I don’t know about you, but since the latest capitulation against the Mackems, I’ve been feeling even more distanced from this club and the players who represent it. In fact, the more I think about the fans relationship with the club, the sicker it seems to be.
Newcastle United is a business. It was formed as a business, and Mike Ashley bought it as a business.
Admittedly, the business is in the area of sports entertainment, but it is still a company with the same profit goals as any other. And you don’t see people with a Greggs tattoo. Well, a quick google search didn’t show any at least… You don’t see people buying a season ticket for Fenwick’s window, or going down the club with their mates to watch Barclays perform.
Obviously, the business needs a certain level of support to succeed financially, but as has been made abundantly clear in the last few issues of the fanzine, the club rely less and less on people walking through the door (so to speak), and more and more on television money. As we’ve seen, once a team is aboard the Premier League gravy train, with prudent financial management, clubs do not need to rely on the size of their home gates (see Bolton, Wigan, etc). And Mike Ashley is certainly running the company on a prudent basis.
Of what the fans actually contribute through the club, the gate money goes into the club, sure. But what about the rest? Merchandise? From my understanding, the online shop is an extension of Sports Direct, so the money would go there. A pint and a pie in the stadium? Goes to the catering company.
So, the money we as fans give to the club, doesn’t actually all go into the club. And the money that does stay there is a fraction of the real income.
We’re not as important as we think we are. Sadly.
If the fans stopped turning up tomorrow, I doubt Ashley would really feel it. It may hurt him in his pocket somewhat, but he still owns the club, and all the other millions that come through it. At the lower levels, this would have an impact. At this level, no.
I’ve mentioned this before, but the situation is different in Germany.
I don’t want to be accused of a German bias, because a) I certainly don’t have one, and b) Germany has its own problems with the game (fan behaviour, for example). But, anyway, in Germany, the clubs were not founded as businesses. They were founded as sporting organisations – members paid their dues and exercised together. In fact, the clubs did not become professional until the 1960s (off the top of my head).
Because of this, they have a stronger bond to their local community, and by empowering the fans with representation and elections, there is a much more healthy relationship between the clubs and their fans, even those with a large degree of outside investment (so, Dortmund and Bayern, for example).
Sure, this relationship has its downsides, such as the lack of capital for player investment (Bayern aside), and the fact that the fans/members apathy can lead to compromise candidates running the clubs, but the bond is there.
And that, for me, is what we need.
I mean, it’s not like we’re gonna win anything in our lifetimes, So we should at least have a mutual relationship with our clubs, not the current situation.