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Opinion

Revelation Newcastle struggling to sell 10,000 Sheff Utd tickets – Mike Ashley alarm bells

1 month ago
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Mike Ashley is a worried man.

Seventeen months ago, the Newcastle United owner gave away 10,000 free season tickets.

With enormous gaps in the St James Park crowds due to his ambition-free ownership, a lack of ambition summed up by the presence of Steve Bruce as Head Coach, Mike Ashley taking that desperate move to allow 20% of the crowd in for nothing.

Even with the 10,000 free tickets given away, the early months of 2020 still saw small but noticeable patches of empty seats in most home games, with the woeful Steve Bruce tactics and style of football meaning that even with ticket (free or paid for) in hand, some supporters still found something better to do with their time than filling a seat to complement Mike Ashley’s retail empire advertising at St James Park.

March 2020 of course brought an end to Newcastle United fans inside St James Park, even for those still wanting to go.

These past 14 months have then seen a never ending debate and agreement of fans of all clubs, that football most definitely isn’t the same without supporters inside grounds.

Football fans across the land desperate to watch live football once again, as days became weeks, became months, became a year plus.

Now finally, supporters are back in the Premier League, all 20 clubs having one home match where 10,000 fans are allowed in (or 25% of capacity if stadium holds less than 40,000).

Fans flocking to snap up these lucky tickets, to be part of the few who will be able to see a live Premier League match, before hopefully August sees the 2021/22 season bring about a level of normality, with the Premier League currently targeting full capacity crowds including away fans by that point.

For Mike Ashley, he has found his ‘hot cakes’ are not quite so hot when it comes to selling this minimal number of tickets that are in such short supply.

The Newcastle United owner has gone from giving away 10,000 free season tickets in December 2019, to now in May 2021 struggling to sell 10,000 tickets for a home match.

This is real alarm bells surely for even Mike Ashley.

Newcastle United last week holding a ballot to find the 10,000 ‘lucky’ enough to be allowed to buy a ticket for the Sheffield United match next Wednesday (19 May). Only to then on Thursday (yesterday) admit that they were struggling to sell the 10,000 tickets, putting them back on sale on a first come first served basis.

This doesn’t exactly match up with claims from Mike Ashley friendly media that the original ballot for the 10,000 tickets had been significantly oversubscribed.

If some who had entered the ballot, had then decided for whatever reason, not to follow through and buy a ticket for the Sheffield United game, surely just a case of going back to some of the ‘unlucky’ ones who had missed out in the ballot…?

Bottom line is that this is both a massive embarrassment to Mike Ashley and a serious concern, if both he and Steve Bruce are still here come August, just how many empty seats are going to be inside St James Park, even if full capacity is allowed.

In these 14 months without fans inside St James Park, Steve Bruce has delivered woeful football and only six Premier League home wins in that entire time.

Will Mike Ashley humiliate himself further and hand out 20,000 free season tickets, or nearer 30,000?

Alternatively, will Mike Ashley be pragmatic and sell the club to somebody else for market price, if the willing to pay more than NUFC is worth Saudis aren’t able / willing to follow through their initial interest?

If no change of ownership and desperate to fill tens of thousands of empty seats, will Mike Ashley take the even more dramatic step of, employing a quality manager and then showing ambition in the transfer market this summer, as well as allowing investment in the infrastructure that he has starved of money throughout his 14 years of ownership?

Mike Ashley might still hold a Saudi lottery ticket but if that doesn’t generate a jackpot win this summer, the NUFC will be between a rock and a hard place entirely of his own making.

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