By Chris McMillan
I’ve been a Newcastle supporter all my life, and am now in my 70’s and live in Australia. I was born at Willington Quay, on the banks of the Tyne. I can vividly remember as a small child being taken to St James Park and seeing it for the first time. My father, and grandfather were also proud supporters so, like many others who live and breathe NUFC all over the world, the last 11 years have been soul destroying.
Every morning (your evening) here, I check the internet for any good news on the club. Every morning is a let down.
Over this period with Mike Ashley in control, the fans have had a torrid roller coaster ride. Looking on from far away, I’ve often thought, as many others have done, ‘why does Ashley act this way?’
He’s a very successful businessman, shrewd, tough negotiator, quick learner and knows how to make a dollar. But….. It seems he runs his businesses completely differently to our club. He must see the “speculate to appreciate” approach of the bigger clubs reaps huge rewards, yet he does the opposite. No expansion, no improvements, no investment etc.
When you look at the disastrous way our club teeters along year after year with a couple of relegations thrown in, managers coming and going, the treatment of Kevin Keegan and Chris Hughton, the Dennis Wise era, Joe Kinnear, the banning of the press, renaming of St James Park, the supposed sale of the club, the many instances of just failing to get the new players “over the line” for whatever reason….the list goes on. Very little money to spend…. promises that more will be available soon and being disappointed time after time. The valuable resource that is the club itself and the fan base, slowly being decimated. The club being run into the ground. Giving the fans hope… and then dashing those dreams.
Constantly turning on a ray of hope, then switching it off.
Recently, getting a brilliant manager onboard, and basically giving him nothing. It goes on. Nothing but despair.
It doesn’t make sense.
Or does it?
If you take the fact that he doesn’t actually lose money anymore… and since the very early days, the profits on incoming funds from transfers seem to vanish. It’s not costing him a penny. Then there’s the massive free advertising around the ground that apparently generates no income for players or improvements. Where is this money? The club just limps along year after year…. season after season…with seemingly no concern to the owner…. just the fans. No visits to the games for many months, no apparent interest, and crucially, no communication with anyone except through chosen mouthpieces.
And then it hit me….. one word…… the only thing that makes sense:
He’s playing a game with us. Like a cat with a mouse. He doesn’t seem to care.
It’s not so far fetched…. go back to the beginning… the early Ashley months, out on the terraces, beers with the boys…. happy smiling faces. Then cracks appeared and his decisions started to ruffle a few feathers. Many fans were beginning to get annoyed with him I recall.
Then, one match day during this period if I remember correctly, he brought his young daughter along, and I believe things got a bit fraught…. perhaps was there abuse shouted? I don’t know, but I distinctly remember some problem occurring (Someone closer than me to news sources could check dates here).
From that point on, it was all downhill for the fans.
Revenge on the fans for over a decade, and it continues now unabated, with no sign of him stopping his game. He’s getting his free advertising, not spending and unless a crazy offer for the club comes along… he’ll just continue with more of the same. Look at the Amanda Staveley situation and the sudden increase of £100m on the asking price of the club. The question is, did he ever intend to sell even though he apparently put the club in the marketplace?
The fact that we now have Rafa only adds to the torture, knowing how well we could do with some backing for him. If my theory is correct, this situation won’t end happily as the treatment of the fans in this way is exactly the plan.
What will stop him?
I could be totally out here, but as I said…. to me it’s the one thing that makes sense, and until he goes…. every morning will be a disappointment.
I only hope it won’t take another decade to change, or for him to get bored playing his game.