Sports Neglect

Yesterday evening Newcastle United were relegated from the Premier League for the second time in the space of eight seasons, and only the sixth time in our history, following a win by our arch rivals Sunderland no less.

Nobody can argue this relegation has not been coming or that it is undeserved. Since the fateful day Mike Ashley took over our club nearly nine years ago, the club’s average league finishing position has dropped to 14th (from 9th in the same period before Ashley’s arrival) and the club has been involved in relegation scraps in three of the last four seasons.

Make no mistake, this relegation has long been on the cards. The increased spending in the past two transfer windows (not a penny of which came directly from Ashley), using a failed transfer model targeting inexperienced players over proven quality, reeks of a desperate last ditch effort attempt to cling on to Premier League riches rather than a genuine sign of ambition. As does the late and desperate appointment of Rafa Benitez, a quality manager and a man of class and dignity who deserves our respect for attempting to, and almost succeeding in, preventing the inevitable from happening.

Less than twelve months ago, with the club on the brink of relegation, Mike Ashley had the following message to the club’s fans:
“[Responsibility lies at] my door. (…) We may have the cart financially but we now need to bolt the horse on it, and we’re going to (…) Today we don’t need to be unlucky, not today. But from this day forward we will definitely be making our own luck.

In the coming days and weeks we will no doubt hear that a thorough review into the club’s failings in the past season will take place, as we seem to do at the end of every season, but nothing ever changes in the club’s philosophy. Some heads may even roll as Ashley will attempt to lay the blame at the door of the incompetent lackeys he elected to appoint in key positions in the first place. From Llambias to Charnley, from Wise to Carr and from Kinnear to Pardew to Carver to McClaren – the names have changed but the same failings remain. The one constant throughout the last nine years of almost complete and utter failure has been Mike Ashley himself, the man who would have the fans believe he has had “nil effect” on the conduct of the club at board and pitch level.

It is clear though that the the culture of failure that has pervaded every area of the club in the past nine years, and which has led to embarrassing results from the senior team to the reserve and youth teams, doesn’t stem from the stewards, the tea lady, the academy prospects or, in many ways, even the first team – it always comes from the very top.

At we have laid low but we have not gone away. We have tried to remain active on social media but as individuals we cannot devote all of our time to this campaign – we have families and jobs like everyone else.

We always have and always will require the support of fellow fans. We cannot achieve anything on our own and we need the fanbase to be united in protest to have any hope of achieving our objective of creating a better future of Newcastle United. To that end, we implore fans to join us in the #AshleyEmbargo, i.e. to not spend another penny on Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United and to awaken from apathy and disillusionment to join any protests we or others may organise in the future.

Contrary to popular opinion, there are potential buyers out there and there always have been. The problem has never been a lack of interest in the club but rather Ashley’s reluctance to even speak to interested parties. Ashley’s relationship with Newcastle is parasitic, he is using our club as a billboard and profiting at the club’s expense.

It’s up to us, as fans, to make perfectly clear to him that he is not wanted here and that his other business interests will suffer if he remains.

The last word from Ashley himself, not long ago speaking to Sky News:
Do I regret getting into football? The answer is yes. (…) I wanted to help Newcastle, I wanted to make it better. I do not seem to have had that effect.

Indeed you haven’t Mike. Time to sell up and leave.

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