Just before I sat down to type up this blather, I was of course delighted to receive my Sunday morning e-mail from Newcastle United, letting me know about some of the fantastic new deals they have on tickets and their fantastic new merchandise. They were less forthcoming about what needs to be done to cancel season ticket direct debits and what the point is of supporting a club that is simply drifting.
It’s becoming a regular occurrence of mine now – I meet someone who I’ve only ever got to know from supporting United and/or running this fanzine and they let on quietly and sadly they are packing their season ticket in. They are rarely demonstrative. Just simply resigned, defeated and sad! They remind me of people who have given up on a personal relationship. After all of the fights, the emotions, the attempts to make it better they have simply decided, it’s not going to work and they need to bring it to an end. Cancelling a season ticket direct debit is the equivalent of splitting the record collection.
What the club might delude itself with is that these people will never stop supporting United and although their season tickets have gone, they will buy tickets on an individual match basis and still be there next season. They are completely wrong. Those cancelling season tickets are by and large ending their support for Newcastle United. They are losing their religion.
Those fans may return for the odd game, they might watch games down the pub but United should be under no illusions, those who are cancelling season ticket Direct Debits are ending their support of Newcastle United. This is no tiff. This is the marital home being sold, the keys being handed over to the estate agent.
Those who intend to cancel their season ticket Direct Debits, need to do it this week, before the 31/Jan/15 in order to incur no penalty or lose any money.
I can’t imagine any of you reading this who have been mulling over cancelling your season ticket Direct Debit were significantly persuaded from doing so following Managing Director Lee Charnley’s interview in The Chronicle last week. Rousing it was not. Visionary wasn’t a description I’d use. A rallying call to arms isn’t how it felt. No, Charnley’s weasel words confirmed what we already knew – Newcastle United for the second season running, is going to write off another season. It is going to disrespect every one of us in the stands. It is going to ignore the hardships some of us have to pay for our football. It is in essence squandering the money we have paid for season tickets. Why do they feel entitled to our money?
Last year Cabaye was sold without a replacement and this year the manager is yet to be replaced after a month. For Charnley, the club is happily out of the FA Cup after the atrocity at Leicester City and there are no players to be signed despite the crying and growing need for two central defenders, a creative central midfielder and at least one striker to be signed. Business that should have been completed over the last three windows! I still expect players to be sold and if United can get the money they want for Sissoko, I’m pretty confident he’ll be heading for Arsenal or PSG.
There is no grand plan and Charnley, hideously over-promoted as he is, is simply doing the bidding of Ashley, which is to run the club on a shoe-string, keep it in the Premier League for the TV money and so on and so forth. You’ve heard that and seen it written a million times. That’s how it is but whether season ticket holders are content to keep funding it remains to be seen. As a salesman, Charnley isn’t doing much to get bums on seats.
Last week we put two discussion subjects online and received a good response. One was us flying a little bit of a kite in honesty – is there an appetite for a rebel club? I had one or two private approaches expressing an interest and I’ll follow those up and see where they lead though I’ve no personal interest in founding or running a football club. My life commitments wouldn’t allow that and I don’t think I have the skill-sets anyway. To say the least.
The other discussion was to attempt to see if there is any realisation whatsoever amongst those who continually call for a boycott of season tickets that they will have to organise themselves correctly to make that happen. I’ll be honest, I’m bored stiff of being harangued by those who wish to see a boycott of tickets or of match-day protests when I see little action or organisation to that effect whilst at the same time, Newcastle United-related (including true faith’s) fan platforms crackle with anger and passion. Christ, we do online polemic brilliantly and I’m aware of the irony of me typing that too.
The simple fact of the matter is that our support lacks the gumption to get away from keyboards and to organise something that those who demand action say they want. They want somebody else to do it. I’ve read all kinds of ideas but little in the way of a plan to make any of them happen. Even when stuff is organised, far from mass numbers join with it. Marches are counted in their hundreds rather than in their thousands. Attendance at meetings, regardless of who is organising them is pitiful, embarrassing, no matter what day or time they are set up.
There is also an element of our support which is all too keen to put the knife into the backs of those who do want to do something, who cut no-one any slack and appear far more keen to turn their energies on fellow supporters rather than the real enemy. We’ve all winced at bad spellings on banners but those who have had visible protests have been nailed as the “bed-sheet brigade” and small numbers staging protests sneered at for their inability to draw bigger numbers. Someone doesn’t understand irony. I’ve even read the dress-sense of some marchers criticised as though to be active you have to be some uber-cool, clued-up terrace mannequin. It’s utterly depressing. I’ve no time for Wonga on our shirts but I’m not going to nit-pick a fellow supporter who is doing something positive if they are wearing one. We all have different levels of consciousness but I’ve also read sneers at those supporters from people who feel entitled to judge others before they have done a tap. We have a lot of people standing on the pavement when the march goes by, who should get over themselves and get on the back.
Anyway, was that my Gerald Ratner moment?
Keep On, Keepin’ On …