A football club should not be a business, but a way of life, an escape for thousands of fans around the world. Unfortunately, this view is becoming evermore distant in the modern game. Some clubs have grown and thrived off being a business across the world’s four corners; Real Madrid’s ‘Galacticos’ are icons in all seven continents, while Manchester City’s brand soars higher and higher. This has never been the case for Newcastle United though, whose roots have never been business, but a city living and breathing football. That was until Mike Ashley arrived.
Since 2007, Newcastle United have suffered from a plague by the name of Mike Ashley. He has not only held back on significant investment into the club since his arrival; he has also used the club to market his own company around the world. St. James’ Park has been teeming with Sports Direct banners for years, even taking the company’s name in its place. Now, though, even in what could be his final days in charge of the club, he seems intent to squeezing every drop possible out of the fan-base.
Mike Ashley is Still Sucking Fans Dry
Season Ticket Rises Bucking the Trend in a Bad Way
This next season could be Ashley’s 13th in charge of the Tyneside club. Somehow, he keeps finding a reason to hike the prices of watching the side each home game. After a tenth place season in 2017/18, the season ticket price rose by 20%, to the chagrin of many a Geordie. Now, despite all this talk about an impending takeover, the price has risen by another 5%, after a much less successful 2018/19 season.
The news of this rise comes amid manifold other Premier League sides freezing their own season ticket prizes. Liverpool haven’t raised theirs in four years, despite reaching two Champions League finals and nearly winning a Premier League title. Manchester United’s season ticket price has not risen in eight years. On the other hand, Newcastle’s season ticket price has gone up for a third consecutive year.
Despite all these supposed attempts to sell the club, there remains something fishy about the decision to increase season ticket prices. All this does is make it more believable that a takeover is no closer than the days of Peter Kenyon and Amanda Staveley. If fans believe a new owner is around the corner, they may be more inclined to commit to another year.
The Most Expensive Kit in the League
The news arrived a few days ago of Newcastle United’s new home kit for the 2019/20 season. It is supposedly paying homage to the kit worn by the 1969 Fairs Cup winner. However, one glaring observation that many fans have pointed out is the distinct lacking similarity between the two kits. The only thing they have in common is the black and white trim around the collar. The side’s famous stripes don’t feature as prominently as many fans are used to.
It was then discovered that this kit is the most expensive in the Premier League; a replica shirt for £65, while a more ‘authentic’ version will set fans back an extra £30. Mike Ashley is using this nostalgia of the Fairs Cup winners to boost the sales which line his pockets. It seems his lust for money knows no bounds.
When all is said and done, the most baffling request Mike Ashley could make now is more money; with so much uncertainty around the club, and much yet to be decided. By the time these new Newcastle kits are available, Rafael Benítez may have left, fans could have no clue who will be the owner, and (more probable still) there will be no new signings through the door.
With so much yet to be disclosed to fans, it is dumbfounding that anyone would want to part with their cash. You would be forgiven for being even slightly willing to renew it if Newcastle were making a visible effort to keep hold of Rafa Benítez. Sadly, though, that is not the case. Instead, we see Mike Ashley treating the club the same he has throughout his whole tenure; Newcastle is not a football club, but a business to him.