Political Football – Coming to Tyneside

by • November 25, 2013 • Political footballComments (1)937

“With Mike Ashley prepared to sell and St James’ Park regularly sold out, it’s a mystery GeordiesAFAwhy no billionaire is interested in the club” (Louise Taylor, The Guardian)

In an article in The Guardian at the weekend, Louise Taylor has mused upon why no new owner for Newcastle United has come along in the four and a half years since Mike Ashley first expressed an interest in selling the club. Taylor claims, with some justification that United are the most attractive proposition to any potential buyer into the Premier League. With a regular crowd of over 50 000 and the club firmly entrenched in the top 20 reichest in the world, you wopuld expect more interest.  As Taylor herself puts it:

“Newcastle, then, should be top of any self-respecting billionaire’s shopping list. But if someone really is serious about buying Ashley out the overwhelming likelihood is that – as happened with Manchester City – no media outlet would have an inkling of anything happening until the formal, bombshell, announcement. Clues will not be scattered and advance warnings should not be expected. Maybe that is what will happen at St James’. We will wake one morning to an early club statement and later discover that, unnoticed, a delegation representing the new owner flew into Newcastle airport on a private jet from Russia or the United States. Or perhaps on the daily Emirates service from Dubai, possibly having connected from elsewhere in the Middle East, east Asia or the Indian subcontinent.”

So if Ashley really does want to sell up, then why is it taking so long for a new owner to be found? Only he knows and given his reluctance to communicate, we will probably never know. It has been mooted that Newcastle is too far north and outside the 21st century footballing hotbeds of London and the Northwest. Possibly Newcastle still suffers from an outdated image problem or perhaps the albatross round the neck of 44 years without a major trophy and 58 without a major domestic honour are too off-putting. Or maybe it is a mixture of all these.

Whatever the reasons, things do change and perhaps it won’t be long before a new, vastly wealthy owner comes to Newcastle.  We shall see.  Whatever happens, and I am aware that I am writing this in the wake of three victories, which have put Newcastle United firmly into the top half of the Premier League, I hope any new owners are more enlightened and ethical than Mr Ashley.

Speaking of people coming to Tyneside, I have just finished a book, investigating why Roma have come to Newcastle and Gateshead over the last 15 years and how they have found the Toon. The reasons for them coming are clear; despite the huge loss of Roma life in the Holocaust or Porrajmos (devouring) as the Roma call it, there is still a huge amount of discrimination against Roma throughout wide swathes of Eastern Europe. Roma children are often put into ‘elementary schools’ without good reason, so receiving a very limited curriculum, greatly harming their job and life chances in the future. They are also vulnerable to house evictions, which have seen them evicted and put in sub-standard housing, often in awful places. For example in Belgrade, Roma were evicted from their homes, and forced to live in metal containers, the kind you usually find on large container ships, next to a sewage treatment plant. An appalling way to treat fellow humans. They are also seriously discriminated against in health provision and the jobs market.

The interviews with Roma living in Newcastle and Gateshead have been very interesting. As well as talking about the discrimination they faced in places such as the Czech Republic, confirmed by my own visit to the Roma ghetto of Chanov in Most, 48 miles northwest of Prague, they have also talked about their experiences on Tyneside. It seems clear that they genuinely want to work: indeed English language classes in Newcastle are almost full of Roma, so that they get employment and so many have worked as cleaners, that it sometimes seemed like all the cleaners in Newcastle were Roma! Some have had to endure disgraceful racism, including a racist bus driver and doctor’s receptionist. However, the majority of comments have been how friendly, warm and non-racist people in Newcastle and Gateshead are. One even commented that Newcastle is less racist than Liverpool – and Geordie is easier to understand than Scouse! It has been very heartening to see that our traditions of tolerance, warmth and honouring the stranger, which have underpinned Tyneside community life for generations, are still very much alive and well.

The book on the Roma in Newcastle and Gateshead can be read at www.alivingtradition.org > Roma .

Community concerns bring me round to the final thing; a couple of pieces of news from the People’s Asssembly. If you can sign the petition for trade union rights, at a time when zero hours contracts and other abuses are rife, and as austerity policies continue to bite the most vulnerable in society, then it is an important petition to sign.

© Peter Sagar November 2013


 1. Peoples Assembly North East Organising Meeting

Can you help us organise campaigns and activities in the coming weeks and months?

The North East People’s Assembly’s next co-ordinating group meeting, scheduled for 3 December, is being opened up to People’s Assembly supporters who want to get more involved.

Peoples Assembly North East Organising Meeting 

Tuesday 3rd December, 5pm


Unison Northern Regional Offices

140 – 150 Pilgrim Street, 

Newcastle NE1 6TH


Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/635181446533508/?source=1



2. HANDS OFF OUR UNIONS – Defend the Right to Resist


Great letter in the Guardian defending union rights, please add your signature at the People’s Assembly website here: www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk

Statement signed by Len McCluskey, Mark Serwotka, Christine Blower, Tony Benn, Maxine Peake and more
View this email in your browser








Hands off our Unions




Defend the right to resist

The People’s Assembly has launched a new statement in yesterday’s Guardian in defense of our trade unions following recent attacks from the government. Please ask everyone to sign this statement, share on facebook and twitter and forward this email to your collegues, friends, family etc.

Sign the statement here

“The government’s announcement of an inquiry into trade union tactics is further proof of its determination to undermine the right to protest against its austerity programme.

David Cameron’s speech at the recent Lord Mayor’s banquet has revealed the government is determined that there will be no end to austerity.

The trade union’s customary right to strike and the right to protest are fundamental liberties that have already been significantly restricted by anti-union laws and other legislation. This inquiry is a new Tory-Lib Dem assault on the unions, demonstrated by the fact that the appointed chairman is the former QC for British Airways who led the attack on Unite the Union during the previous dispute between Unite and BA in 2011.

As millions of people face falling real wages, unemployment, part time or casualised low paid work, and the rapid destruction or privatisation of the welfare state they stand in need of trade union organisation and the right to protest more than ever.

We pledge ourselves to resist this attack. The right to protest is a fundamental civil liberty. The right to join an effective trade union is the product of generations of working class resistance. We have no intention of relinquishing it to a Government with no interests in the needs of working people.



Initial signatories:

Len McCluskey, Unite the Union, Mark Serwotka, Public and Commercial Services Union, Christine Blower, National Union of Teachers, Michelle Stanistreet, National Union of Journalists, Manuel Cortes, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, Billy Hayes, Communication Workers Union, Matt Wrack, Firebrigades Union, Mick Whelan, Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, Ian Lawrence, NAPO, Tony BennMaxine Peake, Actress, Sam Fairbairn, Secretary, The People’s Assembly, Steve Turner, Unite the Union & Chair, The People’s Assembly, Romayne Phoenix, Co-chair, The People’s Assembly, Owen Jones, Journalist & The People’s Assembly, Jeremy Corbyn MPJohn McDonnell MPCaroline Lucas MPMurad Qureshi, London Assembly Member, Cllr Rania KhanMark Steel, Comedian,Francesca Martinez, Comedian, Roger Lloyd Pack, Actor, Carolyn Jones, Institute of Employment Rights, Andrew Murray, Unite the Union, Dave Smith, Blacklist Support Group, Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary, Zita Holborne, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition, Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Lee Jasper, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, Aaron Keily, Black Students Officer, NUS, Alex Kenny, NUT national executive, John Rees, Counterfire, Paul Mackney, former General Secretary, UCU,Salma YaqoobJames Meadway, Senior Economist, New Economics Foundation,John Hilary, War on Want, Rob Griffiths, Communist Party of Britain, Hilary Wainwright, Red Pepper, Andrew Burgin, Left Unity, Roy Bailey, singer / songwriter,Mark Barratt, Occupy campaigner, Clare Solomon, former president, ULU, Fred Le-Plat, Socialist Resistance



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One Response to Political Football – Coming to Tyneside

  1. […] In an article in The Guardian at the weekend, Louise Taylor has mused upon why no new owner for Newcastle United has come along in the four and a half years since Mike Ashley first expressed an interest in selling the club. Taylor claims, with some justification that United are the most attractive proposition to any potential buyer into the Premier League. With a regular crowd of over 50 000 and the club firmly entrenched… Continued Here… […]