Monday night saw the much-lauded Fan’s Forum meet for the second time this season – without the only democratically constituted fan’s body (NUST) making this an arbitrary talking shop but that is another matter – with the minutes of the forum appearing on the official Newcastle United page the very next morning. To say the answers that were given to some of the questions posed were wholly unsatisfactory is an understatement.
The club’s stance regarding their refusal to consider reinstating NUST to the Forum, as well as their ‘indefinite’ ban on NCJ media from St James’ Park remains a constant concern, giving off the impression that it is ‘my way or the highway’ as far as Mike Ashley is concerned. However, these remain side issues as the Forum threw up a number of pressing concerns for the club in the long run.
It was stated that because we only generated revenue of around £6m due to our participation in the Europa League last season that this was not sufficient funds to strengthen the squad, and that if we were to qualify for the Europa League again, the club would not invest in additional players to help us cope with the added burden of extra games. It would appear that Ashley has not learnt from past mistakes. The failure to invest in more players last season almost saw us relegated from the Premier League, and if we were to qualify for the Europa League, Ashley would once more, send us out ill-equipped to deal with it. My reading of this situation is that Ashley does not intend/want us to qualify for the Europa League, therefore making this a moot point.
Another issue that was raised at the first Fan’s Forum, and again on Monday night, was the issue of Sports Direct paying for advertising space and what, if any, steps has Ashley taken to find sponsors to pay to advertise at St James’ Park. Mike Ashley must think that we, as fans, are a bunch of idiots if he wants us to believe that there are not sponsors falling over themselves to try to gain the worldwide exposure that would come with advertising at one of the most recognisable stadiums in English football, in one of the most covered leagues in world football. We are to believe that no one – NOT ONE SINGLE COMPANY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD – would be willing to pay to advertise at our stadium and as such we must put up with Sports Direct not paying a single penny!
I don’t like the fact that Sports Direct advertise at the stadium, but I could put up with it if they paid for it and contributed financially to the club. I find no logical reason for SD (and its affiliate companies Firetrap, Republic et al) getting free advertising at the club. I am unsure how much money would be generated if we charged for advertising, but surely it would contribute largely towards squad investment, wages, signing on fees etc that would strengthen the team? Perhaps, this is Ashley’s own personal form of interest for the loan that he has ‘given’ to the club. If that is the case then the apologists can stop calling it an interest free loan from our illustrious saviour.
As for the ridiculous news story that came out a week or so ago about Ashley sanctioning 4 signings in the January window? Well that was quite clearly rubbished by the Fan’s Forum. When asked if we were going to strengthen in this window the club said,
“The board explained its view was that the current squad is stronger than it has been for some time. It was stated that if the right player became available for the right price, perhaps the club would bring someone into the squad. If not, it would not add to it.”
That doesn’t scream ‘4 signings’ to me…
Add to that, the continuing failure from the club to secure Category 1 for our Academy (and turning that fact into PR spin that they want to let young players have a chance to represent their local club) must be seen as a massive flaw in Ashley’s 5 year plan…or 8 year plan, or whatever year plan we’re currently on.
We are also told that the massive fall in our commercial revenue was a matter of ‘perception’ rather than reality? What sort of idiotic nonsense is that! They try to compensate our fall in commercial revenue with the line that ‘profits are better’ – YES OF COURSE THEY ARE BETTER, WE HAVE HAD A MASSIVE WINDFALL DUE TO TELEVISION REVENUE THAT ASHLEY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH! – Do they really think we are that stupid to fall for such a poor explanation!?
As for the bulls*** explanation that due to our ‘partnership’ with Sports Direct is much more beneficial, ie can purchase stock much cheaper, store it much cheaper than other clubs can, which is why we paid SD 500k in our last accounts, the reality is that we are financially lagging behind the likes of Southampton who do not have these benefits, so this is yet another attempt to hoodwink and bamboozle our fans into believing some PR nonsense.
My overriding message is that our club is run by a crook. He then employs PR men to make his crooked deals and method of operation seem legitimate. They use smoke and mirrors, deception and PR speak in order to deceive and some people lap it up because it puts a smile on their face and makes them believe the club is going in the right direction.
Thankfully, more and more people are awakening from their gullibility coma and asking the pertinent questions.
The Fan’s Forum is completely illegitimate. It is not representative of the fans. Appointments to it are undemocratic and arbitrary. If you wish to communicate with a Forum member you must do this through Wendy ‘Goebbels’ Taylor.
Take heed of the questions that are being asked, as they are the same questions that were asked at the first forum, and will undoubtedly be the same questions asked at the next, and any forthcoming forums. It is a talking shop for club puppets, not fans.
Reinstate the Newcastle United Supporters Trust and have the hard-hitting questions asked. Otherwise we are in for more repetitive drivel time and time again.