So, Newcastle are considering charging the press to cover the club.
Let that sink in.
The club expects news outlets to give them money to talk to players. After all the quick bans that Newcastle have handed out during the Ashley regime, they really think Sky Sports, The Mirror and others are going to hand over even one pound for "exclusive access" to the club?
I dare say, if the papers report a Newcastle loss, their coverage will be stripped straight away, no refunds given.
I don't know why Mike Ashley hates the press. I mean, no one likes seeing negative things being said about them, and nobody likes having marches organized against them, but he should have a little thicker skin. If he thinks that this is enduring himself to the community, he is mistaken. I think fans will see straight away that this could lead to less coverage of the club (and substantially more "canned" coverage) and not take to it. This is a club that has its ups and downs. It is Newcastle United after all. For press to pay, and then likely have to say that all is well at St. James' Park....well, I don't think anyone would be buying that.
The Chronicle noted in a recent article that since they can't cover the club, a recent visit by players to a children's hospital wasn't covered like it would have been. One can just imagine Wendy Taylor, the club's head of media, charging twenty pounds for the right to ask Shola Ameobi what it means to give back to the community.
The frustrating thing about all of this is that this is a good Newcastle season. The club is knocking at the door for European competition next season. They'll be in a buyer's position when the transfer window opens in January. Personally, I don't feel that this club has reached it's potential yet and with a few additions could really take off.
That's the sort of thing we should be talking about. Column inches across England should be devoted to what Newcastle might do and how they've managed to turn their fortunes. Instead, we're once again discussing a Mike Ashley PR blunder that just reflects poorly on the club.
Ashley can't control what will be said by his club. He can't control what fans will think of decisions. He can't control this any more now than he would if he charged for coverage. He can pretend that the criticism doesn't exist, but it will. He should have known that the day he bought the club. Maybe he wants more credit for the good times and less blame for the bad. But, he brings a lot of the ill will towards him on himself. He's the one who has decided to hide behind a press ban, instead of sitting down with Chronicle staff to defend his decisions. Mike Ashley wants to be the most sympathetic person in the room, only he hasn't done anything worthy of sympathy.
The focus on Newcastle United has been about board politics and operations more than football far more often than it should under Ashley's tenure. Hopefully, this idea is trashed and no media outlet decides to pay to cover the club. Hopefully, Ashley takes ownership for his decisions and seeks to defend them. Hopefully, we can get to talking about football again.