While we welcome interest from potential buyers for Newcastle United, we remain sceptical about Mike Ashley’s willingness to sell the club.
One of the reasons for this scepticism is a clear correlation between takeover stories appearing during transfer windows and importantly ahead of 31 January, which is the season ticket renewal deadline for fans on long-term ticket plans.
This is the third January in a row that has seen takeover rumours receive international media attention. In 2018 and 2019, these takeover stories dissolved across February, when the season ticket deadline had passed. Perhaps this was just a coincidence.
Last summer saw an extended takeover process, where potential buyers released a statement saying “we have agreed terms” [with Ashley] ultimately fall through. This same summer thousands of fans made the difficult decision to cancel their season tickets in response to Mike Ashley’s ownership of our club.
The club confirmed at least 5,000 season ticket holders walked away but with the average attendance of the first 10 competitive games of the season being the lowest since St James’ was expanded from being a 36,000-seater stadium in 2000, it is likely even more chose to turn their backs.
We believe that Ashley’s response to fans boycotting was releasing 10,000 free half-season tickets to “reward the loyalty” of current season ticket holders. This could in fact be viewed as a short-sighted move to protect his own business interests and the negative association with his brands that a successful boycott brings.
With the 31 January season ticket deadline for those on long term deals approaching yet again, what incentive is there for fans to renew their tickets – apart from the possibility of a takeover taking place ahead of the new season?
The club has taken no action to encourage those paying fans to renew their tickets nor have they done anything to reach out to those who cancelled last summer.
Our message to Mike Ashley: Prove the sceptics like us who believe that you are unwilling to sell our football wrong. Sell Newcastle United to a party that has the ambition to make us the top six club we were before you took control – let us have something to dream about once again!
Toon For Change, 27 January 2020