true faith in THE TIMES

by • April 18, 2015 • NewsComments (16)1583

During the week I was invited to draft a piece for THE TIMES (I know, get me eh?) and it was published in this morning’s paper ahead of the #BoycottSpurs tomorrow.

As I did the piece for nowt, I feel justified in re-publishing it here for those who don’t buy/subscribe to THE TIMES.

That is all.

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“What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes. It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.” Sir Bobby Robson. 

As a neat summation of what supporters feel for their clubs I don’t think many can go pastManchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League this homespun wisdom from a Co Durham miner’s son. Robson understood what made supporters fall in love with football. He played on north east mud for Langley Park, he managed at the World Cup, the Nou Camp and St James’ Park. Here was a man who could look into a crowd and understand what drew the people from firesides in the biting cold of a late winter afternoon.

Robson’s emotional intelligence is utterly absent in the cold, dead, money-making heart of Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United. Over eight years, Ashley’s artless ownership has drained the life out of one of English football’s most iconic clubs. As a lifelong supporter of this maddening institution, I regard it as special, just as the fan of any club does their own, and in Newcastle’s case, it is the focus of a city, a region’s pride, its hopes, its longing and its dreams.

Ashley has crushed that. Also-rans with a self-imposed glass ceiling, Newcastle are deliberately non-competitive in cup competitions (not “a priority,”), for fear it upsets a fragile financial model. Who view the Europa League as a strain on a threadbare squad, assembled to achieve league survival and no more. With players signed on the promise of an opportunity before being sold on at profit. Cold, calculating, joyless.

As one of those ‘deluded Geordies’ of media imagination, I could be accused of a lack of understanding of the wider financial world Newcastle finds itself in. The overwhelming body of our support knows it cannot hope to compete with Roman Abramovich or Sheihk Mansour, but this is no raggy-arsed operation. It remains in the top-10 best supported clubs in Europe and is in the top-20 wealthiest clubs on the continent. It attracts the third-highest gates in the Premier League.

For all of Ashley’s business genius, every income stream (bar television) has narrowed under his tenure. Less money at the gate, from merchandising, from commercial and corporate since his takeover in 2007. In those same eight years, not a single player has emerged from the ranks to establish himself as a first-team regular (bothTim Krul and Andy Carroll were already here when Ashley arrived).

The news this week that Newcastle ended the last financial year with £34m in the bank has scandalised a support watching its tattered, managerless team nosedive down the table and write off a second successive season. Eight years? God, it seems longer. We are at breaking point, frustrated by a club which has disengaged from the community that has sustained it since 1892, with senior executives whose response to ferocious condemnation is a silent arrogance.

Tomorrow, the stands will be emptier for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur and the SKY cameras. Some might portray this as the last twitch of a once utterly compelling football club as it sinks slowly into torpor. Or it could be the start of a fightback for the heart and soul of something truly beloved. I firmly believe it is the latter.

MICHAEL MARTIN – Editor, true faith, Newcastle United Fanzine

also at www.true-faith.co.uk Follow on @tfeditor1892 

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16 Responses to true faith in THE TIMES

  1. Phil Bell says:

    Mr Martin, you have been outstanding in the last few weeks. Well done.

    Speaking as someone who has packed it all in and completely given up hope, thanks for motivating our support. Yourself, ashleyout.com, Caulkin and a few others are a true credit to Newcastle United.

  2. Gary Ĺockey says:

    I have waited as long as possible to pass comment and I have read as much as possible this past week. I will be protesting tomorrow (I gave up 14 months ago after 22 years). Anyone still undecided please, please do not go tomorrow. As I have said on this site several times before people get the government’s they deserve. Tomorrow is the time we show we care enough to do something about that and get rid of Ashley who we don’t deserve.

  3. Tom Pitt says:

    Superb writing Michael.
    Last seasons walkout was so poorly supported that it actually helped me to walk away from the club and my season ticket held for 26 years,
    I will be there tomorrow to support the boycott and I hope and pray that it is an obvious visual success.
    If it isnt then then club is dead.
    Heres hoping.

  4. Alan says:

    Took a little while Mr Martin for the hectorers and whingers to persuade you that staying away from the match was the only viable solution on the start of the road to reclaiming OUR club back from the fat fucking parasite.
    I too doff my hat to those behind the campaign and yourself for both promoting and supporting it.
    Tomorrow MUST prove to be a catalyst for a sustained assault on an absolute cunt who I’m certain gets a hard on over the misery he’s inflicting.
    I never thought I could ever feel utter hatred towards anybody as much as I did Thatcher. It’s a close run thing.

    • John Haig says:

      “feel utter hatred towards anybody as much as I did Thatcher” !!

      weird !! – why would you hate the greatest prime minister we have ever had ?

  5. Alan says:

    Oh and one more thing…

    Have I missed something or has there been a deafening silence from Alan Shearer on the planned boycott?
    We could’ve all predicted the churning out of lickspittles like Moncur and Beardsley in condemning any protests or the sitting on the fence of Ryder and his cronies at Thomson House.
    Would’ve been nice to have had the balance redressed a bit by a proper club legend backing the campaign as we’re aware he obviously doesn’t get on with Ashley and appreciates the damage he’s causing.

    Disappointing.

  6. Ian Wallace says:

    Spot on mate, well written, and well done.

  7. Pat Hughes says:

    So many people, including the good folk at true faith, have worked so hard to get the BoycottSpurs campaign up and running – well done to all the national newspapers too for telling it like it is. Thanks and I hope tomorrow’s protest is a successful start to a long campaign.

  8. big mikey says:

    Another excellent piece by you Michael. As a season ticket holder and fan fast approaching 50 years then tomorrows planned boycott has been an agonising decision. I am at this time of writing hoping to have the balls to boycott but will be taking my season ticket with me in case I fail!
    This will be one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life and sincerely hope that it does not disintegrate into some mob frenzy pitting those boycotting and those attending the game.
    We will be pilloried all around the football world if we cannot behave in a civilised and responsible manner. Ashley would be the only winner!
    Let us make our point in the thousands and be applauded from every football corner.
    Let’s hope my balls win the day!

    • Gary Ĺockey says:

      I can well understand the difficulty of missing a game when you have supported the club for so long. But this is ONE game. Surely it is not too much in the grand scheme of things for you to join the boycott. It is fans like you that need to boycott for it to be a success. Please join the boycott.

  9. tom Bates says:

    Proud of those who have organised this and are taking part in the protest. I think those who don’t were probably weaned into football by sky and soccer am. Even if ultimately it doesn’t work standing up for what we believe in is important.

  10. Mark Porteous says:

    Another superb, heartfelt piece Michael. Its great to see some writing in the national press that actually understand whats going on at Newcastle United. I am sick to the back teeth of ill informed, small minded, arrogant journos and pundits talking like they know the facts. George Caulkin, yourself, and a couple of others have recently gone some way to restoring much needed balance.
    Keep up the fight and hopefully this is just the start of getting rid of that horrible parasite and all his yes men

  11. Nigel Pearson says:

    A Stirring, Passionate,Eloquent Call to Arms Michael! Better to Die on Our Feet than Submit on Our Knees to the regime of this passionless, unimaginative, mean spirited Fat Cretin.

    Tomorrow is the Day that all TRUE Newcastle Fans need to Stand Up & Fight for Our Club, Our City, Our Region, Our People!
    No Surrender!
    KTF!
    Keep On Keepin On!
    How Me Bonny Bairns!

    • Nigel Pearson says:

      A Stirring, Passionate,Eloquent Call to Arms Michael! Better to Die on Our Feet than Submit on Our Knees to the regime of this passionless, unimaginative, mean spirited Fat Cretin.

      Tomorrow is the Day that all TRUE Newcastle Fans need to Stand Up & Fight for Our Club, Our City, Our Region, Our People!
      No Surrender!
      KTF!
      Keep On Keepin On!
      Howay Me Bonny Bairns!