The Wolves match boycott organized by The Magpie Group scheduled for this Sunday, December 9th has been cancelled.
The group released a statement this morning that said the following:
In light of recent developments concerning a potential takeover of the club in the very near future, members of The Magpie Group have taken the opportunity to re-evaluate its proposed boycott of Newcastle United’s home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers this Sunday.
The statement goes into detail onto why the boycott was cancelled, stating that the goal of the boycott was to force Ashley to sell, and a boycott may prevent a deal for the club from getting done.
This decision has not been taken lightly and was made in response to Mike Ashley’s appearance on Sky News on Monday night and further revelations in the media since. Although we continue to have very deep reservations about Mike Ashley’s resolve to sell Newcastle United Football Club, we understand that any protest activity which could have a negative implication on Sunday’s result could jeopardise the potential sale of the Club.
The group goes on to mention that the boycott has been rescheduled for a February home match against Huddersfield, and that all protest plans have been suspended until after the January Window to allow Mike Ashley to get a deal done.
This statement comes a day after True Faith, one of the most popular Newcastle Fanzines, came out and officially stated that they were not supporting the boycott. True Faith claimed in their statement that they were not affiliated with The Magpie Group, and that their opinions were their own.
It has to be said however, that True Faith is very much tied to The Magpie Group. Not only were the supporter groups a part of The Magpie Group such as Wor Hyem 1892 and Wor flags started by members of True Faith, but one of True Faith’s most popular writers Michael Martin has been very outspoken in support of The Magpie Group.
Martin even said when it comes to the boycott
I don’t care if you have a dog called Shearer, two sons named Tino and Milburn and a tattoo of the Robledo brothers on each arse cheek, if you take your seat inside St.James Park on the 9th of December 2018 you are not a supporter of Newcastle United, you’re a supporter of Mike Ashley.
... and that was just the opening paragraph. Martin also infamously eluded that if you did not boycott “You won’t be black and white, you’ll be red and blue.” Although Martin is just a writer for True Faith, his words and ideas were associated with the group as he will always be tied to the magazine.
The decision to cancel the boycott also came just a couple of days after The Magpie Group released a thread on Twitter of alternative places to watch the match.
#1 in a series this coming week. Places you may like to #BoycottWolves ? @thehancocknewcastle (Haymarket) have 200+ capacity, various sized screens, including larger one outdoors. Matchday incentives available too— The Magpie Group (@TheMagpieGroup_) December 3, 2018
#BoycottWolves pt 3 - @JunctionNewcastle have 12 screens of various sizes and a capacity of around 650 ready to welcome you on Dec 9th. Incentives available including their @GKSeasonTicket loyalty program pic.twitter.com/ESoDT3DmzW— The Magpie Group (@TheMagpieGroup_) December 4, 2018
Additionally the Magpie Group were very public in their doubt of the Mike Ashley rumors to sell, which made the decision to cancel the boycott a slight shock.
The Magpie Group are encouraged to hear of any genuine news of Mike Ashley relinquishing control of our club. Like much of our fan base, we remain sceptical about the manner this news story has broken and await clarity from the club and our friends at NUST. 1 of 2 pic.twitter.com/D83mFOCrq0— The Magpie Group (@TheMagpieGroup_) December 4, 2018
We look forward to the day we might offer our help and support to any new owner of Newcastle United. Until we hear something more concrete, it is very much 'business as usual' - the Wolves boycott goes ahead as planned.— The Magpie Group (@TheMagpieGroup_) December 4, 2018
2 of 2
There has been a lot of claims that the boycott was cancelled due to lack of public support. Which is a fair claim considering that the ever so popular “If Rafa Goes, We Go” Twitter account ran a poll on whether or not the boycott should continue that saw more people than not, claim they would not participate in the boycott.
Furthermore, there was doubt even before this week was over whether the boycott would be successful after a less than impressive 11 minute walk-in that featured maybe 1,000 of the 51,000 in attendance. Even before the walk-in, the fan base was noticeably split on whether or not the boycott was a good idea. The boycott has had 50/50 support since its announcement, and regardless of the form of the club it would be hard to believe it would have garnered a ton of participation in the first place.
To The Magpie Group’s credit, they claim that the introduction of the boycott was to provide fans with the option to boycott if they wanted to do so. They never bullied fans into believing that they had to boycott, they just were the vehicle of an organized effort to boycott the match. It was something that was debated heavily at their town hall meetings, as well as meetings in private, and they knew it was something that the entire fan base was 50/50 on, but like previously stated, they wanted to give fans who wanted to boycott an opportunity to do so. This claim was explained in our sit down interview with a member of the Wor Flags group, who explained that this boycott was meant to be an option for fans and there was no pressure to participate.
Additionally The Magpie Group has been very vocal on Twitter, making sure that people understood that protesting is an option, and that fans should show their support for the club in any way that they could.
Unfortunately for them, rhetoric from people like Michael Martin, and actions of their loosely controlled London wing of The Magpie Group, have made it easy for accounts like Toon Polls, to create a narrative that The Magpie Group are forcing protests and boycotts on fans.
There was genuine support for the move to cancel the boycott, noticeably from respected writer Chris Holt who makes the claim that this was a good decision to cancel given how split the fan base was on the boycott.
You can disagree with the difficult decision @themagpiegroup_ made without disparaging it.— Chris Holt (@bigchrisholt) December 6, 2018
The reality is a majority have said they think it shouldn't go ahead and TMG must represent as many fans as possible in order to unite opposition to Ashley.https://t.co/oiXXKNAzeh
Michael Martin also voiced his support for the decision, although he wanted to know exactly who was involved in the decision making process.
I understand @TheMagpieGroup_ voted hugely in favour of postponing the boycott 15:3 in favour of stopping Sunday's action. 100% right decision. It would be useful to understand who voted in which way but it does demonstrate the majority view. Good statement too #NUFC— Michael Martin (@tfMichael1892) December 6, 2018
Mark Douglas of The Chronicle genuinely believed the decision was the right call as well , and dissected the next steps for The Magpie Group as they begin to plan for the future.
Naturally, the decision was met with criticism from heavy supporters of The Magpie Group, as the group was already in hot water with fans after canceling a protest last minute earlier this month. There were also fans who supported the notion of canceling the boycott earlier because they did not support it in the first place, or they, like The Magpie Group, genuinely believe it will affect the sale of the club.
Whether the club gets sold or not, you would hope that The Magpie Group continues with its mission of holding whoever the owner of Newcastle is accountable for their actions, and ensuring that the owner does what is best for the club.