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Opinion

‘Newcastle United owners making a serious gaffe here?’

1 month ago
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Plenty of discussion over the past couple of days about the price of a ticket for the upcoming friendlies.

I have been pretty much on my own (in The Mag comments section) when it comes to suggesting that the new Newcastle United owners have made another gaffe.

Okay, we have had the sort of investment not seen since before Mike Ashley and the place is rejuvenated. Everyone is looking forward to next season with genuine excitement and long may that continue.

However, we have questions surrounding PIF and what goes on in Saudi Arabia, that seemingly won’t go away. Together with the rather odd and very dubious decision to grant leave to our previous manager to accumulate his 1,000th match in management, when our new owners sat in the directors box for the very first time. I’ve been critical on here of their reticence in not getting shot of Bruce immediately, and I still cannot understand how they misjudged the mood. After Jimmy Nail’s rendition of Big River and Wilson’s early strike when the roof nearly came off, we reverted to type and it all went a bit stale.

Away from the KSA and closer to home, I’m also not a fan of the way in which our more local Newcastle United owners provide support to the West End Food Bank, given their allegiances and sizeable donations to a political party under whose watch the foodbanks have been one of the UK’s only growth industries this past decade. It comes across as ironic at best, hypocritical at worst. I recognise that there’ll be many who simply won’t agree with my sentiments on that one.

Which brings me to the price of these friendly tickets. Okay, as many contributors have said, £20 for an adult and £10 for kids still compares favourably with what you might be forking out to watch Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal in pre season, but I think that misses the point somewhat. The price is double what Ashley charged. Again, what will be served up on the pitch will be better (from both sides that are involved, not just us) and it doesn’t sound too unreasonable to suggest that you get what you pay for. The point has also been made that in order to progress, we need to generate more revenue.

That is undoubtedly the case, except that cash taken through the turnstiles accounted for around 10% of turnover in the last full season before Covid. Let that sink in. Only £1 in £10 came from fans paying at the gate. Given Ashley’s woeful record on the commercial side, that percentage would be even lower if we got our act together in that area. The new sleeve sponsor is hopefully the start of us striking many a fruitful commercial deal but that’s all I’m aware of that’s new so far.

To put it bluntly, we don’t need the extra cash that charging double for these friendlies will generate. At this time, many families are struggling with the cost of living crisis. Some folk are genuinely choosing between heating and eating. The friendlies take place during the school holidays and might just have provided a bit of light relief to some who are struggling right now. For a family consisting of one adult and a couple of kids, that’s £40 before public transport and other costs are taken into account. It’s a lot if you don’t have it.

Some contributors have suggested that if you can’t afford it, there’s a simple choice, which is don’t go. Or that families facing these sorts of financial challenges won’t have a trip to St James’ Park on their list of priorities. I was staggered when reading those comments and it made my blood boil.

So to sum up. Another gaffe from the new Newcastle United owners in my opinion.

They’ve misjudged the financial pressures on families at this time and rather than putting their efforts into growing commercial revenue, are targeting the rank and file, many of whom seem oblivious and all too willing to defend this crass decision.

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