I must admit, when I first got word of the proposed fan boycott of Newcastle’s home match against Spurs this Sunday, I was a little cynical. We’ve had numerous fan demonstrations over the last few years, with most turning out to be nothing more than damp squibs.
We’ve had marches, walk-outs, ‘Sack Pardew’ signs and even a mock funeral outside St. James’ Park – but none have been fully backed by the masses and as such have failed to hit the owner with the desired impact. So will a boycott prove to be any different this time round?? I really hope so.
A large part of problem in the past has been that the main Newcastle supporter groups have always been splintered and divided. Too many separate organisations, all dubious of each other’s intentions and motives. Then there is the (admirable) mentality of a large portion of the fan base – to support their team through thick and thin. We go to the match and we support our team, because that’s just what we do.
Whilst this loyalty is our club’s greatest asset, after the truly shameful performances of recent months, along with the failure to replace Pardew, surely now, enough is enough.
The despicable and gutless derby defeat seems to have been the straw that has finally broken the camel’s back for many. After the Sunderland game on Easter Sunday, the apathy that has infected many fans in recent years finally seems to have evolved into anger. We can no longer tolerate the cheap and shameful way that our club is run.
Especially when the club is seemingly slipping millions in secret accounts to hide their true wealth!
When I tell you that I have even reached a point with Newcastle United, whereby I would actually be happy for the team to be relegated, it tells you where I am personally with the club. There is no way Ashley would not let his investment do a Leeds or a Portsmouth, so at the very least, it would force the club into being competitive again.
The Newcastle squad is filled with average players signed for cheap, all on the promise of being moved on to an Arsenal/PSG if they keep their head down, mouth shut and perform well. At the moment they are carrying out their first two requirements impeccably.
With the exception of a select few, most of these players do not care about the shirt they wear. None have the heart, fight or even the talent that our fans demand and deserve.
Over the last few years, Mike Ashley’s crass, ambitionless ownership of the club has been gradually eating away at the loyal support. Those who have spent their entire lives dedicated to supporting their team, have slowly but surely become more and more disenfranchised and disillusioned with the club, to a point where many have felt no other option but to call it a day.
And who can blame them. Ashley has single-handedly removed all trace of hope and ambition from the club and has turned it into something that most fans now detest – a glorified extension of Mike’s retail empire. The club have no ambition whatsoever. They have no interest in winning trophies; no interest in competing for European places; no interest in building a competitive team.
Newcastle United Football Club as we knew it died the moment Mike Ashley bought the club. All that stands before us now is a cheap, nasty, hideous version of a football club modelled around Mike Ashley’s business plan. All that stands before us now is ‘NUFC Direct’.
So as an independent fan, unaffiliated with any supporters group, I’ve thought long and hard about this boycott since it was first suggested. Like many, my initial thought was; what will it achieve? For most of us, he already has our season ticket money, so what will he care if we turn up or not?! But the more I thought about it, the more I see the opportunity to finally have our voices heard.
In the modern football world, money is God; but on Sunday we have the chance to show the world that there is still something more important than money in football – us, the fans.
This weekend we can carry on as we always have, filter through the turnstiles, take our seats and form the picture-book Premier League backdrop for the watching Sky cameras. Or alternatively, we can stand as one and say enough is enough.
In front of the all-powerful Sky cameras we can embarrass our reprehensible owner and highlight to the world the wretched way our club is being destroyed in the name of money. On Sunday we can vote with our feet and finally let our voices be heard – but only if we do it together.
On Sunday, each of us who regularly attends St. James’ Park has a decision to make. Personally I have made my decision, but I will never criticise a fellow fan for choosing to do what they love.
I will boycott St. James’ Park for the first time in my lifetime on Sunday. It’s not a decision I have taken lightly, and what impact it will have, I do not know – but surely it’s better to attempt to do something great and fail, than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.
My greatest hope for Sunday is that the Newcastle fans show the watching world how they feel – frustrated and angry, but finally, united.