EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was submitted to us by a fan who goes by Southern Magpie (Twitter —> @magpie_southern). We have agreed to publish the piece through our platform and appreciate the opportunity to share this with you. — Bryan Nelson, Site Manager.
I’m wondering where we go from here… The game is a mess.
“I feel physically sick. I’m rapidly falling out of love with football. I just wonder what’s the point anymore.” Words uttered by John Coleman, the Accrington Stanley manager after a contentious decision went against his team in a match with Derby. His words are regularly used as a meme now on social media sites when someone loses a game, usually. But this feels different. Bigger, a sliding doors moment, if you will. The words have been ringing through my head since the PCP Capital Partners Consortium pulled out of the deal to buy Newcastle.
Before rival fans pile on this, I know I’ll probably get abuse – there are worse clubs than us, right? Clubs in more trouble. We are in a privileged position scream opposition fans. They are right, there are clubs worse off than us. But there always will be. Context is key.
13 years of neglect. 13 years of painful fighting both in the fanbase and outside. 13 years of lies, even self-proclaimed by the club at times (in court). Mike Ashley finally wants to sell. The COVID-19 situation has made him rethink us being attached to his tacky sportswear shop. He’s now finally united with the fans in that both parties want him to leave. It’s a shame that came after 2 relegations, countless relegation battles, countless useless managers and countless PR disasters later.
In comes Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and the Rueben Brothers. There’s scepticism at first, especially after 6-7 takeover battles since 2010 but come April the 9th, documents on Companies House appear to suggest this is the real deal. Fans can’t believe their luck, in what is considered unprecedented times. A global pandemic. #Cans brings light to the darkness of a world in chaos. Minds are taken from the pandemic and onto the takeover. This is it, we are one signature away from getting new owners. Wealthy, too – game changing for Newcastle United.
In the coming days after April the 9th, scepticism from certain journalists remains. Having said that, other journalists get wind of this consortiums plans for Newcastle United – Brand new communication which sounds great after our club barely says anything but “no comment”. Investing in the training ground, which has been painfully neglected by our current owner. But bigger than all of that, a commitment to invest in the area of Newcastle – an area that has been badly mismanaged by multiple governments for decades – one that has been increasingly left behind. Money pumped into the area would bring jobs to the region. Suddenly the future looks bright.
Suddenly, it doesn’t seem this club will treat fans like they don’t exist for much longer. It seems we’ll wave goodbye to our stadium being named after the owners sportshop without consultation. It seems we’ll be rid of treating club legends like they are no-one. It feels a lot like we will be getting rid of treating players with cancer with utter contempt.
Alas, weeks roll into months, journalists placing doubts start to get louder. Opposition to the deal gets louder. Newcastle fans asked to become experts in geopolitics, in TV piracy, in human rights. An impossible position for fans who just want to wrestle their club back from the depths of no hope. 10 weeks roll past, 11 weeks, 12… 13… 14… 15… 16… Boom. It’s over in the space of 2 hours. Claims and counter claims surface, but mostly, a fanbase is incredibly broken. Emotional. Heartbroken. It’s hard to understand for outsiders, but the City feels this in it’s bones. Suddenly, everything feels broken. Like there’s a huge split in the middle of the Tyne Bridge, splitting it in two. It’s dramatic to some, but to others, it’s how it feels.
And so I go back to John Coleman’s interview. “I feel physically sick. I’m rapidly falling out of love with football. I just wonder what’s the point anymore.” Words ringing through my head all night – struggling to sleep, trying to unmuddle the mess in my head. I ask the question, how did football get to this point?
States own football clubs. Man City, owned by a state; PSG, owned by a state. Football long sold out on it’s moral obligations. Newcastle isn’t allowed to be owned by a state. Then you’ve got a huge amount of power wielded by the top clubs. Liverpool and Spurs have been reported as posing strong opposition to the deal, which should’ve been a confidential process between the Premier League, buyer and seller. Newcastle aren’t allowed to be a big club. The Premier League’s partners also getting involved in the strong opposition.
All those people above, plus national journalists goading Newcastle fans will move on tomorrow. They probably won’t think about Newcastle again. There will be the tweets saying “I hope Newcastle get rid of Mike Ashley” and that will be that. People will “feel” for us. But they won’t mention it again. Only one set of people will have to pick up the pieces to the club they love – the fans.
Do you know what hurts more than anything? Nobody in the governing body cares about us. They need us when they are in trouble and need us to buy into the “new football”. They portray fans are the life and soul of football, but it’s clear it’s only when that suits their agenda. There was no room at the table for Newcastle fans, despite empty claims from the Premier League when responding to fans offering support to the consortium that their “opinion is noted”. How cold. Not even anymore than a basic acknowledgement for the NUST. Utter contempt by the Premier League.
After the last 960 words, it leaves me wondering where my place is in football anymore. I am rapidly falling out of love with a sport that used to be all about the fans, but is now all about money and greed for the governing bodies. Clubs don’t matter as long as the Premier League get what they want. You wonder how a Sovereign Wealth Fund can be turned down, and yet owners such as the latest Wigan one’s, Bury’s, Bolton’s and yes Mike Ashley can be waved through unchallenged. It seems if you have no money, come on in and join the table. If you do have money – thanks but no thanks.
“I just wonder what’s the point anymore.” Especially when your club isn’t allowed to progress past no hope and yearly relegation battles. A club once challenging for Europe is being held back, and not even by an owner anymore. It’s by the governing bodies. The Premier League are showing they clearly don’t care about us fans – we only matter when they need something. Sickening.
Finally, my loyalty to football as a whole is wavering. Where do you turn when even the governing bodies don’t care about you? When you matter not to the figure heads at the top? It’s time for change at the top, time for fan representation, but those at the top will resist, fearing for their power. Do I walk away from football altogether to take a moral stance of my own? Maybe it’s a reaction to emotions that are still raw. Only time will tell.