Newcastle fans are conflicted about takeover – in reality they’re pawns in wretched game

On one hand, Newcastle fans are optimistic about their beloved team, the potential glories on the horizon and being rid of Mike Ashley. On the other, their new owners are the leaders of a torturous and repressive regime

Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay nowNewcastle legend Alan Shearer discusses the club takeoveropinionByBrian Reade

  • 17:31, 13 Oct 2021
  • Updated21:16, 13 Oct 2021
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Sky executives must have been high-fiving the mitts off each other when the Newcastle takeover went through.

They had fluked the first game of the post-Ashley era for their prestigious Sunday afternoon slot, turning the Toon’s home game with Spurs from a routine debate about how long can Steve Bruce hang on into football’s hottest ticket.

From lunchtime their cameras will be trained outside St James’ Park on shirtless men in keffiyehs made from their mam’s tea towels and lads in Mohammed bin Salman masks holding up signs in Arabic that spell out “thanks for seeing off the Fat Controller.”

The crass images will be edited to make it look like these characters are in the majority, bolstering the viewpoint that desperate Geordies have sold their soul to a torturous and repressive regime and are revelling in it.

But that is to overlook three key points. Sunday will feel like a liberation day at St. James’ primarily because the fans have been released from the clutches of the detested Mike Ashley and finally have some hope back.

Newcastle fans are conflicted about the club's takeover

NurPhoto/PA Images)

Secondly, the majority of them, despite being euphoric at the possibilities that lie ahead, feel conflicted. A survey for the Athletic website revealed that 83% are “concerned about the human rights record of their new owners” and reporters working on the story tell a similar tale.

One veteran North East journalist told me that virtually everyone he has spoken to feels torn. There is a dizzy elation at the thought of winning trophies but an embarrassment for some, and a shame for others, at the way it will happen. “But how can they change it?” he asked. “They either continue supporting Newcastle or leave and support some other team on moral grounds.”

Which rarely happens as the breakaway clubs formed in protest at the American hedge-fund owners of Manchester United and Liverpool showed. They took some fans with them but the overwhelming majority stayed.

Ged Clarke, author of the acclaimed book 50 Years Of Hurt (written in 2005 to commemorate Newcastle’s half-a-century without a domestic trophy) said “Suddenly we’re all smiling again but every now and then the reality of who’s behind it all creeps in. Yet the fans shouldn’t take any of the flak. They have no say in who owns their club. None. If they did, they wouldn’t have put up with the fat lad from Sports Direct for so long.”

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Which gets to the crucial question about why a barbaric regime has been allowed to snap up a historic English club at the beating heart of a strong community to wash away their blood stains. How has yet another Premier League side fallen into the hands of undesirables?

The answer is blindingly obvious: There is no-one’s money the Premier League won’t take. It was set up by the chasers of a quick buck who sniffed an opportunity to screw the smaller clubs and make a fortune for themselves. Which to a man, they did. There was no morality involved, just hard capitalism. Why should that change? Or rather, who has the power to inject morals into English football? The government? Really?

In April, when Boris Johnson bizarrely claimed his Brexit had seen off the European Super League he vowed to stop clubs being turned “into global brands with no relation to the communities that gave them life.” In the same month it was revealed that Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman had lobbied Johnson to intervene in his stalled bid for Newcastle and it was alleged that the PM agreed.

What a coincidence that on Monday, while taking a holiday in Marbella, Johnson phoned the UK’s biggest deadly weapons customer, whose face will be on the St James’s masks on Sunday, apparently to “review bilateral relations.”

Blame the salivating Geordies all you want, but realise they are the smallest of pawns in the most wretched of games.

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