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Simon Jordan on the wind-up with Newcastle fans about ‘bigger’ clubs such as Leeds…

12 months ago

In one of his latest rants, Simon Jordan said: “There are a lot of other football clubs who would look at Newcastle United – that are bigger than Newcastle United by the way, that have had 17 years in the wilderness, like Leeds did – and go , ‘you know what?’ There are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t be complaining.”

This got me wondering.

Who are these other clubs and how does Simon Jordan define bigger? He clearly thinks that Leeds are a bigger club but who are these ‘lots’ of other clubs?

Simon Jordan said that a club’s fanbase and also their ‘heritage’ is an indication of their size but do the facts back up his argument?

Let’s start with Leeds. They come 12th in the all-time list of average attendances for English clubs. Newcastle are seven places higher in this list in fifth place.

Newcastle United were also the first English club to have average attendances of over 30,000, the first English club to have average attendances of over 50,000, NUFC have the highest average attendance of any relegated club and are one of only two English clubs to have averaged attendances of over 50,000 outside of the top division (the other team isn’t Leeds!). When Leeds were relegated their average attendance was 28,000 in their first season in the Championship and then dropped to 22,000 in the following season.

Simon Jordan says that it’s harder for Leeds because of all the competition for fans in their area but there have been no established Premiership teams in Yorkshire since Sheffield Wednesday were relegated at the beginning of the millennium, followed by Leeds a few years later.

Simon Jordan has also said that Newcastle United are only a big club in Newcastle, but having lived away from the North East for a number of decades, I still keep coming across Newcastle fans in surprising places such as Bristol, Manchester, Ireland, France and Turkey. Unlike a lot of Newcastle fans in London, none of these fans had any family connections to Newcastle.

This brings me to the second part of Simon Jordan’s argument, that a club is defined by its heritage.

The Turkish barman I met who supported Newcastle United and who had a photo of the team on the wall of his bar, had chosen Newcastle as his English team after visiting the city to see Fenerbahce play and being impressed both by the city and by the friendliness of the locals.

Newcastle has a reputation for being a good place to go and watch football with knowledgeable fans. A friend of mine once met Patrick Vieira at a reception and he said that St James Park had always been his favourite away ground because the locals appreciated good football, even if it was being played by the opposition.

Another part of our heritage is a reputation for playing exciting, progressive football. Obviously this reputation has been tarnished by our own 17 years in the wilderness when we’ve had to endure some dire football under the management of people like Graeme Souness and Sam Allardyce and the mediocrity and lack of ambition during Mike Ashley’s ownership of our club.

If you contrast this with Leeds, a lot of people, especially older fans, have a less favourable view of their club due to some of the cynical tactics employed during their most successful era and the fact that their fans were not seen as being particularly friendly (I once met someone in France and one of the few phrases he knew in English was ‘Leeds are no good’. He’d come to this conclusion after seeing their fans rioting at the 1975 European Cup final in Paris). I know Leeds have changed both on and off the field but unfortunately for them this is still part of their heritage.

Another part of a club’s heritage is about how successful they’ve been. In this area there’s not much to choose between the two clubs as Newcastle have won more trophies but Leeds have had more recent success. Neither club has looked like winning a major trophy since the beginning of this millennium.

This hasn’t meant to be a dig at Leeds United as I like the way they play football and I think they have a good set of fans who have done a lot in recent years to improve their reputation. I just don’t see how you can call them ‘a bigger club.’

The person I really have an issue with is Simon Jordan and his co-presenter. I don’t have a problem with him having a go at Newcastle United and its fans but I do have a problem when he talks rubbish and his co-presenter never challenges what he says.

Maybe in one of his future rants he will tell us who are these clubs that are bigger than Newcastle United and have more reasons to complain.


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