We all know that in recent weeks the club has taken steps to prevent the hard questions being asked. NUST asked a number of incisive questions, some of which caused negative publicity for the club (the question relating to whether or not the club wants silverware or not being a prime example) and so the club ensured that by banning NUST the hard-hitting questions will no longer be asked, never mind answered. Personally I do not know some of the remaining Fans Forum members, and those I do know, I do not trust to ask the hard questions for fear of losing their ‘links’ with the club.
It is with this in mind that a number of Newcastle United fans, myself included, took to drafting up 11 questions that were presented to the club before the Norwich City match yesterday. Here are a list of the questions posed by the supporters:
1. I am an online shopper and I note that nufcdirect.com is owned by Sports Direct. Does the merchandise money go to Sports Direct, or does Sports Direct take a percentage of the revenue? If so, how much?
I’ve been supporting the club for 60 years – my Dad is a lifelong supporter, as are my grandsons now. I actually saw Jackie Milburn play and remember standing at Central Station in 1952 for the parade of the FA Cup.
2. By 2011-12, our commercial revenue was £13.8m. How has the club managed to lose over half of our commercial revenue in 6 years?
I am 62 years old and I have been supporting the club ever since I heard my great-uncle speak about the great Newcastle United matches of the 1950s. My first match was in 1965 and I have been going regularly ever since. I even saw Bobby Moncur raise the Fairs Cup at St James’ Park in 1969.
3. Can the club please explain why Newcastle United have paid Sports Direct £498,000, an issue that is made all the more galling given how Sports Direct do not pay a single penny for advertising?
I am 46, and I was 2 years old when my Grandad first took me to see Newcastle United, which was luckily when they won the Fairs Cup. The first game I can remember going to was in 1976 and I started going to away games in 1983.
4. Alan Pardew said in the summer that Newcastle United could not compete with Southampton because they were ‘financially much stronger than us’. Does the club think that the current commercial strategy will ensure that we can compete with clubs like Southampton in the future?
I am 21 and I have supported Newcastle United since the age of 3. My first game was when I was 6. I’ve had a season ticket for just over 10 years and I was there in 2009 at Villa Park when we got relegated, which was one of the worst days of my life.
5. Can the club explain why club membership is being imposed upon season ticket holders, while ordinary members of the public can buy match-day tickets without this financial obligation? The perception is that the club does not value their most loyal supporters.
37 years old. Lifelong NUFC supporter. Longtime season ticket holder. Follow Newcastle home and away and attended many European games.
6. Can the club explain why club membership is increasing year-on-year, despite the supposed 10 year price freeze for season ticket holders. Is this not akin to a stealth tax for the club’s most loyal supporters?
I am 45 years old and I have supported this club since 1974. My very first match was David Craig’s testimonial against Sunderland. I have been a season ticket holder for 20 years.
7. Is outsourcing in-ground catering and hospitality the best way of maximising commercial revenue for Newcastle United?
I am 23 years old. I have supported this club since I was 6 years old. I first fell in love with Keegan’s Entertainers, but when Alan Shearer signed for the club in 1996 I was hooked.
8. Mike Ashley is lauded as being a great businessman. Why is it then that he is generally perceived as being bad for business at Newcastle United, as the club’s accounts would seem to indicate?
Aged 24. Supported the club for 10 years.
9. For all the marchers who took to the street to ‘march for ambition’ is there anything that the club can say to them that will possibly convince them that Newcastle United is being run with ambition?
Shiobhan Coogan & Brian Hall
I am 55 years old and I have been supporting Newcastle United since 1973 when I was only 15 years old and first started living in Newcastle. I have only ever had a season ticket for 1 year but I have been to many games in St James’ Park and I have even brought my son up to be a Newcastle United supporter.
I am 56 years old and I ended up at my first match when I was only 6. Despite some setbacks along the way I have never regretted the fact that I am part of some of the most loyal and passionate fans in world football. I am simply proud to be part of the NUFC tribe.
10. Why is it that a company like Sports Direct, which has generated £2.2 billion in revenue according to latest figures, cannot pay for its advertising in St James’ Park?
I am 56 years old and I have supported the club since 1973 and rarely missed a game. Not only have I been to see the first team play in St James’ Park but I have been to see the reserves play many times. I was a season ticket holder from the time of the ground extension but have recently decided not to renew my season ticket.
11. I love the club and have supported Newcastle United my entire life. As I attempted to display a protest poster relating to NCJ media’s recent ban from St James’ Park, stewards prevented me from doing so. Why is the club trying to stifle the opinions of life long supporters such as myself?
Aged 52. Been going to games since 1969 when the club won the Fairs Cup.
What is also interesting to note is that the club’s liaison officer, Lee Marshall, was informed on Friday that we would be arriving at the club at 1pm to deliver these questions, and that we wanted to deliver them to him personally. When arriving at reception, we were told that Lee was not aware and that it would be difficult for him to come and see us. We politely asked the receptionist to ensure that Mr Marshall was in receipt of these questions and she informed us that she would endeavour to do just that. However, recent PR spin coming from Lee Marshall is that he did not receive the questions yesterday.
Lee works in PR, so his job is to spin things to suit himself or the club. Lee was told on Friday that we would be coming, so he deliberately made himself unavailable so he could turn around and say ‘I did not receive the questions’ which is a disappointing approach from someone whose job is supposed to include liaising with the fans. If he did not receive the questions I would have to ask why? Is the lines of communication between reception and club PR that bad? The point of the matter is that, regardless of whether Lee Marshall received the questions yesterday or not, they are widely publicised and as such he should get cracking on the answers.
Over to you Lee.