days before the West Brom match is due to be played.

Yes, the fact fans aren’t allowed into St James Park at the moment does make it less of a logistical problem when it comes to giving people notice of buying tickets and / or attending games etc…BUT that doesn’t mean it is ok to not give any updates.

Maybe the most illuminating comment is from the person who says what is all the fuss, all we need to do is wait for Steve Bruce’s pre-match press conference on Friday, 24 hours before the West Brom match is scheduled to be played.

It gets to the heart of the Mike Ashley Newcastle United shambles, it shouldn’t be down to the head coach to lead on this and do it all, this should be down to a club’s CEO and board of directors to assume responsibility and lead on it .

Of course at Newcastle United, Lee Charnley is both CEO AND the entire board of directors, you really couldn’t make it up. Plus, he is clearly under orders from Mike Ashley to do nothing, say nothing, in terms of keeping Newcastle fans updated on this virus crisis that hit the club.

Totally ironic that 16 months ago, Lee Charnley ahead of the first match (Arsenal) of the season in August 2019 said that both he and Mike Ashley accepted that the club had totally failed in communicating properly with media and Newcastle fans. He promised this would be changing and in particular, said that no longer would they go with their unacceptable past ‘strategy’ of leaving it all on the shoulders of whoever was manager / head coach to communicate on everything.

It is very sad that now in the 14th year of his reign, Mike Ashley has now got so many Newcastle fans expecting so little from their club, both on and off the pitch.

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