Ahead of the club’s match against Man Utd match this weekend, Newcastle United pressure group, Toon For Change has issued concerns for the safety of fans – following the club’s decision to allow non-members and therefore, away fans, to purchase tickets in the stadium’s home areas.
The side’s match against Liverpool earlier this year was marred by violent clashes between home and away supporters, following away fans purchasing tickets in St James’ Park’s home areas, resulting in 22 fans being ejected from the stadium and 7 arrests. It was farcical at times, with fans, police and stewards distracting from what was an enthralling game at times, but the same thing could happen when Man Utd come to town on Sunday if the club are not careful.
The group will also continue encouraging fans to join us in boycotting televised matches at St James’ Park, to protest against Ashley’s ownership of the club.
Joe Moore, a spokesperson for the group says:
“As well as showing a global football audience that we are taking a stand against Ashley, empty seats at the stadium create a negative association with his brand, Sports Direct, which St James’ Park acts as a giant advertising billboard for.
“September saw the addition of even more Sports Direct branding in the stadium, around the tunnel which the players enter the field of play from.
“Two cheap, flimsy, fluorescent tubes more suited to a strip club than a Premier League football stadium, but absolutely befitting for a tacky, toxic brand like Sports Direct. And of course, installed right in time for the Man Utd match which will have an international television audience of tens, maybe hundreds of millions.
“Following dialogue with the club last week, it has become clear that NUFC is effectively unwilling to rule out selling hospitality tickets to large groups of away fans. We have raised concerns that the area will effectively become an extension of the away end – as it did against Liverpool earlier this year.
“Tickets across the stadium are on public sale, meaning that Man Utd fans can buy tickets in home areas with ease. We have already been made aware of a group of 10 away supporters who have managed to purchase tickets in the Milburn Stand. We remain concerned that there may be violent incidents between Man Utd fans and NUFC fans in the stadiums home areas – and have flagged this with the club.
“Block D of Level 7 Leazes West Corner, the closest block to the away section has 24 seats remaining at time of writing. This, in comparison to Block A in the same stand which has around 270 tickets for sale.
“The official attendance provided by the club (which includes season ticket holders who might not be at the game) is likely to around 49,000, with the match appealing to neutrals, the city’s students and of course now, away fans who can buy tickets in home areas with ease.
“Our game against Brighton saw the lowest attendance for a Premier League match at St James’ for over eight years. The boycott movement was mentioned on Match of The Day, during Sky Sports’ coverage of the game, as well as most national and local newspapers last weekend. “
Commentating on the game for Match of The Day, BBC broadcaster Guy Mowbray said:
“I wonder if they’ve counted season ticket holders that haven’t come. I’ve certainly never seen quite so many seats empty here.
“There’s that constant talk of fan boycotts against Mike Ashley’s ownership of the club. Maybe this is the day when it started to have some effect.”
“We will continue to call on fans to boycott televised matches and have nothing but respect for supporters who like us, are sacrificing going to games in order to make a point – it’s time for Ashley to sell our football club.”