by • February 9, 2014 • TBAWEComments (25)1461

It seems this season has proven to be something of a tipping point for a lot of supporters. I tf_109_coverdon’t think it’s one major event that has caused so many to consider walking away from the club rather the relentless culmination of screw-ups, broken promises, lies, incompetence, poor treatment and a general malaise that has taken root over almost seven years of Mike Ashley’s stewardship (sic) of Newcastle United.

You don’t need me to list all of our grievances with Ashley and his running of the club though I do think the candid admission by those charged with running the show that United places the cup competitions in low priority aligned to the manager’s diffidence towards qualifying for the Europa League has caused many Mags to believe this season is probably as good as it gets under Ashley and that isn’t anyway good enough. We have a careful and deliberate strategy not to win anything and to be mediocre.

The whole Kinnear appointment, the inevitable outcome, pre-planned sale of Cabaye with no replacement and £20m pocketed hasn’t even come as a shock. It’s all been depressingly predictable. The current form and results of the team were exactly what many of us predicted back in a close season of depressing inertia.

Many Mags appear now to have moved beyond rage and more dangerously are falling into apathy. That apathy appears to me to be about an acceptance that nothing can ever change with Ashley on the starboard bow of USS Newcastle United FC. The club is about nothing more than staying on the TV gravy train and doing everything it can to repay Mike Ashley the monies owed to him largely due to his own incompetent running of the club. That’s your lot. No-one is really arguing against that, no-one is challenging that version of reality with hard evidence.

It would appear that Ashley lacks the will to even think about challenging further up the Premier League having judged that the title and Champions League is out of reach because of the financial strength of those above us. He has decided it’s not even worth trying, like Everton, to be a doughty challenger and do everything we possibly can to upset the status quo. We are one of the few clubs with the potential support and untapped resources to do so.

It’s also about Ashley’s style of running the club. Lack of communication is one thing, absence from all about a handful of matches is another and breeds the belief the man who owns the club has little interest in anything about it other than the balance sheet and plastering the names of his business interests on every available space at SJP.

Ashley’s decision to ban the local press on the basis of their coverage of a protest march against his running of United is dishonest. He has banned them because he wants them to pay for access. What this means is that no Newcastle United player, coach or manager can speak to any of the Thomson House titles on any subject at all. So, when the club launches its community project Toon Times at the Discovery Museum, there is no-one allowed to speak to The Journal, Evening Chronicle or Sunday Sun. Even this humble fanzine (and others), while pestered to contribute for months, wasn’t invited to the opening doo. That’s the class and quality of Newcastle United. When the Newcastle United Foundation is doing good work across the North East, there is no player, coach or manager to speak to the local press about the impact of this work and to publicise it more widely. When Newcastle United players visit sick children at Christmas in local hospitals there is no coverage of it from the local press and no photographs in the local newspapers. Welcome to Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United, 2014.

The decision to ban the Newcastle United Supporters Trust from the Fans Forum was similarly dishonest and part of a duplicity that runs from the top, Ashley, a proven liar to the people he has running the club in various capacities. Ashley has the capacity to corrupt and turn decent people into knaves on PAYE.

So, you know this and you have had enough, so what do you do? The talk is now of chucking season tickets. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d never criticize anyone’s decision to walk away from Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United and I’d likewise never encourage anyone to buy a season ticket with this bloke in charge. However, what I see is huge confusion in this notion of chucking season tickets and I have a number of questions:

  • Is the call to chuck season tickets motivated by a desire to exert pressure on Ashley to sell up and go?
  • Or is it to simply hurt the club financially?
  • Or is it both?
  • If I chuck my season ticket, does this mean I won’t be going to any more Newcastle United home games?
  • Or does it mean I will be buying match tickets on a match by match basis? Thus meaning I’ll be spending more on tickets than I previously was and not hurting Ashley financially at all, quite the contrary.
  • Am I being asked to stop following the club as I have all of my life by going to matches? Or something else?

There is a total lack of clarity in the calls for a season ticket boycott and that is because it is garbled, ill-conceived and raises so many different questions.

This is my personal take. I won’t be packing my season ticket in. I have a variety of reasons but the first is because I find a season ticket convenient. I couldn’t be arsed constantly chasing match tickets, sitting in different parts of the ground and for better or worse I know Ashley isn’t at United for the long haul and he will go at some point. Indeed, everything he seems to be doing, to me, smacks of someone preparing the club’s accounts for a sale. That’s my intuition.

I am not altogether convinced a season ticket boycott will have the desired results. Thousands have chucked it already and been replaced by cheap offers – the massive family enclosure we have is a subject of pride but wouldn’t have been possible had thousands of other Mags not sacked their season tickets off.

Further, like it or not the club’s proportion of income from the gate in its overall top line is diminishing season on season. The ever increasing TV deals means your season ticket money has become less and less important. Ashley won’t like season tickets being chucked but it is unlikely to throw him into a panic and hand the club over to a new benevolent owner(s).

What we also have to acknowledge is that when supporters cross the rubicon and decide to chuck it, by and large they never come back. I am aware of supporters, so disgusted by the sale of Malcolm Macdonald in the 70s, they have never set foot back into SJP since. People find something else to do, get used to not going and lose interest.

Finally, I’ve been here before. In the late 80s following the sales of Waddle, Beardsley and Gascoigne and relegation, the excellent United Supporters For Change group led boycotts of United games and they were only ever partially successful. What led to McKeag and Co. leaving was an alternative buyer, namely John Hall. That currently doesn’t exist as an option for us at this point in time.

Then I have to conclude that had I boycotted every regime at Newcastle United I felt was selling us short, running the club incompetently, were greedy and had no ambition, I’d probably never ever have set foot in St James’ Park over the 40-odd years I’ve served my own Black & White penance.

That does not mean I am advocating doing nothing. It is absolutely right that we stand up and try and do our utmost to protect the club. However, this call for a boycott of season tickets is garbled, lacks of clarity of purpose and I believe will prove divisive amongst our support.

There is another way.

Firstly, all supporters participating within the club’s sham of a Fans Forum should resign from it immediately and cause it to cease to exist. A complete blockade of the Fans Forum and membership of it should be supported. In that way, we can challenge the club’s licensing arrangements with UEFA.

All supporters should take off the football packages from their SKY TV packages and inform them they are so doing because of Mike Ashley’s running of Newcastle United which is dishonest and bad for the integrity of the Premier League as a meaningful competition.

You should contact your local MP to demand that there be meaningful policies developed and committed to by the main political parties which make our football clubs more accountable to the local communities that have sustained them for almost 150 years. Remember, Ashley is a symptom of how football operates in this country, not its cause.

You should join the Newcastle United Supporters Trust and give its membership and its funding a boost. By joining the NUST you will also be joining the Football Supporters Federation. The NUST is the only properly constituted, democratic supporters organization that is open for all members to join. I hear criticism of the NUST and extravagant demands for action from people who to my knowledge have never lifted a finger to do anything positive but feel qualified to command others to carry out their whims.

You should become active as a supporter beyond your match-going rituals. This is a particular bug-bear of mine. I’m hardly a Che Guevara of the Gallowgate End but I’ve done a little down the years here and there. But we do have a load of generals within social media who feel as though they have the authority to criticize, demand and direct when they have never ever done a thing and have no intention of doing anything.

Supporters meetings are notoriously cursed by piss poor turnouts and here’s a thing, there are times when I have concluded, our support just lacks something. I compare us badly to Liverpool fans. There isn’t a better organized supporters group in the country than the Spirit of Shankly and we aren’t even anywhere near to matching Everton’s Blue Union and we are nowhere near to the supporters’ organization of Man Utd, Celtic or Rangers. Don’t for one moment think I’m describing those supporters organisations as perfect but I look at how Hull City fans have responded to their loony owner’s proposed name change and I’m full of admiration for them. Could we, would we have done the same thing? Well, we never really did with the St James’ Park re-naming, did we?

Too many of our supporters, rely on others to lead the fight and stand on the sidelines when they need their support. That really has to end if the current situation is to move beyond cry-arsing and moaning to well-developed, intelligent action that will unite our support rather than divide it.


The football? We can’t score goals and we can’t defend. That’s a really bad combination for a football team.


We are running our new survey, the third of the season. It will take you about 30 seconds to complete. The results will be featured in the next issue of true faith (TF110) Just click here.


We were busy with the Podcasts last week and were joined by George Caulkin, the greatly respected journalist covering NE football for The Times for a mammoth post-transfer window, Cabaye sale, Kinnear-exit chin wag which drifted into post-modern ennui I reckon. Then we had the fantastic opportunity to join Robert Lee for a truly marvelous session of nostalgia and honesty about what is happening at Newcastle United from one of the club’s greatest players in the modern era.

Taylor & Besty do a fantastic job with these true faith : PODCASTS and it’s all absolutely free and gratis. They have become amongst the most listened to football podcasts in the country and it’s not hard to see, I mean hear, why.

Listen to the true faith : PODCASTS here.


I have to remind you about the true faith : SATURDAY SPECIAL. Every Saturday morning this fanzine within a fanzine is finding its way ever more into more and more in-boxes and is becoming quite the weekend ritual for Mags. It’s completely the work of our Deputy Editor, young Mr Harrison and our design guru, the unstoppable Glenn Ashcroft. Again, it’s absolutely and completely free of charge. It is ideal on PCs, Desk-Tops, i-Pads, Tablets but I really love reading it on my smart-phone early in the morning as I shamble around my flop joint bleary in my pants, which isn’t an image you want in your heads for long, I accept.

You can get registered for the true faith : SATURDAY SPECIAL here.


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13 matches to go eh? Sighs.


Keep On, Keepin’ On … TF_INITIALS_LOGO

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25 Responses to THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – GROTESQUE – 9/Feb/14

  1. Peter Shearer says:

    I gave up my season ticket so that I have no part to play in an Ashley owned Newcastle.That and being a member of NUST is my stance against this corrupt regime.Ashley has shown he does not like bad publicity, so it is in our hands to get rid of him.Once enough supporters have the courage of their convictions to do the same -we can win this battle for the soul of our club.Until then, I remain disillusioned with the timid response from what I always thought was a passionate and determined support.We are getting what our lack of unified action deserves. I hope the anger is maintained and used effectively to get rid of this impostor.

  2. Dan smith says:

    What hope have we got of a United supporter front against Ashley, when half our crowd can’t even miss the half time pint. If half of our lot had a modern day Jarrow March, they’d lose interest after an hour and go home. For every loyal supporter chucking in their season ticket after 10/20/30/40 years of support, someone else will snap it up.
    Having said all that, I don’t have the answer, and as mentioned above apathy is the outcome. What Ashley has done to our club is truly unforgivable, dividing support, breaking down links to local media, leaving fans second guessing whats coming next and worse of all abusing our unadulterated love and loyality for our club.
    I fear things will get a lot worse before there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  3. Ian Orrick says:

    The ONLY thing the greedy bastard who owns our club understands is the bottom line. The only way to hurt him is to stop going to the games. I can fully understand why anyone with a current season ticket would use it for the remaining games but really there is no other way to get at this fucker other than to affect his cashflow. All this talk of protest via supporters groups is honourable & commendable but really as long as there are 48 – 52 thousand coming through the gates every two weeks Ashley couldn’t give a fuck. I’m not convinced either that all the recent craick about gate money not being as important as it was holds too much water. We’ve got minimal income from advertising at the stadium & I understand that income from the corporate side isn’t what it was yet we’re still hovering around the top twenty clubs in Europe for turnover. That can only be from income from gate receipts unless anyone with a grip on the clubs finances can tell me otherwise?
    I gave up my season ticket the season we got relegated as I was sick to death of giving my hard earned to cunts like Owen, Viduka etc. etc. & nothing Ashley has done since has encouraged me to return. It would also be interesting to see what debate it would encourage if the sky cameras turned up to see a half empty stadium.
    I know that people don’t want to stop going to the match – it’s what we do isn’t it? It’s just unfortunate that it’s keeping Ashley here. Get the gates down to 25 – 30 thousand & he’ll sell up ASAP – there’s no other way.

  4. Chris Nappin says:

    Mike Ashley’s financial resources, which for all intents and purposes are limitless, have only been utilised in terms of the initial £133m to buy the club and the £111 loan needed to clear the debt the club previously had (that he failed to spot), and the impact of relegation (that he himself caused). Aside from that, he doesn’t really need to put any money in to keep the club operating as a going concern. We certainly don’t rely on his billions in the transfer market, quite the opposite in fact. If fans were to somehow come up with the initial money to buy the club, we wouldn’t need to continuously put more of our own money in, beyond season tickets etc, in order to keep the club running. Ashley doesn’t need to – the revenue pays for the costs itself, particularly with the new tv deal coming in at the end of the season. If Ashley is able to pay off his £111m loan by continuously selling or best players over the next 7 years, then surely that’s enough time for 500,000 fans to save up enough to buy the club off him outright for £133m! It’s only £266 each over 7 years! Then it would be ours, forever, and we wouldn’t need to put anymore money in at that point, more than we already do now. I realise that there’s probably more chance of poverty and religion being simultaneously cured from the planet than that ever happening but I’m trying to think outside the box here ffs. I would do it like, better than waiting for some other playboy billionaire twat to come in and nack things up

  5. dave hetherington says:

    i’m sick of hearing how much money newcastle owe ashley,the amount of tv money and advertising and all the rest of the package,he must have had it back no problem

  6. William McGahey says:

    Fan ownership isn’t an impossible dream for us, the difference is that every fan owned club is in the lower leagues and well supported anyway, Pompey only managed it once they dropped into League 2. Remember, Swansea achieved it when they were in the lower leagues. To raise the money here would need a few wealthy fans to stump up most of the money or literally every member of our fanbase to donate a chunk, either that or wait until we drop down….

  7. Bob Stead says:

    The thing is we don’t really know how much of the so called loan has been “repaid” to him. it could be totally different in reality to the figure shown in the accounts. He can, of course, take out money in various ways. Who benefits from the free advertising?. S**** D***** do, but do they pay Ashley a fee for that which doesn’t hit NUFC. It presumably increases their profit as they would otherwise have to pay for it and that can increase their dividend. That amounts to a fair bit over the years and would go a long way to paying off the “loan”.

  8. Matt Flynn says:

    As a support are we over complicating this, worrying too much about unknowable outcomes when it boils down to the simplest of personal choices. Either you pay £500+ a year to watch Ashley’s soulless ambition free NUFC play mediocre football at SportsDirect’s biggest billboard, or you don’t.

    Better to follow your conscience and see what happens than aimlessly waiting around for some kind of coordinated consensus that is never going to arrive?

  9. Mick says:

    Just chucked in my season ticket after reaching my Ashley threshold. I know it won’t make any difference but at least I’m not putting money in his pocket. Michael talks about a lack of clarity it is as clear as day to me, stop giving Ashley my money that was my goal and I have now achieved it. What others decide to do is completely up to them if you’re fed up chuck it if not keep on grinning and bearing it until you reach your own personal Ashley threshold. Michael says supporters won’t come back when/if he leaves, well we’ll have to wait and see I fully intend returning but I guess everyone who packs in thinks that.

  10. stav says:

    The only way to hurt Ashley is to hurt SD .Something in the crowd at the next televised game slagging SD .

    • Paul says:

      I agree with hurting SD, Maybe every fan should take flags, banners and scarves to cover up all the SD advertising in the ground at every match from now on.But it would have to be every fan in the ground as if it was only a few the would be escorted out of the ground by the stewards.

  11. SteveP says:

    If I had a business and paid as little attention to it as Ashley does with Newcastle United, then there’d be only one outcome: liquidation and a massive loss on my investment.
    To avoid this scenario, I’d have 2 options:
    1, pay attention, invest in growth or,
    2, sell it
    Over to you Michael James Wallace Ashley (not holding my breath for a response from the man though)

  12. Peter Maddison says:

    Only way is to attack Sports Direct economically. Leave NUFC alone – he doesn’t care either way. Call trading standards and HSE about fire risks of merchandise obstructing. Call council about obstructing pavement with crap. Call his shareholders in fund houses informing them of poor management practice. Target zero hours system. Attack Sports Direct – it’s his hearts blood.

  13. anton says:

    Matt Flynn: amen!
    I think we are tying ourselves up in knots trying to apply a cost-benefit analysis to a simple decision: are we ok with giving our money to Mr Ashley or not?
    Ashley is extremely rich, so I am not even try to contemplate what £10 or £100 or £1batzillion mean to him; this is not the point. As far as I am concerned, I am doing what is right for myself and damn him and Robert Wise.

    As for the argument that all the money comes from Sky/BT, so what’s the point of boycotting the games: I think we have been beaten into such a state of submission, we don’t even realise our worth as fans! Sky and BT base their financials on selling the image of vibrant, jumping English football stadiums around the world. Just imagine a nearly empty 50k plus seater stadium, week after week, month after month: I reckon the people with the real money and power would start taking an interest in what’s going on in Newcastle.

    I am not a wise-a** and I have the greatest respect for those who are standing by the team, paying £55 (plus travel, etc) to watch non-games at Craven Cottage and Stamford Bridge and the FA Cup. However, for me, this “Stand by your man” attitude has not worked out: I am not a glory hunter and I can get through near misses, disappointments and failure. But I cannot enable the club’s disrepect for football and me any longer: we don’t fancy the domestic Cups; we don’t fancy the Europa League; we select which games we fancy competing (remember the striker-less formation against the might of Sunderland FC?). We need a change.

  14. Tom Pitt says:

    Another excellent article. I sincerely hope that your intuition is right but I have serious doubts.
    I just dont see why he would sell up unless we are back in the Championship with little prospect of coming back up,why would he?
    The M.O. for Ashley is to use the club as a massive free advertising too for you know what. For the club to be self financing and beyond to the point where he can make a good profit for himself into the bargain.
    Why would he sell?
    Disallusionment grows on a daily basis for the rank and file.
    Its the lack of hope that kills you! We know what the plan is with Ashley….finish anywhere from 8th to 17th each season and dont risk anything in the cups…..and the Europa League is the nightmare scenario for the club as it risks our PL status!
    When Ive had enough (and that time gets ever nearer) and finally bin my season ticket after 23 years, I will not return until he has gone,there would be no point giving it up only to pay on a match by match basis!!
    No,if Im gone Im gone until he has!!

  15. gary langley says:

    at last an article that gives a reasoned well thought out idea of what is going on, without looking to self promote themselves as the “voice of the people”. I for one am never giving up my season ticket, i was “forced” from my seat PRE ASHLEY in milburn stand by freddie fletcher and co when platinum club was created. I now have imo one of best seats in house in gallowgate and have no intention of sacrificing that just because an owner takes our support for granted. I was here before he arrived and touch wood here long after he has gone to rangers to do same but where he can actually challenge for titles , cup and champs lge qualification with his “sports direct” branding on a global scale. they even have the right colours. But i also firmly believe we should be throwing our time and efforts into find a “new owner” first instead of trying to rid ourselves of one we have as 2nd option is not even viable without the first happening. Thats where the ashley out campaign is going wrong imo. Without hope you have nothing and i still have that hope our day in the sun will eventually arrive.

  16. STEPHEN says:

    Dare i say some of our bums on seats go just to say they’ve been at the ‘event’, they have no real feeling for Newcastle United, they couldn’t care less whether we win lose or draw. All they care about is being able to say down the pub or at work they were at the match.

    ‘Supporters for change’ had a right go back in the late 80’s but still over 20,000 went to the games.

    i still say if you want to make a visual statement, everybody stay out until the match has kicked off. Everyone won’t do it, everyone won’t agree on it and who would organise such a thing anyway.

    Those who want to stop going, stop going. Those who want to ride it out, ride it out.

  17. Stevie Mac says:

    Not sure your use of Everton as an example of ‘doughty challenger’ to be admired and maybe copied would last long in this neck of the woods. Everton are in profit with regards to transfers of £35.9 million over the last 5 seasons. They have sold leading players for big money in 4 of the last 5 seasons, Lescott/Arteta/Rodwell & Fellaini. Isnt this exactly what Ashley is being vilified for? And I seem to recall they recently lost a local derby 4-0? I still cant see organised boycotts, demonstrations being talked about on Everton fans websites, maybe they just lack the ambition we have.

    And how did Everton manage to buck the trend and establish themselves in the top 6 without buying their way into it?. Not sure exactly but I did notice that for the season 2003-04 (David Moyes 2nd full season as Everton manager) Everton finished 17th in the premier league, 1 place above relegation, that same season we finished 5th and lost in the semi finals of the UEFA cup. And what happened?….Our manager Bobby Robson was to lose his job 4 games later whereas David Moyes was to survive another 9 seasons at Everton. Again, maybe its just the total lack of ambition amongst the Everton fans that allowed Moyes to survive so long and shape the club into the ‘doughty challenger’ it is today. Somehow doubt Moyes would have been afforded the time, if he was ‘fortunate’ enough to have been offered the job, at the Toon given our ravenous ‘ambition’. It’s a curious lack of ambition on Merseyside considering Evertons recent history of winning titles, domestic cups & European cups must still be fresh in the memory of their fans given they’ll all happened in the last 30 years. Unlike us, 59 years since a domestic cup, 87 years since a domestic title.

  18. David Rutherford says:

    With regards to boycotts, there seems to be a tendency among fans to focus too much on the financial implications. In the short-term this is irrelevant: we need to forget about whether it hits Ashley in the pocket or not and think of the publicity, press-inches and embarrassment it would bring him, as well as the message a half-empty ground would send. I don’t want to give up my season ticket just yet but I’d be more than willing to not go to the match for the rest of the season, or even just a couple of games, if it was part of an organised, widespread, publicly backed protest. Whether this would convince Ashley to sell or alert potential buyers I can’t say but jesus, it wouldn’t do any harm. Unfortunately this can only happen if organisations such as the NUST and Time4Change and websites/publications like True Faith, The Mag and get behind and encourage such an action, something they all appear unwilling to do. So all we are left with is not renewing which again is meaningless unless people do it in their tens of thousands.

  19. No-one has contacted this fanzine directly to ask us to lead a season ticket boycott at any time this season. This is a fanzine, run by volunteers in our spare time. Personally, I’m not convinced a season ticket boycott would be effective or would be supported.

    • David Rutherford says:

      That’s fine, I wouldn’t expect you or anyone else to blindly lead calls for a boycott if you weren’t 100% behind it but I disagree that a co-ordinated effort wouldn’t be wildly supported. Let’s just say, hypothetically, that yourself and others were in favour of a match boycott: a few editorials on influential, respected and well-read sites such as this and urging people to miss the next home game would, I predict, garner enough support to make a significant dent on the attendance. It wouldn’t affect Ashley’s bank balance (although if enough non-season ticket holders didn’t buy tickets it may cause a slight ripple) but it would certainly rattle him. Perhaps I’m wrong and just clutching at straws (I may well be both) but the main argument I hear against boycotting games is that not enough people would do it. Which overall I have to agree with. But surely a bit of organisation and endorsement from could change that? And if it didn’t? What the hell, me and everyone else who keep tiresomely banging on about it will admit we were wrong. It certainly would’ve been worth a try and it’s not gonna make us – every Newcastle fan who pays money to watch their team – look any weaker than we already do.

  20. FD says:

    Stevie Mac. Yawn yawn. I have only felt the need to reply to 2 comments on here. Both yours. Once again your ignorance of nufc is clear. You clearly watch every game from a pub on foreign channels. Robson had to go. 5th was not good enough. If you had actually gone to games back then you would have been told off fellow fans that supporting him was not what most true fans did. Face it Fatty has done nowt right

  21. Kevin Reay says:

    The real reason you won’t give up your season ticket is because you are too selfish to do so. You know, and so do I, that if Ashley was starved of that money he’d be off like a shot. It will never happen whilst apologists keep on peddling the idea that a boycott isn’t viable. Why not give it a try and see, rather than waiting for others to do it. When your grandkids ask what you did to save Newcastle from the monster that is Ashley I hope you tell him the honest answer, that you and thousands like you did nowt, because you were too selfish. We all have that “right” to go the match, but some of us chose not to exercise it for the greater good.

  22. Peter Maddison says:

    If you want to influence Mike Ashley, attack something he cares about – Sports Direct! We know he’s not bothered by NUFC. Think how 500 fans in his shop could stop his real profit maker. 500 off the crowd at SJP won’t be noticed (by him). Go for his hearts blood. Target Sports Direct – legally!

  23. STEPHEN says:

    Correct, Bobby Robson had lost the support.

    Some people still believe in the romance of it all as the mists of time fade the memory.