I don’t expect that you will ever read this, but I’m going to write it anyway. It is not a letter to tell you to sell Newcastle United or to tell you how much I dislike you (I don’t) or to leave our club alone. No, I have a lot of respect for your success, but I just want to put some things into perspective from a different viewpoint regarding ownership of a premiership football club.
The first bit of perspective is that there are roughly 7.5 Billion people on this planet at the moment, and there are just 20 Premiership football teams. So, out of those 7.5 Billion people, only 20 will ever be in the privileged position to be able to own a football club in the English Premier league at one time. (Ok, so some clubs are owned by companies, or groups of people, but perhaps you understand the point). You, as the owner of NUFC, are in fact, 1 of those incredibly privileged people.
The second bit of perspective is something you already know, and that is you are incredibly successful and have some billions of pounds at your disposal. Not all cash assets of course, but even so, there is likely to be a few quid spare. You are clearly an incredibly talented and shrewd businessman to achieve what you have and to build this from nothing. However, why do we ultimately want to earn money? Here, I can only speak from my own perspective, but there may be some parallels.
I don’t look at my bank balance every day and think, wow, look how much money I have. It’s not the money itself that is important, in my view, it’s what that money allows us to do in order to improve our lives and lifestyles. More money may allow us to have a better holiday, a nicer house, go to better restaurants, buy nicer cars, work fewer hours to spend more time with our family, etc. The money itself, whether it is a few hundred, a few thousand or indeed millions or billions, is not the endpoint, it is a means to an end.
My bank balance is considerably less than yours, but I am sure you are the same essentially, the money is a means to an end, rather than the endpoint itself. Bigger houses, buying a yacht or diamonds for your wife, go to the casino without any worries, buying another company or indeed being in the position to buy a football club. Just, in perspective, a better lifestyle than the one you had 20 or 30 years ago. I could easily spend everything I own in hours or days if I’m not careful. You, however, would struggle to spend all that money before you die, even if you live another 50 years.
So, back to the football club and NUFC. You are one of 20 people out of 7.5 billion. You are in a super, unique position to have the real thing instead of a Playstation or Xbox. You have a very exclusive, wealthy man’s plaything, and you have a choice. You can play with it, nurture it, take it to the heights and make it the best it can be and enjoy it. Or, you can pull its arms and legs off, twist it’s head off and watch it wither and die. There are some owners in the premiership that do the former, and some that do the latter.
Newcastle United is not just another business, Mike. You do not have thousands of people buying season tickets to go and shop in Sports Direct. There are not thousands of people all around the world, waiting and waiting for Saturday to come around so they can stand in front of a Sports Direct shop, enter, and buy a pair of training shoes or a pair of shorts.
What do you have in your hands, Mike? Well, you have a city, a nation of faithful supporters, an army around the world to whom Newcastle United is an identity, a way of life, a connection to home when they are far away (like Dubai). The great Sir Bobby Robson put it in a way no one else could; “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. It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.”
I’m sure you must be able to understand this. You owe your lifestyle to Sports, you chose to buy a Football club, rather than something else, so sport must be in your blood, as it is in mine. Use NUFC for your pleasure, enjoy it. You have it in your hands to give pleasure to the millions of fans around the world, put some money into it, not to make more profit, but to nurture it, feed it, help it grow and make it as good as it can be and enjoy it because you can. You have an incredible Manager, even more incredible fan base and a stadium many clubs would die for in the heart of a football city. You have 125 years of heritage and a whole city behind you.
I am just 1 of those fans. There are thousands like me. Not just the 52,000 that come week after week, rain or shine, win or lose to St James’ Park, but many more thousands around the world. Believe me when I say that what you put into our club, you will take out a thousand-fold in good feeling, warmth and happiness.
A final thought. Even if it is still just a ‘business’ to you and an advertising medium for Sports Direct, then think of this; Associative marketing. Sports Direct branding associated with a struggling club, losing and at the bottom end of the league, or Sports Direct associated with a Champions league team, winning and competing at the top.
You still have time. Try it and give Rafa what he needs. Enjoy what you and only 19 others out of 7.5 Billion are privileged to enjoy on a weekly basis. Be the owner that you can be, invest, use that money in your bank account to enjoy what you have, and please make Newcastle United great again.
A true Black and White Toon Army Fan
This open letter was penned by passionate lifelong Toon supporter Dubai Toon, who regularly contributes to this blog and follows his team’s every move from far, far away.