true faith : POLITICAL FOOTBALL – They Just Don’t Care

by • February 3, 2014 • Political footballComments (16)1006

So, for the first time in over 90 years Newcastle United have lost three derby games in a Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier Leaguerow. Inevitably the blame game has started, but for me there is only one person to point the finger at. Just as U.S. President Harry S. Truman famously had a sign on his desk, bearing the phrase ‘the buck stops here’, so to me the buck stops with Mike Ashley. And of course buck is the operative word. It was an accident of the fixture list that lead to us playing Sunderland the day after the closing of the January Transfer Window, but the fact that we sold our best player, with quite clearly never any real intention of replacing him., on the week before a derby. just about sums it all up. Ashley has ripped the soul out of our great club and I fear that it will never return until he is gone.

Somebody at work commented that the sale of Cabaye was a ‘great piece of business’. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of that phrase. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see Newcastle United go the way of Leeds United or Portsmouth, even if both those clubs have at least won a major trophy since Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon.  A football club does have to be run sensibly. However, it is not just a business. At the end of the day I have no doubt that Nat West bank do some ‘great pieces of business’, but you wouldn’t spend £500 a year to spend 19 Saturday afternoons watching them at work at the Northumberland Street branch would you?

At the end of day, there is one great charge to be laid at Ashley’s door. I remember the likes of Lord Westwood and Gordon McKeag. Incompetent and unambitious they were certainly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they weren’t interested.

Mike Ashley, on the other hand, simply doesn’t care.

And that presents supporters with a dilemma – or two.  Firstly, while the heart and soul of the club is being ripped out, while our club is treated as little more than a marketing tool for Sports Direct, helping no doubt to keep the majority of the employees on the despicable zero hours contracts, whilst we are sponsored by a bunch of glorified loan sharks, it is hard to keep caring. You know you should, that it is really our club not Ashley’s but, but…..

If one accepts that under Ashley we will never achieve anything other than Premier League survival, despite having the third highest attendances in England, the second dilemma is what to do about it. Probably the last time we felt as disillusioned with a regime was a quarter of century ago, after the dismal 1989/89 season ended in relegation. Mc Keag was forced out partly by a fans boycott. Now to be fair, there were other factors involved, not least the fact that the club was in a dire finacial situation and there was a potential new owner waiting in the wings, neither of which is true today.

All the same, considering the thick skin of Ashley and his complete contempt for the supporters,  it is difficult to escape the conclusion that as long as 50 000 supporters are prepared to pay good money and attend every league game and the astounding amount of television money keeps rolling in, Ashley won’t be going anywhere in a hurry.  And as long as Ashley stays in control, we will see a club just going through the motions, whilst he gets as much as he can out it.

Ashley of course is not the only ridiculously wealthy individual in Britain who doesn’t care about the people he is supposed to be caring about. In the last couple of weeks, I have read one headline about ‘Booming Britain’, whilst other right-wing commentators have crowed about the success of the governmet’s economic policy. And what is the cause of such jubilation? After nearly four dismal years, the economic growth rate has finally risen to a higher rate than it was at the time of the last general election in 2010. Marvellous.

It is also argued that the economic recovery, such as it is, is really only based on an artificial housing bubble in the Southeast of England. The kind of housing bubble, which only leads to another big crash, sooner or later, being built on the quicksands of dubious credit. At the end of the day all Osborne’s predictions about the economy, from growth rates to when the deficit would be paid off, have been wrong. And I don’t know anybody here in Northeast England who feels that we are in the midst of a booming economy…

But then what should we expect from a cabinet composed of a bunch of millionaires from the South? Perhaps it is little wonder that they don’t care about ordinary people in a region, such as ours. They don’t need to…and they clearly don’t care any more than Ashley cares about the supporters at Newcastle United. Although to be fair, the desperate situation concerning the flooding in Somerset, on the back of drastic cuts in flood prevention supported by Environment minister and Climate Change Sceptic, Owen Paterson, does suggest that the millionaires in the cabinet don’t care about ordinary people in that county either.

So, we support a football club run by an owner who doesn’t care and live in a country run by a government that doesn’t care. What is to be done? Well, for many the answer is obvious; put it out of your mind and plough a safe course of apathy. As long as you have enough money for a few beers at the weekend and an annual subcsription to Sky Sports, why bother…..  Given the way economic and political power is distributed in both football and the country at large, it is not for me to judge anybody who does just that.

However, I can’t accept that there aren’t ways to end the concentrations of power and money, which lead us to having so much of our lives run, or should that be ruined, by a wealthy out-of-touch elite. At the end of the day, as the saying goes, whether we are thinking about Mike Ashley or the present government, we are the many, they are the few. They only have power because we allow them to have it. Our national and regional history is littered with instances when powerful elites were challenged – and soundly  defeated – by well-organised groups of ‘ordinary’ people, who often acted in extraordinary ways and crucially displayed a great solidarity. It can happen again.

But it needs a solidarity, which today seems elusive, as long as people are bought off with consumerist individualism, the real opium of the people and allow themselves to be sedated by a national media, which must rank amongst the worst in the western world. Simply complaining and being apathetic can never be enough. The time for organising and challenging the smug elites is surely upon us.

© Peter Sagar February 2014

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16 Responses to true faith : POLITICAL FOOTBALL – They Just Don’t Care

  1. James Mercer says:

    You had me agreeing with you UNTIL you started your socialist left wing crap ?!

  2. #owngaffer says:

    My contribution will be to cancel Sky Sports and my letter to their Chief Executive will cite Ashley as the reason. A mass cancellation of Sky contracts would put Ashley under the microscope.

  3. Barry Oswald says:

    Taking action that would damage our Club won’t bother Ashley because, as your article says, he just doesn’t care.
    If, however, we could find a way to damage Sports Direct and it’s share price, now that might get his attention.
    In business parlance, when Ashley wants to buy something from someone who doesn’t want to sell to him he “parks his tanks on their lawns”.
    Now there’s a thought !!!!!!

  4. Peter Sagar says:

    In reply to James Mercer, if you have evidence to prove that the millionaires in the Cabinet really do care about the working people of Northeast England, please do share it with us!!

    • Jezza says:

      Agreed 100%. The only person spouting “crap” on this forum is James Mercer.

    • Geordie69 says:

      That must be the same as the number of millionaires within the labour shadow cabinet who also care about the working class then? Lets focus on Football matters not some mis guided ideology from Socialist Worker writings claptrap..

    • hey Peter, think Bob Crow gives a toss about the ‘working man’ as he’s lying on the beach ?
      “Bob Crow pays an estimated rent of £150 a week for his home in Woodford Green, Essex. A similar property is being advertised on the open market for £450,000. Let’s say he opted to buy now, as most people on his income would. And let’s assume he could put down a £50,000 deposit. That would leave him needing a mortgage of £400,000.

      His monthly repayments would come to around £2,250 — that’s £27,000 a year. His rent is just £7,800 annually. He’s almost twenty grand better off staying put — more than enough to pay for a couple of luxury cruises every year.

      So, you can argue that taxpayers aren’t only subsidising his housing costs, they’re subsidising his holidays, too.

      Just imagine how Crow would react if it was revealed that a six-figure banker or wealthy Tory minister was occupying a council house and denying a deprived family on the waiting list a roof over their heads, while swanning round the Caribbean and Copacabana.”

  5. Paul Brown says:

    Sorry there seem to be two articles mixed up here. It got lost at the point of what can we do about Ashley and appeared to get tangled with some communist bollocks from the 1970s.

  6. John says:

    I’ve posted this already elsewhere online as regards NUFC, but it’s the only way forward. People are angry, fans of many years are turning their back, often painfully giving up their connection with the club they love. The best way to change things is to organise – please join NUST (http://www.nust.org.uk/). Ultimately, fans need a stake in our club; you may think it’s impossible, but look what Swansea have achieved. Let’s channel our anger towards the Fat Controller, or nowt will change….

  7. tom bates says:

    Bye JFK only two liars left now

  8. Greeny's Guitar says:

    Only a closed political mind could come up with a comparison like this.
    I agree with all you have said about Ashley and I may concede a few points you have made about the government but you cannot compare the two. Ashley owns our club lock stock and barrel and can basically take the piss as much as he likes. This government has been democratically elected by the populous of our wonderful country and should the populous decide will be voted out in the next election. Peter you can vote any way you like although I know which way you will vote regardless of the issues that matter.

    • The Coalition Government has not been democratically elected at all. More people voted against Tory policies in 2010 than for them. It is only because of the treachery of the Lib Dems their policies are being pursued and only because they have trashed their own policies (student grants, austerity).

  9. Greeny's Guitar says:

    Sorry but the end of my last posting disappeared.

    Fortunately the majority have open minds, will assess the issues and will vote accordingly, as they did in 1979 and 1997 and other elections. Push as hard as you like but the revolution you so desperately want will not happen. Remember the Labour party had to abandon long held principles, undergo an image and name change to get elected as pseudo tories in 1997. The biggest turncoat John Prescott offered us the opportunity to have our own regional assembly but he was democratically told where to stick it. And while I’m on that tack he may have contributed to the imbalance you refer to by demolishing over 150,00 council houses in the north instead of renovating them. I’m off on a tangent now but what I’m saying is Governments in this country will only ever be deposed by election and nothing else and solidarity against Ashley will not work because he doesn’t care. Apologies for rambling.

  10. Greeny's Guitar says:

    Michael call it want you want but that is democracy. Did Blairs decision to go to war in Iraq with Bush have the backing of the British public. Not bloody likely but because it was a decision made by elected representatives it was democracy in action. Ditto the coalition.