This is the opinion of the author alone. It does not represent the community of people who put the fanzine together. They may or may not agree in full or in part or completely disagree. It is the author’s opinion alone. 

On the day Rafa Benitez was presented to the media as the new Everton manager, Newcastle United issued a statement calling for the details within the arbitration between the club and the Premier League to be made public. It has quoted a public interest dimension to the arbitration and compared what is happening with the recent furore regards the European Super League.

If you haven’t read the full statement – here it is for your pleasure. Click here

There are some who are presenting this as a call to arms. Indeed it drew the support of the counsel acting for Ashley via Newcastle United within the arbitration and St James’ Holdings in the competition litigation on social media. Join the dots if you will (pfft).

Ashley is going to have a problem garnering support for any public campaign to put pressure on the PL to agree to make the arbitration public. That is because the public by and large have discovered that he is an entirely untrustworthy person to fall behind in any way shape or form.

The man was found to have lied to supporters many years ago in the Kevin Keegan tribunal and he has made zero attempt to right that wrong in the time since.

I won’t list the crimes Ashley has brought against Newcastle United here because you all know them any way but even where we are right now, blinking into the sunlight of a pandemic recovery, Newcastle United has treated its supporters to:

  • Being ignored when asking about season ticket direct debits
  • No information when it will publish its latest accounts
  • Laughably not even bothering to give any information about its new merchandise deal
  • Having zero dialogue with the supporters’ elected body, Newcastle United Supporters Trust
  • Providing no detail regards plans for the new season

And I could go on.

Bizarrely, Ashley has some cheerleaders amongst the club’s support now who exhort supporters to do what they have done previously without a word of thanks or recognition.

Of the statement itself, it is unsigned, which is standard for the usual vague missives from the Barrack Road ghost-ship but it would be foolish not to believe this wasn’t co-ordinated with those representing Ashley’s interests in various court rooms.

And yet, it is only right and proper that the arbitration should be in front of public scrutiny. That isn’t to provide a desperate local media with endless titbits to bend out of shape and present to us for clicks but because the maxim, sunlight is the best disinfectant, remains as ever true.

So, yes, despite not advising anyone to organise themselves to embark upon campaigns against the Premier League and petition politicians et al to demand the Premier League agrees to the arbitration to proceed in public, it unquestionably should be. But that’s just my opinion.

What does it mean? Well, you can construct you opinion in any way you want and as people have been doing for these last 15 exhausting months. Hunches, bunions, copper-bands for rheumatism and things that go bump in the night have been used to base strong opinions on over the last year and a bit so do as you choose.

You can say, this is proof positive the PL has something to hide if it fails to agree to the process being made public. That may be the objective.

Or you can conclude Ashley’s side has grown increasingly desperate and this is a sign of them flailing about as an inevitable negative judgement is coming their way.

Or you might think it is a device to put pressure on the PL to settle outside of all of this and invite the Staveley-led consortium to go through the Owners & Directors Test with an assurance it will proceed without previous obstacles.

Or it might mean nothing of the sort and is an entirely pointless exercise of grandstanding to distract from the appalling way Newcastle United is operating and going into the new season horribly unprepared and under-resourced.

The most considered and intelligent sentiment I’ve heard expressed since this latest missive from Ashley’s zombie club is … who knows what the f*ck is going on, but I don’t trust that bastard. Quite.

Lots of questions remain unanswered:

  • Are the previous parties still interested? I think we need to hear that directly from the parties themselves rather than fringe actors and journalists who may be over-playing their hands

 

  • The bid for Newcastle United was withdrawn last year, almost 12 months ago. Nothing has changed since then.

 

  • Is the previous bid still on the table? Will it need to be renegotiated? How long will that take?

Grandstanding in this fashion may get people excited and the media racing for clicks. But even were the PL to agree to it having the full glare of attention (and I don’t doubt that would be embarrassing in some way for the PL for reasons of beIN’s role etc) it does not alter the consideration the panel will undertake. The evidence remains unchanged. The judgement will be what the judgement will be whether evidence is submitted in public or not.

Should it be public, yes but that will only be for reasons of public interest. It won’t change the outcome.

Personally, I won’t be getting a protest banner out the loft and marching down the road to support anything Ashley might want me and others to do. That isn’t going to happen.

The bottom line in this is Mike Ashley is looking after Mike Ashley. That is completely separate to Newcastle United and I won’t be duped into doing his bidding.

Ashley Out!

MICHAE MARTIN