To no-one’s great surprise, the clamour for tickets for the first game of the season v Forest at SJP has been intense. I’m really pleased for those Mags that got their hands on tickets but I can’t help feel gutted for other supporters who haven’t managed to do so themselves. It was always going to be a case of winners and losers when demand is massively out-stripping supply. Discussions about extending SJP or even relocating are going to continue.

For me, 65K is a minimum and 70K feels about right.

For United, it’s a nice problem to have and I can’t help but think there are some garlanded clubs out there (Man City for example) who might be looking at the demand at SJP in envy. You might say the same about Arsenal as well. The cork seems to be out the bottle as far as how supporters are re-engaging with their club in the post-Ashley era and I think that’s wonderful.

What I think the club could do better is to explain what their strategy is for ticket sales and also work with Newcastle United Supporters Trust to refine that so whilst there are going to be disappointed supporters whichever way this cake is cut, we might understand that what has been done is fair and operates to some well-considered method.

I come from the place where I want those Mags who’ve done the hard miles supporting United to get first dibs on tickets, both home and away. I think the model we have for away tickets is fine, imperfect I accept but broadly it makes sense. I’m struggling to make sense of how the sale of 1,000 season tickets followed a substantial rationale and the sale to members for Forest likewise.

I think we’ll all go mental if tickets start appearing on re-sale sites pulling the eyes out of supporters or wanker-touts outside SJP becomes a regular thing.

Similarly, we had news that United are actively engaged in the installation of rail seats or safe-standing at SJP. First up it looks like that will be in the section for visiting supporters which makes sense because that is where the main risk is for fans falling over seats as most supporters travelling away, stand most of the game.

United have made a reference to safe-standing or rail seats being installed for home supporters next year (2023). I have seen some speculation as to where there that might be and some discussion of supporters regards the merits etc. NUST have the results of a poll of members which perhaps offers the basis for some guidance but more needs to be done with consultation.

I’m a middle-aged fan these days but whilst I’d love to see an entire Gallowgate End of Safe-standing in the hope that would further improve the atmosphere and build on Wor Flags spectacles etc, I get that it’s not for me to get what I want or indulge my preferences.

I also understand that no matter what the club does there will be someone who takes issue with it. That’s understandable and it happens as a result of change in the real world as well as the B&W planet we inhabit.

That’s why the club has to engage fully with the Newcastle United Supporters Trust. That engagement isn’t to tick a box or make anyone at NUST feel like a big-shot. It is to help the club implement schemes for ticket sales and safe-standing which work the best they possibly can for Newcastle United and the supporters who love it, support it and go to matches.

NUST is the biggest members based supporters association in the country. It has an elected board which is representative and accountable to its membership. It has a copper bottomed constitution, a proper rule book and way of conducting itself. It is the real deal.

If there is a better representative group of supporters, I’m interested in hearing who they are and how supporters control what they do and how they are accountable to us.

I will add that I also believe the club should work very closely with the NUDSA (Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Assoc) and United With Pride who obviously have very special interests in progressing.

Obviously, Wor Flags has a great relationship with United in the organisation of choreography and long may that continue. We can say the same about the Foodbank too.

We are all excited about what the club can achieve under its new ownership but how the club operates and behaves is critical to the creation of a new club. How United treats fans with ticket-sales and safe-standing is a huge test of how that shapes the Newcastle United we want to see flourish in future. A club we feel a part of rather than just customers (sic).

It has been wonderful to see the way the club has developed since last October and priorities have to be made. It is only right player recruitment, the appointment of one of the most coveted Directors of Football in Dan Ashworth have been the first tasks ticked off by the new people running the club.

An upgrade to the training ground, staff terms and conditions and a refit of SJP are all to be hugely welcomed. I’m looking forward to seeing how the concourses have been changed from the drab grey concrete they have been since the ground was extended from the mid-90s onwards. It has been great to see Alan Shearer’s statue moved onto SJP land adjacent to SBR and the return of Shearer’s Bar. It gave me a great feeling to read that Eddie Howe has formed a good relationship with Kevin Keegan and that his relationship with his club and ours is being repaired.

There is still lots to do though and in many regards this is still Ashley’s club as dealings with the club’s Box Office (no disrespect to the staff who works there) and with United’s website which at times I think is held up with used chewing gum, string and a bull-dog clip.

I also wonder who is running the club on a day to day basis. I know we have a board of directors but I can’t Yasir, Mehrdad, Amanda, Jamie or Majour clocking in every day on Barrack Road and frankly they don’t need to.

But we do need a hands-on Chief Executive with a capable corporate structure to not only manage the club on a day to day basis as well as catapult United into the stratosphere with commercial arrangements that will underpin our strategy on the park.

No-one expects the club’s directors to be available at the whim of supporters but we do need some decent actors at United making the club tick and in no way is that more vital for us in the here and now of ticketing and a much awaited development for safe-standing.

Much has been done, I hope I’m not being churlish here but there’s a lot more that needs to happen for Newcastle United to be transformed into the best club it possibly can be – off the park.

The club has engaged with NUST through meetings with Staveley and Mehrdad but it should have leadership through the week running the club to build on that and make it a routine part of the club’s business. NUST need someone to engage with.


The consensus is our recruitment is going well. I agree with that and Pope, Targett and Botman are good signings and improve us. We all know we need another striker and right-winger. We have lost out to Ekitike who has gone to PSG. I’m disappointed with that but not bitter. Why wouldn’t the lad go there over us? He might struggle to make it onto the pitch in front of Neymar, Mbappe and Messi but perhaps he’s thinking longer term. Good luck to him.

It does say something about the calibre of player we are targeting and it is a case of win some, lose some as we’ve seen with Botman and United pipping the mighty AC Milan for the Dutchman’s signature.

By serious accounts (as opposed to the wannabe ITK goons on social media) we have changed targets now and we read every day of a dizzying array of players I’m told are wonderful but who I have little knowledge of.

But for the first time since KK was here (who seldom made a bad signing) I’m confident in the people who are assessing transfer targets and negotiating for us. I don’t see a sudden shout out for the skills (ahem) of Lee Charnley, Justin Barnes and Mike Ashley offering staff discount on Lonsdale trainers at Sports Direct with first dibs on the paddling pool.

We have had various indications from the end of last season and through the summer that we are operating within a budget and will be compliant with Financial Fair Play. We all understand that and I think we all broadly appreciate the plan to sign players for tomorrow rather than those looking for one last pay-day with their achievements behind them.

That said, I don’t think it is possible for United not to spend serious money this summer on the striker and right-winger we’ll need to seriously kick on next season.

Additionally, I’m pretty sure the likes of Trippier, Bruno and the newly arrived Botman are watching who is coming and going with interest because they are players who could be playing in the Champions League and competing for trophies now. I doubt they will think of 10th as great progress next season. These are seriously good players and deservedly want to be in the hunt for honours. Our de-facto transfer committee has to follow through on the commitments made to them to get them here as well as build for next season.

My sense is they and we will be happy with the business the club does – but I think we’ll need to spend big chunks of money to make it happen.

I’m not altogether convinced we are out of the market for another midfielder.

At the other end of our recruitment we are seeing players leave United, albeit on loan and I suspect with their wages subsidised by us. That is an inevitable temporary cost because the players leaving aren’t up to the Premier League as their destinations demonstrate.

Woodman (Preston), Hayden (Norwich) Clark (Sheffield United) and Hendrick (Reading) have all exited stage left. I don’t they will be the last with Gayle, Ritchie, Manquillo, Murphy to go. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Almiron leave too and there is an uncertainty about Dubravka as I think he rightly believes he should be playing first team football and won’t want to understudy Pope. Darlow may stay at United by default … or something completely different might happen.

There was talk linking ASM to Chelsea, Villa and Spurs but I suspect (with no evidence whatsoever) those stories might be circulated by the Frenchman’s agent out for a wage increase.

It is all a bit exhausting isn’t it? But in a very good way. No wonder those tickets are flying out.

Keep On, Keepin’ On …

 Michael Martin, @TFMick1892