THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – A Black & White Conversation – 29/June/14

by • June 29, 2014 • TBAWEComments (26)2893

Like many of you reading this I have a kind of morbid fascination with the e-mails sent outSJPnew by Newcastle United FC. Oh, it’s just me then? I’ve recently been getting missives from Barrack Road into my in-box punting season tickets. Its job done for me as I haven’t wriggled free from the season ticket hand-cuffs just yet but that’s just down to laziness on my part. I know it will be a pain in the neck for me to get tickets on a match by match basis and tickets for aways – so, on that basis alone, I’ve decided to keep my season ticket. There is no other reason.

It also seems as though Newcastle United’s er, marketing department (I’m not even sure if they have one to be honest) can’t find any other reason for a supporter to buy one, other than that they exist, they are on sale and that’s about it. I tell a lie, they did mention in an e-mail last week that if you buy a season ticket, you are therefore guaranteed to get a ticket for the Tyne & Wear Derby match. I checked at the bottom of the e-mail to see if this wasn’t an elaborate hoax put out by a Mackem with a sense of humour, but no, it was genuine and a fixture we have been torn apart in for the last two seasons was being used as a pitch to sell tickets to us. I did laugh at that one. Then I decided to sit in the garden for a couple of hours staring silently into the middle distance until I was persuaded indoors by the promise of a stiff drink!

Newcastle United can think of no single reason for a supporter to buy a season ticket other than that they are selling them. There is no vision of attacking, entertaining football, no star players to seduce us into shelling out our hard-earned money and no call to arms to get behind the club because we all want the same things and we want to go in the right direction. Nothing like that! There is not even an unconvincing claim we might enjoy it. Nothing at all! It’s nothing other than a desultory, electronic shrug of the shoulders and a hope that many of our switched off fans will sigh, say oh, okay then and for old time’s sake buy one in the certain knowledge they will regret it before August is out. There is more fun in buying a ticket for a raffle when the seller won’t even pretend there is a prize.

Unsurprisingly then, the story is circulating that season ticket sales are hugely down on previous years. Deadlines have been extended as they never been before in the modern era and the claim made by the club at the last Fans Forum that renewals were down by a standard 6% seems like so much coming out of St James’ Park to be completely false.

Our comrades at The Mag have examined the stadium plan and made the guesstimate that attendances for home games next season could fall below 40,000. I have no way of confirming or contradicting that but intuitively, it feels right. Over the last few years there has been a trickle of support away from United. You can tell when we play the likes of Man Utd, Liverpool etc. because they are in our end, buying up corporate packages and other seats in a way that was inconceivable a decade ago. It now seems the trickle threatens to turn into a flood as supporters just cannot face turning up and watching players with their ambition to get a move somewhere else up the food-chain play for a club that has no other ambition than to exist and for a manager with little credibility. There may well still be some naïve fans out there who believe this is (a) not really the case or (b) well, they don’t mind anyway or (c) something about the virtues of blind loyalty and whistling to keep themselves cheerful. But the received wisdom amongst most supporters is the club has been hollowed out and is a meaningless enterprise in maintaining TV revenue. The club is completely detached from its support, its community, has no goodwill and is utterly isolated.

Sadly, those left to notionally keep things ticking over on Barrack Road have neither the capability or the inclination to even begin to grapple with the unprecedented morass the club has sunk into.


In this last week a further two players have left United or are on the point of doing so. BothAbeid Mehdi Abeid and James Tavernier will head for pastures new. Abeid will return to Athens to make his move to Panathanikos permanent and James Tavernier has joined Wigan. I wish them both well. Those two players represent more failure at Newcastle United. It is little more than two seasons ago that coaches at the United Academy were buzzing about Abeid, talking about his massive potential and the manager involved him in training with the first team. After a successful season in Greece on loan, he’s now out the door, another player whose promise has remained unfulfilled. Another player who will not progress into the first team!

Since the end of the season, Shola Ameobi, Dan Gosling, Mehdi Abeid and James Tavernier have left United. As we know Yohan Cabaye left the club in January and Loic Remy as well as Luuk De Jong ended their loan spells with us as well. Incoming has been a kid from the Spanish Second Division and a player who could not nail down a place in the Sunderland first team.

Right now, on numbers alone a weak squad has been weakened.

It is hardly a state secret to comment that Hatem Ben Arfa, Sylvain Marveaux, Mapou Yanga Mbwia, Gabriel Obertan and Steven Taylor aren’t wanted by the manager. Decent money would get Davide Santon away back to Italy and the vultures are starting to circulate over Tim Krul and Mathieu Debuchy.

Outside the first team picture it is likely Haris Vuckic, Shane Ferguson and Sammy Ameobi will join Tavernier and Abeid in the United departure lounge.

I may be premature but a weakened squad now possesses more unwanted players than at any time in the manager’s time at United.

The task of rebuilding United to be at the position it was in even at the beginning of last season will be mammoth. The prospect of improving it, I am afraid to my eye, looks completely out of reach.

Lee Charnley, looking every inch this year’s Joe Kinnear, just with less swearing and fewerCharnley lost mobile phones has thus far, failed to secure the deals of Remy Cabella and Clement Grenier despite them having been “monitored” for at least 12 months and been subject to various bids over two transfer windows. We have just watched Bafetimbi Gomis, a player we laboured over and failed to sign for most of last summer, join Swansea City on a free transfer. I may be typing this up in blissful ignorance but nothing seems imminent. As we watch other clubs seal deals and push on with business, we are trying to convince ourselves the window isn’t really open for us because the World Cup is ongoing. This, to me, appears to be an exercise in self-delusion.

Newcastle United, as things stand, is sleep-walking into a disaster next season.


It’s not just season tickets we have punted at us through the wonders of e-mail. WongaThankfully, I won’t read an exhortation any longer to suspend my musical tastes and go and watch the Kings of Leon play some dull-arse, derivative US rock shite at St James’ Park but the desire for me to buy club merchandise from Newcastle United seems strong. That’s unlikely to happen any time soon. I won’t be buying a club shirt in any event but even for lounging around the house or rare visits to the gym I think I could wear something that didn’t possess with it the immorality of our club’s loathed sponsors.

Wonga was in the news last week and for those that missed it, I enclose the following links:

The company our club has elected to allow onto its shirt and elsewhere now faces the potential of legal action against it having constructed a series of lies to those being pursued for debts. They are morally repugnant and I think of many of the indignities Ashley has forced upon our club, the taint to our club’s iconic Black & White striped shirt is amongst the worst. I can’t look at it and feel revulsion when I see it worn by adults. Children obviously know no better.

It is entirely possible that local people, residents of Newcastle and the wider NE region have fallen within Wonga’s clutches and I find that repugnant. I also have little doubt that this news will have barely raised a flutter of concern at Mike “Zero Hours Contract” Ashley or his Barrack Road lackeys. They seem to have little appreciation for the damage Wonga does to the reputation of Newcastle United or even the “brand” of the club across the world.

I do not doubt for one second Wonga will continue to be the club’s sponsor and I don’t doubt they will continue to sit on the Fans Forum, despite (hopefully) imminent legal action whilst the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, who have funded events such as this –

remain ostracised on trumped up, petty charges. The club decline to reply to letters from the Football Supporters Federation on the subject. Newcastle United has absolutely no class whatsoever.

It seems those in positions of authority (such as it is) operate to a dubious moral compass. Newcastle United requires a thorough fumigation from top to bottom.


Again a massive thanks to all of you who have taken out subscriptions to the new 100% tf112_mirandinha_ipadDIGITAL format for true faith.

I am sure for those of you who are enjoying the true faith SUMMER SPECIAL (tf112) you recognise the familiar feel of the thing from our hard copy days but also appreciate the additional content and bells and whistles that we have added in what is a 169 – page issue.

Our SUMMER SPECIAL is the biggest ever club fanzine anyone has ever done around Newcastle United and to my knowledge, anyone has ever done elsewhere. But hopefully, those of you reading the SUMMER SPECIAL will agree the quality is at the usual high standard.

After quite a lot of thought, we have decided to bring out TEN issues per season starting in August. Each issue will be a minimum of 100 pages. But even though that adds to our costs and our workload, we will not be increasing the subscription charges.

Therefore for an annual subscription cost of £17.99 or a quarterly recurring cost of £5.99 you will get:

Ten issues of true faith over the whole of next season starting from 8Aug/14. 100-pages per issue.

the current SUMMER SPECIAL (169 pages)


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We are at the early stages of this whole new DIGITAL adventure and we know it is going to grow and grow in this current season and thereafter. There is absolutely no doubt about that.

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Have a great week.

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26 Responses to THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – A Black & White Conversation – 29/June/14

  1. Dennis Brownlee says:

    As usual I read your excellent article which is as good a plea for supporters to turn their backs on Ashley’s NUFC as I would think it possible to write. Except whoa!. Go back to the first paragraph and you are keeping your season ticket in defiance of your own logic/moral compass. Ashley bought NUFC purely and simply as a world wide advertising instrument for his tat shops showing 52000 smiley faces surrounded by Sports Direct logos on every spare inch of surface. Just imagine the effect on his plans if his logos were seen by the whole world surrounding nothing but empty terraces. How long before even he would realise the game was up, packed up his tents and moved to Glasgow Rangers. But its hypocrites like you who whinge and moan but keep on keeping on and prolonging your own misery. Time to put up or shut up.

    • I resent being called a hypocrite for going to the match. I’m not exhorting any boycott of matches that’s I’m not following but I don’t argue with those who have chucked it. I understand them completely. I do feel conflicted by going as many others do but hypocrisy? No, that’s not the case. I won’t suggest that the drop off in season tickets will have any impact on Ashley at all because the finances of football mean the vast majority of a club’s income comes from TV and not the gate. You cannot present a copper-bottomed, costed case for showing a boycott would rid us of Ashley. All you have is the certainty of your own opinion and no evidence other than how strongly you feel.

      • Tom Pitt says:

        While I agree that a mass exodus of support does not guarantee anything,it is becoming our only option.
        The model Ashley follows for NUFC and SD is pretty obvious…..use the former to promote the latter and to hell with actual football.
        The visual is all important in that regard…empty seats looks bad. Its a tragedy that non attendance has become our only weapon.
        I have used it after 26 years as a season ticket holder and 8 years before that as a regular match goer.
        I cant go anymore.
        And I wont go anymore until he has gone.
        It may have no effect…he will probably sell tickets for coppers to fill the seats to make it look good for SD and all may continue but I wont sit there and watch the death of my club….I must try to do something…and this is the only way I can try.
        Everyone will of course make their own decisions and rightly so.

      • David Chapman says:

        Usually I agree with you on most things, but I am afraid you are a hypocrite for slating the running of our ex-football club then supporting the running of our ex-football club by keeping your ticket for next year, I am actually really disappointed with your stance on this as you have a platform in True Faith to make a stand against the regime, but no, nobody does anything as usual.

        As far as I am concerned True Faith has lost its platform to say anything negative about the running of NUFC as its editor is helping funding this joke that isn’t funny anymore that was my beloved Newcastle United. You cant tell me the Sky cameras would still turn up at SJP, when its half full and has the atmosphere of a vets waiting room.


  2. Daley says:

    I have been attending Newcastle United fixtures for 7 years and hold a box in the stadium. I have always enjoyed my match day experience, watching Premier League football and enjoying the club’s hospitality. I have frequently allowed other people (friends and family) to use my box when I haven’t been attending games myself and they agree that this is a special experience.

    The one thing that differs between paying money for a Premier League match and going to concerts or other forms of live entertainment is that you cannot guarantee how well your team will play. You have a chance to judge it before you go and you know which players will be playing, how good the other team will be and what the likely outcome is going to be, but you can never 100% guarantee what you will see due to a number of factors. This uncertainty is what makes football exciting, but also means that fans should not grumble if what they see on the pitch is not of the standard they were expecting.

    At the moment, Mike Ashley is in full control of Newcastle United FC. He paid for the club with his own money and as a result of that it belongs to him and he is allowed to make the decisions around the club. While those decisions may not always be popular, they are Mike Ashley’s decisions to make. Any supporters unhappy with the regime always have the option not to attend matches but there are plenty of supporters out there like myself who are happy to continue attending, and watching Premier League matches.

    If the club were giving fans reasons to apply for a season ticket i.e. new signings, attacking football etc. they would be accused of using propaganda to rope guilable supporters into supporting the team. I for one think the approach they have taken is refreshing as it allows supporters to make up their own minds.

    • Rob says:

      I very, very much doubt the owner thought “I know what will be refreshing. I won’t try and entice supporters to buy tickets, I will let them make their own minds up!” He’s a sweatshop and zero-hours endorser. He does whatever it takes for him to get money.

      Simple fact is, he has nothing to sell the club on. Terrible quality of football, horrible manager (personality and ability), no attempt to compete in any competition. The squad we have, as well described here, is withering away. The entire season next year rests on two players. The centre forward that, as of yet, we don’t have, and who may not adjust to the premier league, and the creative midfielder that, as of yet, we don’t have, and who may not adjust to the premier league.
      The club cannot give supporters a reason to sign on for season ticket, because “come and watch a car crash” doesn’t sell very well.

    • Malcolm Thompson says:

      7 years you say? That’s the same amount of time benevolent man of the people Mike has been owner of Newcastle United. ‘Just one more thing…’

    • Tom Pitt says:

      New signings wouldnt be propaganda…they would be fact. Talk is cheap which is why that is all we get from MANUFC.
      Btw you give corporate fans a bad name…..and I didnt think it was possible to make that name much worse so well done!!!

    • David Chapman says:


      You are exactly what is wrong with modern football.

  3. Vin says:

    It’s always the defence by those that go that season ticket income isn’t important. If that’s the case why are there so many special deals, why has the deadline been extended once again as mentioned in the article. Relegation is the only way to get rid of Ashley and I hope that’s the case next season.

    • Rob says:

      The reason season ticket deals are continously rolled out is because the thing about the super rich is – they really bloody love money. The money derived from from TV deals more than outweighs that gained from ticket sales, but Ashley would never thumb his nose at more money.

    • you have no evidence that a mass boycott would rid us of Ashley – just unshakeable conviction – but no proof. It just makes you feel better not to feel as though your money is going to Ashley and I can understand that.

    • Stevep says:

      There are so many deals and extension of the deadline for season tickets is because the Premier League is sold on the back of full stadia.
      If people in the far east, Australia and the US see swathes of empty seats, then, unless they actually research reasons why (and casual viewers are unlikely to do so), then they’ll decide that since the stadiums aren’t full, the standard of football mustn’t be as good as sky et al have hyped it up to be, therefore, they’ll simply stop watching and find some other league to watch and that will become the next cash cow, leading the foreigners away, the tv money to eventually bottom out and for us to return to our natural level.
      Admittedly, this is a long way off, but I can’t imagine Ashley sticking around too long and keeping a club going with ever reducing income and exposure for sports direct and his other brands, can you?
      That’s why he needs SJP to be full, the continue the illusion that the ‘best league in the world’ (C) Sky TV is what they say it is

  4. Bob says:

    I have to agree with Michael that a boycott would not automatically result in Ashley selling up. I also find it hard to see that relegation would have that outcome. We know that Ashley would be be unlikely to sell at a loss. Either way, we might be an attractive proposition for a prospective buyer but I doubt they would be willing to pay Ashleys probable price. I’m not sure where the money from player sales etc. has gone or even the likely amount, maybe he is piling it up and when he gets enough he’ll sell at a reasonable price. However by that time it ‘ll take a fortune to get us back to where we were especially if we are relegated.

  5. Vin Crockwell says:

    To get rid of the fat slug I would swap places with Hartlepool. I just want the Newcastle I fell in love with in the early 1970’s.

  6. carlos says:

    If there was anybody out there interested in buying the club I’m sure that they would make an offer and no doubt Ashley would be receptive as long as it got near his valuation. The fact is nobody is interested so a boycott or relegation is no sure guarantee that ashley would sell up with no prospective buyer. Especially as he is making money from it and it costs him nothing.
    The argument about him going to rangers is laughable too. Rangers would have to win the league and get out the group stage of the CL every year for their turn over to match Newcastle’ s. Tv money alone is worth 90m. Old firm only manage about 50m in a good year.

  7. JACKSON YATES says:

    I await with interest the attendance figures for cup games this season: why would *any* Newcastle fan go to a cup game this coming season, after what the club has said? And how are the club going to word their inevitable ‘deals’ for tickets when these games come round?

    “Newcastle United actively want to lose this game – we’ve openly stated that – but will you come and spend some money on food and drink if we let you in for a tenner?”

    • Rob says:

      Agree with your main point mate, but I wouldn’t say that they actively want to lose their 3rd round cup game. More that its just an irritant, that they’ll do nothing to try and win if you get what I mean? Like last year against Cardiff- in a position to win it but not really bothered. Like one of those games on football manager that you click through really fast with no subs just to get it out of the way.

      Might just be me, I think there is a distinction there, although a fairly depressing one. Not that either are any good. Hope that no-one turns up for any cup game. Could start organising boycotts of those games way in advance, despite the questionable impact they’d have.

  8. alex says:

    While i agree there is no evidence that a boycott would work it is undeniable that the current strategy of blindly turning up for whatever reason (loyalty, laziness etc) is definately not doing anything to get rid of ashley.
    I respect peoples decison to do so but I really can’t see how anyone can pay money to go to the match and ulimately not be supporting the regime.

  9. Paul French says:

    Gate money is important to clubs. Liverpool have said they need to expand Anfields capacity so they can compete finacially with Arsenal and Manchester utd.

    I never thought it could happen but at 62 years old and having been through so many bad times with Newcastle utd this current regime has finished me with the club.I havent even looked at the new seasons fixture list.My quality of life will improve now that i have quit my involvement with them.No more the mug I.

  10. Gav C says:

    My personal decision to not renew for next season was based not on the idea of some form of boycott driving MA away from NUFC and forcing him to sell-up. I am resigned to the fact that he’s in all likely-hood going to own the club for a good while yet.

    However I am not prepared to spend another penny having the piss ripped out of me. That is exactly what I think is happening to every singe person who spends money on tickets/merchandise etc related to NUFC. I can’t see any point in ‘supporting’ an institution that’s stated aim is to merely exist and show no sporting ambition in any of the competitions that it enters. There is Zero ambition, Zero organisation, Zero plan regards anything at NUFC.

    • Gav C says:

      And that guts me to the core by the way, the fact that I have been so sickened off of something that has been such a massive part of my life and character for so long.

      But MANUFC (Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United FC if you needed to ask) bares no real resemblance to the real pride of the North East NUFC that I and many others fell in love with.

  11. Anton Lang says:

    Magpie Mover tickets up from £11 last year to £20 this year – 81% hike. Now purchased through club and not through Nexus. More dosh straight to the Club, I mean MA. Still a good deal, but fans (and season ticket fans) squeezed again.

  12. Vin Crockwell says:

    The fat slug doesn’t miss a trick. He will be creaming off a fiver from that increase.

  13. Stephen Brownlow says:

    Definition of blind loyalty = attending cup matches next season

    Buy a season ticket! Why? Just because they are on sale man! Roll up roll up! Lol

  14. I don’t buy the argument someone above made that it’s Ashley’s club, so he can do what he wants with it. Football clubs are community organisations, thousands of people have vested interests in them and their fortunes. To suggest that he should make decisions that benefit him only is, in my opinion, wrong. Unfortunately its this sort of unrestrained capitalistic approach to football that has seen Newcastle become what it has.

    Not living in the region makes my decision not to go back to SJP or buy any of the tat all that much easier, as I’m not immersed in it. What I’ve found over the summer is that my detachment is getting worse: I’m totally ignoring what’s going on/not going on at the club regarding transfers etc. If it was just a case of the football being shite, I could take it. That lack of ambition, association with the despicable Wonga, and general sterile, corporate feel to the place has led me to a place where I can honestly see myself giving up on the club.