There’s no question, the rumbles are getting louder and the concern amongst supporters is increasing. Is Ashley about to shaft Rafa Benitez and us in the worst possible move of the largely tortured ten years of his unwanted ownership of our football club? If so, and he were to push Rafa out of the club,it would be, by some distance the most spectacular betrayal in the history of Newcastle United. It would represent a real nadir at St James’ Park.

I realise there are some reading this who don’t believe a word in the media … that’s not without reason … there are also some who believe early July is far too early to start panicking about how the re-building of our squad for a testing season in the Premier League is or isn’t progressing but they are wrong. It is time to become quietly concerned.

Rafa Benitez has abandoned a family holiday to work on transfer business. Even with modern methods of communication, Rafa has decided he needs to be on the ground, working hard to bring the players in we’ll need if we aren’t going to be crucified this coming season. So far, only the modest deal of Christian Atsu has been completed following his loan from Chelsea. Others have left the club. Numbers are down. Other Premier League clubs already in a much stronger position than us are signing players.

Rafa has let it be known he wanted business done before players returned for pre-season training. That return is now imminent and only Atsu has been incoming. Benitez is a professional. We know he will want to be drilling the majority of his squad including new players.

This fanzine has had it on very good authority all is not well. I’m not making that up. I’m not searching for clicks for this fanzine to drive advertising etc. We don’t need to and nor do we have any of that type. We’ve no interest in being sensationalist or of misleading anyone. We are supporters like you and we want to go into this new season in a positive frame of mind. We want to maintain the momentum of last season and the good vibe Rafa has generated at United. But that is draining away by the day.

Charnley isn’t completing the deals he shoulld but he is merely an instrument of Mike Ashley. As ever, all of this goes back to the man who has been found to be a proven liar.

In my opinion, this coming week is massive for the club. Transfers have to be completed. The squad needs to be substantially strengthened and we don’t need to be distracted by wholly speculative stories about additional investment in the club. We need to see the start of real recruitment this week.

Promises have been made to the manager and consequently to the supporters. Should they be broken, I’d expect there to be unrest like never before. If there isn’t, frankly, there’s something wrong with us and we deserve no better than to suck up the shit put in front of us.

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People don’t like the mix of politics and sport. Some people believe sport is a pure pursuit of athleticism, entertainment and a distraction from the trials of real life. I wish that were the case but it isn’t. I’ve seen a supporter this last week be really successful in raising funds to purchase a rainbow flag with the club crest featured within it, that is most commonly associated with Gay Pride and other campaigns for the rights of the LGBT community. Some supporters have responded by funding the flag and it has gone way beyond its target. Happily, it has correctly sought and been given the support of Gallowgate Flags but it does not have the support of every-one!

Some of the comments I’ve read via social media defy belief and are the worst examples of ignorance and bigotry. Its shameful. I wasn’t expecting it to be that bad if I’m honest. They are made by people who have a very fragile sense of their own identity. I’m guessing they are so hostile to this flag because they fear “the bantz”, the piss-taking of other ignoramuses and the mortal terror of some beered up divs in the away end calling them a “puff”. It’s almost like they are still troubled by their journey through puberty into adulthood. As if being called a “fairy” by some West Ham geezer or some such will have them with their heads in their hands, their much prized Geordie machismo in pieces as everyone moves on and leaves them trapped in their own troubled, uncertain, emasculated world.

Do they care that much? Really?

There are others who in more civil ways question why the flag should be in SJP on match-day. What has it got to do with football is the common refrain?

Well, it’s quite simple really. In every walk of life, being gay is becoming less of a big deal than it ever has been at any point in history. It’s not so unusual to have colleagues in our work-places who are out as gay. We have family members who are gay and they occupy all of the professions and services we need to get by in daily life. We have never been as enlightened as we are now, though I do not underestimate the challenges of being LGBT for one moment.

It is also becoming slowly but steadily true of sport but in football it is simply not the case. Football, the biggest and most popular game in the world remains a hostile environment for gay men and women. I’d suggest the response via social media to this flag shows it is as potentially hostile for supporters as it is for players, coaches and managers.

If this flag expresses any kind of positivity to the LGBT community, demonstrates solidarity and welcome, then it is worthwhile in my humble opinion. I have some news for the knuckle-dragging fraternity of social media – there are people in the stands who are gay and lesbian. They have always been there. They are Mags just like you and I. Their love for Newcastle United and the game of football the same as yours and mine.  They are likely staying under the radar, potentially afraid of being abused, insulted and worse.

It was gratifying to see Newcastle United FC respond so positively to the rainbow flag. There is a huge benefit to United in being in a leading position, through its supporters, with something so symbolically progressive as this – just as it is with its anti-racism work. This flag and the supporter’s identification with it, will raise the club’s profile for all of the right reasons. Hell, it may even make great business sense in an age when corporate brands are so careful to align themselves to the right partners (not that is the primary motivation) … there really is no future in bigotry.

I could go on about how intrinsic politics is to football, how people like Mike Ashley being able to run Newcastle United to his whim is painfully political and how it doesn’t have to be that way as the German Bundesliga model demonstrates so amply, how Hillsborough was and is political, how advances in the lot of football supporters (safe-standing and ticket prices etc) can only be achieved by politics.

But those of you who get it, get it and those that don’t, well … I guess, we’ll just have to keep trying with them.

If you like, you can donate to the Rainbow Flag here

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Great to see Gallowgate Flags offering advice to anyone who wants to purchase their own flag. If you’ve missed that, just click here

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So then, this coming week should see some business get started in the transfer market. AFC Bournemouth now have a record buy greater than Newcastle United FC (regardless of what anyone thinks about value for money etc.), we’ve missed out on targets … that has to stop. Business has to be completed. Promises have to be kept because the alternative is too grim to contemplate. The clock is ticking.

Keep On, Keepin’ On …

 

MICHAEL MARTIN – Follow Michael on@tfMichael1892