It’s been a miserable week. The confirmation came on Monday that Rafael Benítez would leave the club after just over 3 years at Newcastle United has sparked upset and anger across the fan base. Although feelings are pretty similar across the board, once again the fan base is becoming fragmented and divided.
Lots of us, understandably, are asking the question “Do I stay or do I go?” and although many of us feel that stopping buying tickets and merchandise is the only way to move forward and encourage the Owner to sell, it is NEVER that straight forward for anyone for a few reasons.
- “I take my kids and they don’t understand”
This is a perfectly valid reason. We have to remember that kids up to the age of 18 are unlikely to remember anything other that mid-table mediocrity, relegation battles and Mike Ashley’s regime. They enjoy going regardless so why should they be punished because of it? My brother is currently considering taking up tickets so he can take his kids. It’s not their fault what’s happened over the last 12 years.
- “I’ve got loyalty points I’m going to lose”
This is a huge retaining strategy and unfortunately the club know it. If you have more than 50 points you can go to pretty much any away game you want. Ashley won’t be here forever and there is a chance he may be gone this year. Imagine if you gave up your ticket losing all your points and he leaves? A lifetime of supporting the club and point building gone. NUST are hoping to help assist supporters on this issue but it doesn’t mean the club will necessarily budge on the issue so it’s understandable some fans won’t want to take the risk.
- “I’m on a 10 year price freeze”
Approximately 20,000 (around 50%) of season ticket holders are 8 years into 13 year price freeze. They’re paying almost 25% less by now than others in their area so why give this up when it’s still possible the ownership could change soon? My understanding is that these fans already will have paid 5 months into this Direct Debit scheme and wouldn’t be entitled to a refund under the current terms and conditions. Would you decide not to renew if you’d already paid for half your ticket?
- “What am I going to do on a Saturday? It’s the only thing I look forward to?”
There is a lot to be said for this. When the club is such a huge part of people’s lives that they’re prepared to spend £15 a week per ticket it’s a huge gap to fill. It’s not just the football though. It’s meeting up with the lads, having a few pints before and after. Or it may be a family thing. For me from the age of around 17 it was the only time I knew I would spend time with my Dad and although we swore we’d replace it with something when we gave up our tickets in Summer 2015 we never managed it.
- “I’ve always gone in good and bad. Why should I stop going now?”
I can totally see this argument too. Our away support defiantly sang “we’ll support you evermore” last season for a reason. Your relationship with the club is a personal thing. As our first home game is a Sunday there is a very strong chance I’ll be working anyway but I know what I’m like. I currently want very little to do with the club but saying that when the season starts I may feel totally different and still want to watch, follow results or even go.
There is also a huge reason not to go. 12 years of lack of investment, ambition and success. Two relegations in the last 12 years only finishing in the top 10 of the Premier League twice. The disrespect for the likes of Keegan, Shearer and for Jonas after he’d recovered from cancer was disgraceful. The ongoing lack of realising potential through our commercial revenue meaning a lack of investment across the board. Rafa was more than just a manager. He was a great man who threw himself into the community and embraced the culture of the city and understood the club’s meaning across the city. For many fans this is understandably the final straw.
The point I’m trying to make is it’s far too simple for us as a fan base to attack each other’s stances on this issue. A seat bought at St James’ isn’t an endorsement of the current regime, that said I personally hope for the first time ever that our attendance is vastly reduced next season. But I support the right for people to make their own decision on it. Please don’t attack fellow fans for whatever decision they decide to make.