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Opinion

Newcastle United Lockdown Diaries – Dean Wilkins

2 weeks ago
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Welcome to our brand new feature, the latest NUFC fan / writer with their Newcastle United Lockdown Diaries.

Here at The Mag we thought it would be good to have an in depth look at these strange times, as we hopefully start coming out of the worst of it now etc.

We are asking regular / irregular contributors to give readers an insight into their own personal experience and thoughts, both about Newcastle United and how the pandemic has affected them personally.

Asking fans to share whatever and how much they would like to, in terms of how the virus impact has made them see NUFC now and so on.

Next up for the Newcastle United Lockdown Diaries, we have NUFC fan Dean Wilkins.

Just to give readers a loose idea of who each fan is and the perspective they are coming from, we asked some basic personal info:

Age (exact age or loosely(30s, 40s etc): Very late 40s…

Where you currently live: Tyneside

The year when you would say you first thought of yourself as a Newcastle fan, or realised it etc: 

The 1977/78 season when Newcastle were relegated, went to nearly every home match after having been taken to the odd game previously.

Now for the questions (you don’t have to answer them all and say as much or as little as you like, just use them as basic guide to get over whatever you would like to say):

How has the virus impacted on you in your life (totally up to you how much or as little you want to say and how much detail, just to give readers an idea of what your position/situation has been)?

I feel very lucky compared to many people, no serious health issues for me and my loved ones.

Obviously loads of hassle like the rest of you, such as home schooling…and normal life coming to a standstill.

How has the virus impacted on how you see Newcastle United now?

Not at all really.

I thought that Newcastle United were an absolute disgrace under Mike Ashley’s ownership when we first went into lockdown.

Almost a year and a half later I think Newcastle United are an absolute disgrace under Mike Ashley’s ownership…

Obviously, having the opportunity and time (relatively) to watch every match on TV, just reminds you of how absolutely shocking the football is with Steve Bruce as head Coach.

Is Newcastle United now all about whether or not a takeover happens?

It is really as simple as that.

Any takeover would at least be an adventure, whereas with Mike Ashley we would continue to have the stability of a relegation battle every season.

People say be careful what you wish for…

Well, if I was on fire, I would still jump into the water even if I didn’t have a clue how deep it was.

If the Saudi takeover doesn’t happen, do you think Mike Ashley will then sell to another buyer?

No.

Mike Ashley has pretended he was willing to sell for over a decade.

If your house doesn’t sell in 10+ years then the problem isn’t on the buying side.

Clearly, the Saudis have offered well over the market value of NUFC, for whatever reasons. Plus potentially offering other incentives to Ashley.

No other potential buyer would be doing the same, so we’d be stuck with Ashley.

Is the takeover for you all about having potentially massive Saudi funds financing NUFC, or would you be just as enthusiastic about a takeover if it was somebody with the typical wealth of a PL club owner?

To be honest, I would prefer a poorer buyer with less baggage.

Obviously you don’t want a penniless owner but on the other hand, Newcastle United are capable of generating far more income as a club if properly ran by an ambitious owner who would work with the fans to provide a win-win situation.

Part of that would need a new owner putting money in to improve his / her asset but they would then recoup many times that when selling the club eventually, if making a success of NUFC.

Do you think there has been a Premier League conspiracy to prevent an NUFC takeover happening?

No.

I think there has been a lot of dubious decision making within the Premier League and how it is ran is laughable.

However, I think it falls short of a conspiracy or anything else that could be seriously held against those running the Premier League. They are a disgrace but haven’t done anything that breaks laws or seriously breaks any big rules on how the PL operates.

If Mike Ashley doesn’t sell NUFC, what do you see ahead of us?

More of the same.

Rubbish football, no ambition, rubbish patsy managers like Steve Bruce, brought in because they are so desperate for the job they agree to any humiliating terms / conditions.

That ensures a yearly battle with relegation or trying to get promoted.

Assuming full capacity is allowed at Premier League matches next season, what kind of crowds do you think Newcastle will get if Ashley still owns the club?

I have been amazed to see people talking of full houses at SJP if full capacity allowed.

Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce had driven crowds down to close on 40,000 during ‘normal’ conditions, Ashley having to give away 10,000 free season tickets.

Having then endured these last 18 months or so of shocking Steve Bruce football on live TV, I honestly think we are set to see crowds falling by another 10k NOT up by 10k!

If full capacity allowed, I seriously think we will see crowds as low as 30,000 at times this coming season.

Will you be one of those inside St James Park?

No.

Giving money to Mike Ashley and that cash going towards paying Steve Bruce…very easy decision for me when it comes to deciding whether to go or not,

How do you feel about Steve Bruce and heading into a third season with him as head coach?

The same I felt when he arrived.

An absolute chancer who loves Man Utd not Newcastle United.

A terrible manager who hasn’t got a clue.

Whilst off the pitch absolutely shameless in terms of willing to say whatever to defend himself and Mike Ashley.

What did you think of having every Premier League match on live TV during the virus period, did it help a little, a lot, not at all etc?

Can’t understand those who moan about it.

The convenience of deciding every single PL match whether or not to watch it.

It wasn’t the fault of TV that the product was so horrendous 90% of the time.

Nothing beats watching NUFC in person, when they are part of an ambitious attacking set-up BUT that is not the reality now. So TV convenience was great.

If you have kids, grandkids, how much interest do you see from them in Newcastle United these days?

My kids are so angry about Mike Ashley, no idea where they get that from…

Brought up on a diet of DVDs and youtube of the glory (not winning trophies) days of Keegan and Sir Bobby, they absolutely understand how terrible these Ashley years are.

It is frightening that 14 years of their lives has already been spent with Ashley as owner.

What three words would you to describe Newcastle United these days?

Mike Ashley responsible

What three words would you use to describe living in these covid affected times?

Please never again

During the pandemic, we have seen the ‘big six’ try to take control of the Premier League in October 2020 with their ‘big picture’ plan, which would have meant with changed rules, the six could outvote the other 14 on any major decision. Then 6 months later in April 2021, we had the six of them again playing a key role in trying another power and money grab with the attempted Super League. What do you have to say about those attempts and do you think it is inevitable that they will be back to try again?

The other 14 are incredibly weak and there needs to be a coming together of those other 14 (whoever they happen to be each season) to have an agreed strategy at all times, of how they intend to ensure they have things the best way for all 20 clubs and NOT what the ‘big six’ try to dictate.

In your lifetime, is there a golden period you look back on when you think football was much better?

My early days in the late 70s early 80s.

It wasn’t so much the quality of football, as a Newcastle fan, it was the quality of support on the terraces.

Just how amazing was it? Especially when starting to travel away.

Has this virus period diluted your interest in and support of Newcastle United?

I will always support NUFC regardless of outside influences.

However, as for going to matches, that relies on having a credible owner and manager, so we are 2-0 down on that score!

If you were king of football and could change whatever, what would you do?

No seeding at all in club or national side football competitions.

Get rid of international weekends and just play internationals in midweek like they used to do.

Fans appointed to key positions in all clubs, plus stricter criteria on exactly who is allowed to own PL clubs.

If you were king (owner) of Newcastle United what would you do?

Expand St James Park, build the new much needed training complex, allow a properly funded professional Academy set-up.

Ensure Charnley and Bruce were out the door right behind Mike Ashley.

Do you think matchdays will ever be the same as pre-pandemic, the whole relaxed routine of fans eating and drinking wherever without restrictions and the same inside St James Park?

You hope that will be the case but probably going to take years before this happens.

The Government are so slow to do what it takes and we have paid the consequences longer-term. I think it will be a case of one two steps forward and one back, or even worse, one step forward and two back.

What things, if any, still make you feel good about Newcastle United?

The fans are mental aren’t they?

Filled St James Park, averaged over 51k in the Championship.

We are a massive club but lions led by donkets.

Do you believe you will ever see Newcastle win a trophy in your lifetime?

I don’t really care, up to a point.

All I want is for Newcastle United to be competitive and try to be the best they can be.

Anything more than that would be a bonus.

A fourth season in a row for Sunderland in the third tier, do you think they will get back to the Premier League and do you want them to?

They have found their level and are relatively competitive, not sure what their fans are complaining about…

If Newcastle are ran properly, I would never be worried about having to play them.

A lot of competition but which three pundits, commentators, former managers/players do you especially dislike for their coverage of Newcastle United?

Richard Keys is the laughable main man when it comes to ridiculous comments.

Simon Jordan is a more educated stupidity.

Whilst journalists such as Luke Edwards have made themselves look foolish beyond belief.

When you look back to your early days of supporting NUFC, what would you say has changed now, if anything?

I understand we will never see the glory days of the terraces again.

However, at Newcastle we have just been so unlucky to have Mike Ashley as owner for the second half of 14 of the 28 Premier League campaigns we have been involved in.

If you have an ambitious club and the team playing attacking football, you live in the moment. When it is absolute rubbish you will automatically look for nostalgia to help you through.

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