THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES- Always Crashing In The Same Car – 24/Jun/15

by • June 24, 2015 • TBAWEComments (25)2163

There’s a half-baked theory that fanzines and their writers secretly enjoy the bad times at aCharnleyAshley football club because it causes a surge in sales and energises the strength of the polemics penned by their writers. Like most theories of this kind there is a grain of truth in it but it has its limits. I think in the case of Newcastle United we are well beyond the limits. I’m very much aware writing this stuff on a weekly basis that I’m often expressing the same sentiments and on so many occasions they are negative and critical of so much of Newcastle United. I think for some, I’ve developed a bit of a reputation as moaning old bastard whose forgot what it’s about to support a football club and instead has fallen into an addictive need to relentlessly slaughter the doings at St James’ Park.

 

Being a reflective, self-critical and analytical sort (I like to think) I frequently wonder if I haven’t just slipped into a well-worn groove of cynicism and easy negativity and am failing to see other sides of how the club operates and what might be rays of sunshine or green shoots of recovery at St James’ Park. I look hard for it, believe me because slaughtering an institution that has been a significant part of my life for longer than I care to mention wearies even an angry, belligerent sod like me. I’m at a point now as a supporter where I’m bored of this whole Ashley narrative at our club and am desperate for a change for the better. I can assure you it’s no good for this fanzine any more that we have a club going around in circles making the same crass misjudgements and our writers having to chart and opine on every inch of the Newcastle United story. We aren’t gaining from that I can assure you.

 

I’m one who hasn’t cancelled my season ticket direct debit but I really don’t want to be
trudging up to the Gallowgate End on match-day wondering what I’m doing with my life and speculating how many of the band of Black & Whiters I’ve been bumping into for years at the match will have chucked it and whether I’m going to die of loneliness one day on Barrack Road.

 

I’d hate to ever recognise myself as a cynic. I’ve met cynics and they are life-draining pains in the arse who are not not fun to be around and believe me I know!

 

I would however like to think of myself as a sceptic. I’ve no doubt my gradual and Tottenham Hotspur v Middlesbroughdetermined embrace of atheism would have horrified my devoutly Catholic parents but as another prick trying to make sense of the chaos of the world, I think I’ve decided if I’m going to believe anything anyone tells me, I’m always going to respond by smiling and waiting for the evidence. That now applies to the existence of celestial creators of the universe who believe condoms to be the work of the devil and owners of football clubs who tell me and my fellow supporters they are about to do what they have set their face against for eight long years and invest correctly in an effort to build a competitive football team.

 

I hear those who insist it is far too early to start flapping about transfers and they could be right. There are others who are entirely relaxed about McClaren not having appointed his coaching team and that’s fair enough, maybe they aren’t as tightly strung as me and are confident that the manager will have everyone in place by a week Monday when the players return for pre-season training.

 

It depends on your perspective whether you are relaxed about the lack of incoming transfers at a club which narrowly avoided relegation in May or if like me your thinking has been set by the experiences of Mike Ashley at United for eight, long, stomach churning years.

 

The thing is, for many Mike Ashley’s time is already up. They have followed through on post-match pub threats to walk away and they have done the deed. Many of us have long warned that Newcastle United’s biggest threat wasn’t the anger of fan activism and protest but the sclerotic loss of hope and enthusiasm for the club. Apathy, not anger was always going to do more damage.

 

How many games last season at SJP were played out in front of sickened, bored and apathetic fans completely at a loss at why they had bothered turning up? I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would want to repeat the experiences of last season and the one before and that is why the long-predicted and it has to be said hoped (by some) haemorrhage of support has begun and how.

 

This close season, the deadline for season ticket renewals has been extended on three occasions. Barely a day goes by without some kind of electronic communique from United hitting my in-box or whatever imploring fans to renew. I sometimes wonder if some kind of Black PR company has assumed control of United’s marketing when exhortations for season ticket renewals are accompanied by a photograph of Mike Williamson, as incompetent a central defender to have pulled on a B&W shirt in all of the years I’ve followed this basket case club. And I saw Keeley and Bird. And Barton. And Scott. And Hedworth. Jesus Christ.

 

I learnt yesterday “director”, Bob Moncur (aka Bob Concur) is now on the phones to corporate customers begging them to buy their hospitality packages and promising jam tomorrow. This is through the looking glass stuff now but hints at desperation taking grip at United. Believe me, I know how much everyone at United fears empty stands at SJP and the most potent protests Ashley fears are absent fans at televised matches.

 

The loss of support from the stands isn’t something they didn’t know wasn’t coming. Its been happening for a good while now but they have stuck their heads in the sand and imagined that the criticism of how they were running the club came from a vocal militant minority (hello there) who were unrepresentative of the vast majority of the support. I’ll make no claim as to whether my views on the club are representative or not but I do know this they have been losing season ticket holders for years now and they are filling the stands with ticket-offers that are undermining the value of their own season tickets. That is why despite having the third highest attendances in the PL, the match-day income is falling in real terms year on year. That isn’t any sense of enlightenment with ticket prices it is a simple supply-demand correlation.

 

So, whether my concern at the lack of activity is premature or not, Newcastle United has a major credibility problem with its public. The club has no hinterland of goodwill to retreat onto in tough times because at every turn it has left its support feeling undervalued, betrayed, embarrassed and sickened by how it behaves.

 

Therefore, now the club finds itself in a position it has not experienced before under Ashley and that is to convince supporters its worth going to the match and to buy season tickets and corporate packages etc. For all of Ashley’s tenure at United the club has never had to do that in meaningful sense. The club attracted support on an emotional level but for many thousands of supporters, the bond has been broken and to coin a phrase fans looking at the outlay of their hard earned money are seeking a pound-for-pound return for their dough. How much enjoyment will they get from the club for their outlay? Isn’t it ironic that having been told for many years that football is a business, many fans have now started to treat it like one. The biter bit.

 

So, whether too early to panic or not, it doesn’t really matter – if Mike Ashley doesn’t want his advertising at SJP to decorate a depressing savannah of battle-ship grey plastic, the people he has appointed to put the cart before the horse or something are going to have to convince many supporters he’s done enough to earn their money. To return to the religious theme, Mike Ashley isn’t a preacher sermonsing to empty-headed believers any more, he is attracting the glare of an army of sceptics who have their arms folded and all thinking the same thing – prove it. The Newcastle United support has changed and it is harder, more difficult to convince and lacking in its at times exuberant optimism. Ashley has destroyed that. He has now to live with the result of that.

 

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As I type this, our man Glenn Ashcroft is doing the business designing the next issue of true faith which of course will be our summer special. It will be a staggering 150 pages and ideal as it is for tablets, i-pads, kindles etc its perfect for holidays and all the rest of it. We’ll have news about it very soon. As was promised when we went digital – faster, bigger, cheaper and better.

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Our weekly Podcast lads led by Alex Hurst are busy throughout the summer and we even have our own true faith radio show every Friday night at 7pm. You can get at everything our Pod Squad does by just clicking here.

 

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Flushed with the success of the true faith online merchandising operation last season when our true faith pin badges etc. flew off the shelves we’ve decided to do a few more bits and bobs and we’ll have news for you on that soon as well. Just keep looking in on the site for news.

There’s more to come soon but still some canny things here as well already.

 

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Many apologies for the tardiness of this week’s gubbins, real life sometimes crashes in on the world of fanzine gobshites as well.

 

 

Have a great week – might see you at Gateshead.

 

 

Keep On, Keepin’ On …

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25 Responses to THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES- Always Crashing In The Same Car – 24/Jun/15

  1. desree says:

    next time see a counsellor

  2. Country Vigilante says:

    This article is one of the most accurate descriptions of the situation at N.U.F.C. that I have ever read. Well done.

  3. Dempsey says:

    Excellent as always Michael. Your view “Isn’t it ironic that having been told for many years that football is a business, many fans have now started to treat it like one. The biter bit.” really stands out for me. On reflection I’m coming to the conclusion that any club going too far down the road of turning themselves from sporting institution into pure business must surely suffer this fate. Namely that whilst their will be a golden period where the fans are still fans come rain or shine, sooner or later they will follow your lead and become customers and guess what? customers typically have even higher expectations on the ‘value’ they are getting out of it than any fan could ever. Hoisted by their own petard springs to mind.

  4. Bob says:

    it would be interesting to know what Bob Concur would say after reading this. I imagine they all stay away from fanzines and the like as they,no doubt, know what to expect. It is difficult to see any positives to comment on so any comments will always likely be negative.

    • David Rutherford says:

      I doubt Moncur has much time to read, what with cooking Ashley’s tea, washing his car, mowing his lawn and ironing his fucking toilet-roll.

  5. mammyslittlesoldier says:

    I like the name “Bob Concur”. What the fuck has Bob done in football since he packed in playing? he was an (at best) average lower league manager for a few years at the end of the 70s and since then has scratched around earning a living doing bits and pieces. Now he’s on the fucking board of Newcastle United. The club appear to think he must have some sort of rapport with the fans when in truth his smiling platitudes have fucked his reputation – “everything is fine…come and spend your money…Mike’s a good guy…I trust him”

    And another thing Michael mentions which is bang on –this idea out there that we have relatively low match day revenue because us ragged arsed provincials don’t have any money to spend is fucking shite and patronising. People would pay more for a better team but the club appear determined to downsize – low cost, low risk, low aspiration. Cunts.

  6. Marc Corby says:

    Am I the only one who remains quite ‘fond’ of Kevin Scott? I mean, for all his limitations he did play his part in survival, promotion and then the first half of that excellent and unforseen 1993-94 season!

    “one Kevin Scott, there’s only one…”

    Cough…

    • Mark Hamilton says:

      I remember Les Ferdinand destroying him at St James’ for QPR

    • Ian Summers says:

      I thought John Bird was ok as well?

    • Jezza says:

      Yes I always thought Kevin Scott had some half decent footballing ability but he was rather error prone. I always thought lack of confidence was his big problem.

      I sincerely hope the Barton mentioned on the list of awful defenders refers to David rather than Warren!

  7. John Waugh says:

    Please add Boumsong, Bramble & Caçapa to the list of utterly poo centre halfs

  8. vin1892 says:

    Another great article.It’s not just at NUFC that proper fans are turning their backs on football it’s pretty much happening throughout the PL. For now the shortfall of supporters can be addressed by the curious and day trippers but that won’t last forever. Sky’s domination of football also won’t last ad finitum because just as Real Madrid and Barcelona negotiate their own TV contracts I can see the greedy clubs in this country wanting a bigger share of the cake in future. That will lead to a more lopped sided league than it already is and the supporters of those clubs outside of the media darlings will just move onto to other things.

    Once football has devoured itself by greed it will need the very supporters that it has ostracised. However many will be deaf to their calls. Cancelling Sky Sports and BT Sports should be the first priority of all those who love the beautiful game. Believe me you won’t miss it as you can stream any match you want or better still go to and support your local boozer otherwise we’ll lose them as well and be stuck with `gastro fucking pubs’.

  9. archie stanton says:

    a great article.

    shame that you chose to renew though.

    the only way of getting FCB out of our club is from a mass non-renewal.

    i am firmly of the opinion that if youselves, and .com all took a stance and didnt renew then the masses would say something like “if them buggers can hoi it in, then so can i”

    keep up the good work

  10. tom pitt says:

    Michael you are spot on as usual!
    The apathy versus anger section particularly rings true for me.
    While I remained angry with Ashley I kept going….but when apathy took over I realised there was little point continuing to go to games.
    I binned my season ticket this time last year.
    I have no regrets at all.

  11. Ant says:

    @vini “just as Real Madrid and Barcelona negotiate their own TV contracts I can see the greedy clubs in this country wanting a bigger share of the cake” – exactly right!

    There is no way that the Sky/BT model of “bundling” will survive for much longer. Customers can buy a single track from an album or a single episode from a series: it’s only natural that pretty soon, viewers will want to be able to pick and choose which matches they want in their “made to order” football package. And on current form, I honestly cannot see NUFC featuring in anyone’s favourite list.

    What then Mr Ashley? Flogging match day tickets to students for £10 will not make up for the short-fall. The dried-up gravy train will come to a sudden stop. And good luck appealing to our good will.

  12. Jackson Yates says:

    Any implication that “the region” has little spending power is misguided. Just look at the number of new restaurants that have opened in Newcastle in the last few years. The reason gate money at the match is dwindling is just a logical conclusion of the drip-drip “business” angle football fans have been fed since the 2000s started. You used to hear the argument “football’s not like a normal business”. But, at the top level, it has been for a long while. I’m glad this editorial points that out so well – and also makes the excellent point that for the first time high numbers of fans are realising it and acting accordingly. You wouldn’t shop at a consistently awful supermarket.

  13. Matt Sullivan says:

    for everyone trashing Mike W, lets remember we bought him back in the Championship season off Watford (?) for what, 1/8th of what we paid for Boumsong, 1/6th what we paid for Marcelino? Can’t expect him to be a world beater and it’s not his fault the club aint bought another decent centre half since then. At the time we were also fighting with Sunderland for the services of Matt Kilgallon in same position, they got him, haven’t seen him tearing up the Prem either..

    • Jackson Yates says:

      Fair about Williamson. And in the season we finished 5th he actually had some good games, but he’s regressed since then unfortunately (probably due to over-exposure as first choice centre half, coupled with Colo’s decline for whatever reason).

      • Hoglan says:

        We repeatedly hear fans go on about “just wanting to see players give 100%” this obviously doesn’t apply to Williamson.

        He’s limited, he’s really nervous on the ball at times, but he’s one of the few players in our squad that gives close to 100% in every game.

        The amount of abuse he gets in comparison compared to the likes of Collocini and Saylor is equally amusing and bemusing.

        Re. Collocini’s decline, I think the effect of seeing his friend Jonas illness and subsequent treatment from Nufc had more of an effect than any party would like to admit.

  14. Peter Shearer says:

    I guess I am in the protest rather than apathy camp, but do not care what the motive is as long as people stop going and supporting Ashley.But I do think it would be a reflection on us if we simply allow this impostor to have taken our club from us.To use all our energies positively, is it really beyond us to set up a new club? I am sure there is more discontent here than there was at Manchester United when their fans set up FC United. That will pile the pressure on Ashley as the protestors and others can channel their frustrations into a new project, and eventually we can re-claim our club with a ready made “feeder club”.

    @ashleyout

  15. joe hawkins says:

    I’ve said it for years that Ashley’s exploitation of fan loyalty would turn to apathy which would eventually kill of his regime.
    Your seeing the first phase of his fall which will end with him having to sell the club because there will be nothing in it for him anymore.
    It’s getting to the point where no one in football will have anything to do with him because of the way he has treated people over the course of 8 years.

    Look at how long it has taken them to get a new coach in place because his business practices have been laid bare and everyone can now see him for what he is.
    Having Derek Llambias sitting on a bar stool drunkenly telling anyone who would listen how they stung Liverpool for more money because they were late with Andy Carroll payments, Isn’t going to help you in future business dealings.

    They have more or less burn’t every bridge they have in France with their strong arm bullying tactics in trying to get players on the cheap.
    As time goes on more and more clubs come forward with stories of how Newcastle are impossible to deal with.
    They are also proven liars in a court of law in their treatment of Kevin Keegan who has publicly stated that they will never achieve anything because of their actions.

    The whole thing adds up to a toxic brand which people avoid like the plague and he has done what no one else could and that is turn Newcastle fans against their own club.
    It has even got to the point where i have heard people willing on other teams to beat them so Ashley fails !
    I agree with the business and customer thing and Ashley should know that the customer is always right !
    If there is a washing powder out there that doesn’t get your whites white then you ain’t going to buy it so think on Fatty Arbuckle you greedy cnut !

    • Gav says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Joe. The “business model” is self-defeating. Ashley & Co have cut costs so much that Newcastle United has become an unattractive place to work and any decent player with options would be a fool to choose us above other clubs, regardless of how serious Charnley or Ashley are about signing them.

      Ironically, the only way to get round this in the short term is to offer wages that are way above the odds – Freddy Shepherd-style. I think we all know what the chances of that happening are.

  16. Tom says:

    Spot on article.

    If the club really wished for fans/corporate to renew they would have made signings by now to show a statement of intent. “Actions speak louder than words”, so Bob Concur should be in his telesales role once the (cough cough) new crop of players have joined!

    No doubt they will wait until 31 August to make some bargain bucket offers and ‘fail to get them over the line’ yet again.

    Steve Mcclaren’s assistant should also have been sorted in the first week of his appointment. Especially with pre season starting soon. The guy has had since January to think about it!! Shows how many people have been put off by working for this regime!

  17. Pat Hughes says:

    The article is depressingly correct and I would give anything to want to go back in August. Everything seems to be panning out in the same depressing loop we’ve had for years – tiny glimmers of hope which turn out to be the same old bullshit. We should know it’s PR rubbish, churned out for financial gain but you can’t help but get a tiny bit excited. We could well buy a few good players who develop significantly over the season but they won’t be part of a long-term building plan, they’ll be flogged to the highest bidder. And so it will continue until our bastard owner does one.