Wednesday 19 December 2018

owner ashley's so out of toon

Newcastle's reputation as a selling club has alienated fans and could hurt him in long term

IT is no accident to me that two of the most unpopular men in football have ended up running the show at Newcastle United. Mike Ashley and Alan Pardew are well suited.

When I say running the show, I'm being a bit loose with my words, as far as Pardew is concerned. Rarely has there been a better example of a football manager who appears to enjoy such limited control over his club.

If there was any scope for sympathy left in this situation, Pardew would be a candidate for it but he has done an awful lot wrong in his career to date and from where I'm sitting, deserves everything he gets.

His boss, Mr Ashley, is obviously a bit of a wizard when it comes to business and is turning a nice profit from the sales of his merchandise and kit.

He also seems to think that it is possible to use a football club as a kind of giant warehouse for players, mostly from France, who he ships in every season, then sells off the best nine months later and starts again.

Pardew doesn't seem to know from one month to the next who will be at the club or not and the notion that he would have had summer transfer targets is hilarious.

Graham Carr is the man responsible for scouting players in the Newcastle system and he brought in nine new ones during the summer. He's a busy lad.

From what I've seen of them, they are of a very poor standard and that's been a feature of the transfer dealings at Newcastle over a number of years.

They seem to go through an awful lot of players apart from one decent spell two seasons ago when Newcastle flirted with the top of the table, Pardew has been fighting a losing battle with the ever-decreasing pool of talent available to him.

Pardew stuck his chest out when things were going well and demanded that we accept his right to be a Premier League top dog. Ashley responded and gave him a seven-year deal.

This is a high wire act for Ashley who I'm sure reckons he is the master of the universe. He's coining it in his business, the club is a selling club and from everything I've seen in the last few years, he couldn't care less what anyone thinks.

He stood by Pardew before when the fans wanted him out and again when he lost the plot completely and had a go at young David Meyler.

Now he says he is standing by his man and how galling must that be for the average season ticket holder. They continue to pay every year and have their noses rubbed in it.

There was a time when Newcastle was everyone's second club. We loved the romance and the drama and empathised with long suffering fans.

But Ashley should be very careful. He has already stepped on many old traditions at St James' Park and as a man who understands brands should know, you're not worth much if you're yesterday's news.

People are fed up with Newcastle because the level of headlines has dropped steadily towards the basement. Neutrals have no interest in bad repeats and all we are seeing now is low budget.

The team matches the storyline and there lies the greatest danger for Ashley. Relegation could bring the whole house of cards toppling down and when he goes to the well of goodwill usually available for Newcastle in the toughest times, it might be dry.

That's the biggest danger I see on the dramatic change in ownership of football clubs we have seen in England and throughout the world.

I agree that there is a huge threat to the game from match-fixing and that club and player ownership is relevant to this but to me, the damage being done by unthinking or uncaring owners is the biggest concern of all.

It's fine for a corporate giant like Manchester United to function in a global market but very few clubs have that reach. Most still rely on season ticket sales.

If the game loses its connection with football fans, locals who live and breathe the club as generations of their families have done before them, then we're done.


I see it happening around me and I've said this before. People within the game I know don't bother going anymore and it doesn't look any better when it's dissected by Sky's all-seeing eye.

I know that the whole Leeds United saga has been heart-breaking for the fans and a once great club struggles from one drama to the next without any end in sight.

The game brings us back, always, but if a club like Newcastle United is becoming a just another tedious example of an owner with no understanding for the club he holds in trust, a time will come when more and more of us just won't bother anymore.

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