Are those who call for a mass boycott of matches deluding themselves? Or have they got the only answer?
Could any group of fans – be that fanzines, NUST or a dedicated campaign group deliver a meaningful boycott?
Remember thus far, the Newcastle United support has singularly failed to respond to any call for action – supporters public meetings have been very poorly attended, organised marches have failed to galvanise support and even the organised walk-out last season v. Cardiff delivered less than 7000 of a 50,000 attendance. Even some of my best friends who detest Ashley, didn’t leave their seats and they can’t explain to me why they didn’t join the walk-out. That’s what we’re dealing with.
The least said about The Chronicle’s effort for a mass hold up of their front page at the Chelsea game last season, the better.
Is Newcastle United’s support lazy, apathetic and has it lost its solidarity, its sense of purpose? Has it lost its pride? Is it just another sanitised support? Just a little bit bigger than the average? Is the passion just all phony?
But go back to the days of the United Supporters For Change in the late 80s, when United were far more reliant upon gate money than they are now and there was still a failure to deliver a mass boycott of games. What’s changed?
If any group of fans organised themselves into a campaign group, would they attract widespread support or would B&W social media crackle with savage criticism of them? Why would any supporter put themselves through the ordeal of being slaughtered by their fellow fans?
Even if our support could organise itself in such a way, would it matter? Would it work? Gate money is a less important part of Newcastle United’s income than it has ever been before and it is becoming increasingly less important to those running Newcastle United. Ashley ignores us and the club treats us with ill-disguised contempt, because it can afford to.
Thousands have already chucked season tickets and Ashley’s response has been to find new supporters to mark down the tickets to. That includes the Family Enclosure on the top deck of the Milburn (which didn’t exist ten years ago and can only exist because there is space vacated by disaffected fans). The many thousands who have walked away from United haven’t had any impact at all. No offence to anyone in the Family Enclosure by the way.
With a new TV deal on the way, likely to bring yet more money into Newcastle United, why would Ashley be arsed about losing a few thousand malcontent fans who he has reviled for years anyway?
Would swathes of empty seats really bother Ashley so much he’d sell the club?
And who would he sell the club to? A nicer billionaire than he is?
Aston Villa fans have deserted Villa Park in their thousands, utterly disillusioned by Randy Lerner’s running of their club. Lerner is still there. Lerner hasn’t moved.
Does a packed St James’ Park not mean United is a more attractive option to a buyer than a one which has been deserted?
More importantly, who would organise this boycott? Is that a job you would like to give to someone else and watch from afar, occasionally taking to cyberspace to slag them off if they didn’t do exactly what you wanted at exactly the right time? That is the predisposition of a large swathe of our support – stand on the sidelines, slagging those who try something.
Are you er (ahem) more of an ideas Mag rather than one of the workers, who actually get off their arses and do something, however small?
Are you a supporter who stands on the pavement when the protest march goes by because you would rather have a pre-match pint than join the back?
Can it be delivered?
Who would organise it?
Would it work?
What action are you going to do?
Are you going to a lot rather than a bit?