This is probably the worst season in living memory at Newcastle, in terms of upheaval and ridicule being heaped on the Tyneside club.
Mike Ashley – never lost his passion for Newcastle
After trying to sell the club, failing to do that and then deciding to hold onto the club after all, Mike Ashley now has to prove he is a suitable owner for Newcastle United, and he has some convincing to do with fans, after remaining silent for far too long.
Things are being helped now by Derek Llambias presumably talking regularly to the local Newcastle papers, who we think have been more than fair to the new regime, and that’s a good start by Llambias – but he needs to keep it up.
And Derek met Newcastle fans’ representatives at a Supporters’ Panel meeting at St James’ Park last night, and had this to say about owner Mike Ashley:
“The passion has always been there from Mike,” “He has missed it while he has been away, particularly the games. He brought the kids back against Everton, which was good, and he will continue to bring them.”
“He’s back onside. I don’t think he ever left. At the end of the day he was upset. He felt he couldn’t win (after Keegan’s exit).”
“He’s pumped so much money into something, thought he was going in the right direction. You are thinking you’re getting it right and then all of sudden, out of the blue, you get a curve ball.”
“You think ‘where did that come from?’ Then you have to start again or you look at it again. We’ve been naive and unfortunate in many ways.”
Well, we agree with the naive part, but why it had to last so long remains a mystery, that’s for sure. Not talking to a huge fan base, which is the most passionate in the land was never ever going to work – and they proved it.
However, when Mike Ashley did take over the club in the summer of 2007, he had never run a football club before, and everyone would have thought he would have got experienced people in to run his new business.
But Mike didn’t, and while Chris Mort did a very good job when he was here, and talked often to the fans to explain things going on at the club, once Derek Llambias came in it was all silent on the Newcastle front – and that was one huge mistake, which only now are they trying to correct.
“I think we understand Newcastle United a lot better after what has happened this season,” “Absolutely, we understand it better as a club and as a business. We are catching on quickly.”
“I think Mike misses the involvement and getting involved with the crowd. He loved it. He bought Newcastle to enjoy it, not simply as another business.”
“He’s invested a huge amount of money in it and he doesn’t want to fail.”
And Derek Llambias was also keen to stress that Mike Ashley considers Newcastle United Football Club to be completely separate from the rest of his business dealings:
“This is nothing to do with Sports Direct. It’s his passion and he really wants it to work. It’s difficult when you have people saying ‘Ashley Out’ but we are trying to look forward rather than back,”
“There seems to be a misconception that the money NUFC makes goes to Mike, but we won’t take a penny out. All the money that is generated will go back into improving the football club.”
At the end of the day it’s good that Derek had the meeting, which he had to postpone when Joe Kinnear was taken ill a couple of weeks ago, but now that he has met with the representatives of the supporters, let’s hope that it becomes a regular event.
Communication will help greatly on both sides, and Derek will get to know better the frustrations of Newcastle fans, if he doesn’t know them already.
If any of our readers were at the meeting last night it would be good to hear how they thought it went.