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Opinion

Newcastle United fans now challenged to show whether worthy of new owners

2 weeks ago
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Newcastle United fans finally saw the back of Mike Ashley after a miserable ambition-free fourteen and a half years of ownership.

The 7 October 2021 finally seeing the keys to St James Park handed over to the consortium, following a near two year wait to assume control.

Coming up to six weeks into the new era, it feels like this is where at last lift-off can (has to) happen.

A change of ownership and change of head coach, Eddie Howe’s backroom staff confirmed, the new owners with their feet under the table after a whirlwind start to their time in charge, now Newcastle United fans need to show they are worthy of those now in charge.

Before anybody says it, I am purely meaning this in football club terms, as in shared ambition of both owners and Newcastle United fans for NUFC success on and off the pitch. When it comes to the politics of the situation and as to who and who isn’t worthy, deserving of owning (and indeed following!) Premier League clubs, I don’t have the answers.

There are Government directives as to who is and isn’t worthy of doing business with and in the UK, whilst the Premier League have rules as to who is allowed to own clubs. I will leave it to you to decide whether any of their (Government and Premier League) directives / rules are fit for purpose…

What I am wanting to talk about is what happens for us as Newcastle United fans moving forward, if the new owners have the right ambitions for where this club could go, are you / we up for the challenge?

This has to be a two way street, as Newcastle United fans we can’t just sit back and believe that success / ambition can be handed on a plate to us, we all have to step up to that challenge as well.

Without support on and off the pitch this (potential success for NUFC) isn’t going to happen.

So whilst it has been a predictably very positive start in terms of Newcastle United fans buying up every available ticket at every available match (home and away), that is only scratching the surface. Especially, as even if the new NUFC owners wanted to put in unlimited funds over and above the club generated revenues, that isn’t possible due to FFP issues. Even if they can be ‘got around’ to an extent.

So, where do / can Newcastle United fans have to step up…

Support the team

I have seen a lot written about the unbelievable atmosphere at the first two matches under the new owners.

However, I think this is pure fantasy.

Yes, the pre-Tottenham atmosphere in the city centre and pubs was unbelievable and that continued into the match BUT once Steve Bruce did his usual retreat call after Wilson’s very early goal, the atmosphere pretty much died with it.

I totally accept that the Chelsea game was also ultra negative and gave Newcastle United fans nothing to rally behind as well.

However, no excuses as from now. Brentford on Saturday we have to see the fans inside a sold out St James Park totally up for this.

When the going gets tough

Eddie Howe will almost certainly have his team on the front foot and even if going a goal behind, those inside SJP have to stay behind the head coach and players. Silence does NOT equal staying behind Howe and the team if the going gets tough.

Divide and rule

The long-term season ticket deals were simply a way of Mike Ashley controlling tens of thousands of fans AND a divide and rule policy.

In effect, there are still around 20,000 or so NUFC fans benefiting from cheaper season tickets, having had to in return renew their season tickets mid-season for the following season. Fans ending up trapped in the process, losing their loyalty points if giving up their season ticket for even one season and caught between supporting the team / regime thing.

That is now gone. As soon as possible we need an end to the cheap season tickets and all fans in the same areas paying the same prices. Maximum revenues so that they can play a part in funding this recovery of NUFC.

Merchandise

Like no doubt the vast majority of you out there, I have done everything I could not to give Mike Ashley a single penny I haven’t had to.

This has included club merchandise, I haven’t bought anything from the club shop for years.

This has to change. I’m not talking about selling all your worldly possessions to fund a trolley dash around the NUFC club shop but I am talking about being proud and willing to now put your money into the club to fund the recovery.

I have become used to paying £13 or so for NUFC copy shirts from China and £65 for the official will be a ‘bit’ of a hike…but just like the days of Keegan and Sir Bobby, I won’t really mind if it feels as though we are doing our but and that money goes to help fund a better future for NUFC.

St James Park sponsor

I’m not saying that Newcastle United fans have to support the idea of renaming St James Park.

However, if as has been reported that the new owners are considering this as one of the main ways of helping to boost revenues, but only if the fans support the idea, then I think we owe it to them to at least give it proper consideration. Especially if it is sympathetically done and St James Park stays within the name.

It will be all about balance, how much a name change would equal in extra funds from an outside sponsor going into the recovery mission. A world of difference to when Mike Ashley took the SJP sponsorship for nothing when giving it to Sports Direct.

The new owners have already put in an extra £38.5m in recent weeks since taking over, this is going to be a long and expensive overhaul and Newcastle United fans also need to step up wherever they can to play their part.

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