The Magpie Group has released details of a planned demonstration outside the Sports Direct Store on Northumberland St at 11am this Saturday. The Group wish it to be known that the emphasis is very much on this being a Peaceful protest which respects those who wish to go about their normal Saturday morning shopping as well as those who simply work inside the store. So the message is get yourself along, bring your mates; make your presence felt with your feet and your voice. And remember, WE ARE UNITED.
Dear Mr. Ashley,
You hold the hopes, expectations and fate of all Newcastle United fans in your hands. It has been over ten years
of broken promises, lies and deceit. Two relegations, the embarrassment of Joe Kinnear and everything before,
after and in between. Surely now - enough is enough?
Over the last six months a number of meetings and discussions have taken place between many Newcastle fan
groups and organisations. We now all come together under one banner, The Magpie Group, and we are united in
our common desire for Newcastle United to be a club to be proud of at the heart of our local community.
In May 2015 you said "from this day forward we will be making our own luck." These empty words have not been
backed up with actions and relegation, once again, soon followed. It is clear now that it is in the best interests of
both you and the future of Newcastle United that the club is sold.
We cannot speculate on the terms of takeover talks but we know from credible sources that talks have taken
place and bids have been made. We cannot comment on the factors which must be taken into account in order to
value the club but a number of things are now clear.
The new TV deal has been agreed and Newcastle United is in need of a major rebuilding project, from urgently
required investment in the first team playing squad, to the need for significant investment to bring the club's
training facilities and academy up to an acceptable standard following over ten years of neglect on your watch.
If one word could sum up Newcastle United it is potential. A potential you have no interest in. We now have a
world class manager in Rafa Benitez who has united the fans for the first time in a long time, but this alone is not
enough to counteract chronic neglect and under-investment under your ownership.
We need an owner that is prepared to back Rafa Benitez, not only by investing properly in the playing squad but
by backing him to deliver the widespread change needed throughout the club from training ground to academy.
An owner who is not prepared to just release a manager invested in the club, city and community, when the
If you cannot attract a buyer that meets your valuation then you must understand that this is because of the
significant amount of investment now required to restore our football club to what it should be.
We have seen the reaction to the #IfRafaGoesWeGo movement and this has acted as a catalyst to bring the
wider fan base together. We are all united in that we will do anything we can, both as groups and together as a
fan base, to drive through a change in ownership.
Over to you, Mike. You have already admitted you are not the man to take the club forward. It is time to sell up
You are only one man. We are a city.
We are United.
The Magpie Group
NUFC Fans United is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the other fans' groups and supporters' organisations under the umbrella of The Magpie Group. The Magpie Group was formed in July 2018 by a network of Newcastle United supporters’ groups uniting for the benefit of Newcastle United and their local community. The name pays homage to the protest group in the 1980s and 90s which eventually paved the way to one of the most glorious eras in Newcastle United’s proud history... READ MORE
As a group, we are deeply concerned with current events at NUFC. There are reports that the Manager is having his summer budget withheld as he has not committed to sign a contract extension.
The Fans Forum fully supports Rafael Benitez in his right not to sign a new deal until he’s seen sufficient evidence to support his and the Fans’ ambition.
We also feel that the club’s board need to support him now more than ever to show him that they are ambitious and are willing to be a stable top ten club pushing for European qualification and for domestic Cup success.
We’ve seen Season Ticket prices rise significantly, England’s most expensive replica shirts and little evident appetite to attempt to compete in the transfer market whilst clubs around and below us significantly invest.
We sincerely hope the Manager gets the assurances he seeks and signs a long-term deal.
Most parents with children at university have experienced it. They drop off their child for Freshers Week happy in the knowledge that the accommodation that the University provide within their halls is of the highest quality. The properties are modern, clean, fresh; the bathrooms and kitchen facilities well proportioned and finished to a high quality. The mixed areas are kitted out with plasma screens, expresso machines, computer gaming bays, free internet, wifi and concierge and security service that gives parents a feeling of caring reassurance and just as importantly, safety.
The first year passes like a dream and as the summer break closes in, you leave it to your child to arrange their accommodation for the next year. Most want the freedom of living together with their friends; Matt from Poole, Julia from Derby, Isaac from Chelmsford and Karen from Kingston on Thames whose father is a merchant banker and mother is big in publishing. You met them all when you first dropped your own 18 year old off. They all looked clean cut, polite, well mannered and the parents were similar although a little nervous and uncertain; very much like yourself. You’re confident that wherever they choose to live together will be of a high standard!
Summer comes and goes; you’ve barely seen your now more confident and assured son or daughter. They haven’t really needed you as they’ve slept through most of the summer mornings and been out most summer nights. They’ve surfaced occasionally for food and to ask to borrow a tenner that turns into a twenty when you have nothing smaller. You never see it again btw.
Next thing you know they’re packing up heading down the A1 in a car stacked with sports bags, pillows and Asda bags full of provisions that mother feels are essential if their little darling is to see through the first few weeks before student finance sort out their act!
“It’s just down there dad, past the second hand furniture shop, the taxi office and the all night off licence; it’s next to the one with the security gate attached to the external frame of the front door”
Unlike the neighbours’, the property looks ok from the outside but doesn’t stand up to inspection once you get inside. It’s shabby. Its lick of paint has been put on slapdash; by a jobbing builder, whose main talent is roofing or laying pavements not painting and decorating.
It is advertised as fully furnished yet the fixtures and fittings are definitely 1980’s, the wiring suspect, the carpets threadbare, the bathroom and kitchen require modernizing and while modern features from the 1990’s such as a microwave and washer drier are installed, they are definitely not of the most modern range that tenants have become accustomed to as standard.
There are no telephony or internet connection facilities. There is however a sticker on the grubby fridge door advertising a local store ran by a friend of the landlord, whose nephew can arrange internet connectivity by hanging off the back of the neighbours hi-speed connection via a series of cables, copper wire and a couple of cocktail sticks stuck in the back of special black box that he gets from a contact in Ghuangdhu.
What is obvious is that the absentee landlord is doing the bare minimum to justify the rent he is charging. He doesn’t live in the house therefore he has no real interest in anyone’s opinion of its condition. He knows that with demand outstripping supply he will eventually find someone who will sign up to his terms and conditions of tenure.
But you learn that all is not lost. The Absentee Landlord has been in discussion with a Housing Association with a track record in regional development and presented him with a plan that will not only completely refurbish his property buy also help regenerate the whole area as most of the other property owners have agreed that if the absentee landlord commits to the remedial work necessary to bring his property up to a modern functioning standard, they too will reciprocate; clearing their gardens of waste, updating the general wellbeing of the are and working with the local authority to bring life to this once vibrant part of the city. All it will take will be for the Absentee Landlord to invest in his own property and trust the Housing Association that they can bring the property up to the standard expected; supported by the Regional Development Agency.
As you leave your son or daughter with four weeks of tinned food, a limitless supply of pot noodles and £20 credit on their phone your abiding thought is will the absentee landlord take up the Housing Associations offer and by the time you return to collect their belongings at the end year two you can see the changes that have been made have really made a difference. And most importantly, your son or daughter wants to stay and sign up in the property for the duration of year three.
Of course, there is nothing to stop an Absentee Landlord selling his property to someone who wants to work with the Housing Association; not only putting the physical house back in order but also adding new modern fixtures and fittings, perhaps building an extension, tidying up the gardens and garage and creating a property that puts the pride back into the area
Any Absentee Landlord wishing to know more about the works of the Housing Association referred to, what is has to offer and how it can bring regeneration to run down properties and areas, please check out the record of its Chief Executive Rafa Benitez @rafabenitezweb
For more on Development Agencies in your area check out @IfRafaGoesWeGo #IfRafaGoesWeGo
In 10 days time Newcastle United’s first team squad report back to Darsley Park for pre season training; the start of what could prove to be a defining season for the club; supporters and manager Rafa Benitez. On the back of a remarkable 10th place finish last season Rafa will be looking to move the club forward; build on last seasons successes, freshen up the squad and add those pieces of magic dust that move teams from mid table to challenging on more than just the premier league survival front.
However; news has reached us that the club are nowhere near to adding to the squad before the new training kit is laid out. Indeed, if the word is correct, there has been no activity whatsoever on the incoming transfer front and nor is there likely to be before the playing squad’s holidays are over and they’ve swapped the swimming pools of Vegas with the joys of an inevitable rainy Benton.
In normal times this would not seem an outward concern; after all, we are currently one week into the World Cup Russia2018 and the eyes of the football world are focused on Moscow, St Petersburg and all points east of river Volga. However, utterances of zero transfer activity and no likelihood of that situation changing any time soon tells us that these are not normal times and, lets face it, Newcastle United is not a normal club!
Why do we say that? Because it is our understanding that Rafa has yet to even meet with the club to discuss transfer activity or any budget that the club will make available to allow deals to happen.
The lack of any cohesive coming together regarding transfer policy with pre season training only days away does leave us believing that the club is engaging in a serious dereliction of its duty towards Rafa Benitez, his hard working backroom team, and the supporters.
Last season Rafa, his staff, the players, and the supporters all stepped up to the plate, galvanizing the club and producing memorable moments both on and off the pitch during what was the clubs 125th year as the North East’s premier and number one football club. Now is the time for the club hierarchy to do the same; starting by treating Rafa with the respect he deserves and supporters demand.
The question is, does the club and its owner hold the same torch of ambition to see the project develop?
All seater stadiums were introduced following the Taylor report, conducted immediately after the tragedy of Hillsborough some 29 years ago and had more to do with the government’s distain of football fans than the dilapidated stadiums that supporters frequented throughout Britain or any desire to make the experience of watching sporting events safer. If the latter really were the case, then all seater stadiums would be a universal requirement for all major sports in the UK; be it Football, Rugby (league and union), NFL, hockey, or a myriad of other outdoor venue sports. But No; football and only football was targeted.
The introduction of safe standing areas at football grounds in England and Wales is something that football supporters across the country have been advocating for a number of years and this desire has gained universal support. The development of rail seating as a safe and measured response to supporters desire to choose to stand and watch a game of football is seen as a measured, safe and sensible method of meeting this response while keeping safety as the paramount most important facet of the match day experience. The comments by the sports Minister Tracey Crouch when she stated that the calls for its introduction were coming from a “vocal minority” therefore come somewhat as a surprise. Not only is Crouch wrong, but her assessment that persistent standing at football grounds should be punished, shows how detached this politician is from the real world; the world of football in general and the concept of safe standing in particular.
The majority of football supporters understand the concept of rail seating as a viable and safe method that introduces safe standing to our grounds and the pilot programme at Celtic FC has witnessed nothing to the detriment of its introduction.
That is why football supporters need to stand together and let Tracey Crouch know how vocal the “vocal minority” really is. Please take the time to sign the petition here.
Click here or more information on Rail Seating and safe standing.
CALLING ALL SENIOR TOON FANS
Senior Newcastle United fans who can't make the match these days but who want to hear front-line reports about their favourite team are invited to attend a new informal gathering when Toon Army journalist legend John Gibson will speak.
The event, provisionally called Newcastle United Auxiliaries, will be held at Tyneside Irish Cultural Centre in Stowell Street (China Town) on Monday, March 12, from 12.30pm until 2pm.
Organiser Les Robson from Cramlington, explained: "Newcastle United both on and off the field is always a passionate topic of conversation. Many older people want to talk about what's going on but, unfortunately, are isolated at home.
"I know former season ticket holders who can't make games now for a number of reasons such as their physical frailties, the cost, the weather and even their dislike of the current regime, although they still love their club.
"The initial event follows the crucial Southampton home match with only eight weeks and eight games left until the end of a torrid season, so there will be plenty to talk about."
Les, 60, who has followed Newcastle United since 1965 but gave up his season ticket after last year's Championship winning season, continued: "The Auxiliaries is a means to bring people together for an informal discussion once a week.
"It will be an ad hoc meeting aimed at senior fans of both sexes where they can have a chat and a cuppa."
Les added: " Obviously we'd love people of all ages to attend. If younger fans could bring along their parents or anyone interested that would be brilliant.
"The only thing we'd stipulate is people have respect for everyone's opinions and we'll not tolerate racism”.
"Gibbo has agreed to do the first meeting. He'll talk for ten minutes and then there will be questions and, hopefully, a lively discussion."
John Gibson, a multi-award winning journalist who has covered Newcastle for the past 52 years, said: "It's a fantastic idea. I can't wait to hear the crack. Many of these supporters will have started attending matches in the 1930s and 40s and will have a wealth of folk knowledge about our club."
Les hopes the inaugural event at the Irish Centre will attract people from Tyneside and beyond so that season ticket holders will host a weekly meeting in their local area next season.
For further details contact Les on 07805496518
Putting aside talk of takeovers, Newcastle United is at a crossroads. At a time when the rewards for simply being a member of the Premier League are moving beyond the current financial stratosphere in which it operates, Mike Ashley needs to act and act quickly to protect his investment.
Having parked all talks of a sale Ashley needs to honour the commitment he made back in October 2017; show his faith in Rafa Benitez and invest in the squad in what remains of the January transfer window. And when we say invest, we don’t simply mean handing over a minimal amount of money to support loan signings that leave the club simply treading water. We mean release the necessary funds that bring quality signings and show a desire for success that Rafa wants to fulfill.
In doing so he also needs to re-evaluate the existing transfer policy that rolls together fees and salaries into the amount made available and adopt a more flexible policy that doesn’t leave the club at a disadvantage. After all, with long term planning no longer part of his thinking, he doesn’t need to concern himself too much with where the club will be in 5 years time!
It’s the middle of January 2018. The transfer window shuts in fifteen days time, Newcastle United have signed precisely zero players and Mike Ashley still owns the Club - despite there being at least one genuine bidder with the means to buy it, and Mr Ashley’s apparent willingness to sell.
So what’s going on?
Here’s what we do know, in mid August Mike Ashley gave an exclusive to his besties at Sky Sports where he admitted he couldn’t (or was unwilling to) back Rafa Benitez in the transfer window and as a result the club was up for sale.
His exact words were,
“I must make it crystal clear that I am not wealthy enough in football now to compete with the likes of Man City etcetera, not just Man City. It's basically a wealthy individual taking on the equivalent of a country. I cannot, and will not. That's why, if someone would like to come along, take this seat and fund Newcastle with a nought on the end with more wealth than me, I will not stand in Newcastle's way.”
In the subsequent months a bidder that fits his own criteria has come to the fore, but he is doing exactly what he said he wouldn’t do - he is standing in Newcastle’s way.
On 1st October 2017, Amanda Staveley appeared at St James’ Park and after a couple of weeks it became apparent that she was interested in leading a bid to buy Newcastle United Football Club. Then (probably in response to rumours) Mike Ashley got his thoughts out in front of us all - again using his favourite media outlet Sky Sports - this is what Keith Downie reported on 16th October:
And yet here we are on 16th January 2018 - a full three months later - and Mike Ashley still hasn’t sold the Club and still hasn’t backed Rafa in the transfer window. If I was a reporter for Sky Sports, I’d be on the phone to Mike Ashley’s people asking for further comment.
His words are there for all to see, and his words do not match his actions. So is he a liar? He’s certainly not acting in good faith or in the best interests of Newcastle United; yet those words - his “PROMISE” - are yet to be acted on. However the people who brought you these “exclusives” seem to be completely disinterested in following up on the story.
Why is that?
I appreciate that Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United can be a little like Donald Trump’s White House and gobby journalists can be banned for doing their jobs properly - but there is no way on God’s Green Earth that a football club would ban a Sky Sports reporter from their premises. Sky Sports pay all of their wages, it’s the bank that runs football. They are perhaps the only outlet to have the power to push this story - and yet they choose not to. Well shame on them. I know we aren’t talking about the Washington Post here - this isn’t All the President’s Men, but surely your own sense of professionalism would be pleading with you to dig deeper? Instead it seems like it’s all just a laugh, and as long as the joke is on us deluded Geordies then it doesn’t really matter.
I spent many years working in sales - and as my old boss used to say “something is only worth what someone is willing to pay” - considering there are no other bids and there haven’t been any other bids since 2009 then perhaps Newcastle United is only worth what PCP Capital Partners are willing to pay. That the value has not doubled or tripled during Mr Ashley’s decade of ownership is nobody’s fault but his own.
At the end of the day all we know is that if Mr Ashley does not sell and/ or back Rafa in the next fortnight the chances that Newcastle United will get relegated for a third time under his ownership will be frighteningly high. And if the worst does come to pass in May, then the price someone is willing to pay for the club will be significantly lower than it is now. All he needs to do is look at Them Down The Road to see how disastrous that could be.
PCP Capital Partners are still here; they haven't gone away. Their interest is real and their offer of £250m remains on the table. Rafa Benitez is working miracles trying to keep the show on the road despite Mr Ashley's unwillingness to back him financially, while he risks his asset in a gamble that all of Tyneside considers to be an act of unforgivable vindictiveness. It makes no sense to risk diminishing your asset when a well reasoned offer sits waiting to be accepted.
Yet Ashley seems hell bent on doing just that.
Perhaps Sky Sports could ask Mike, Why?
Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor are takeover bids. They take months of planning, hundreds of hours of analysis to establish the facts and millions of pounds to reach conclusion. They need a willing buyer as well as a willing seller and despite the recent run of poor results that have engaged the mind of supporters over recent weeks, one constant has been the presence of PCP Capital Partners as the only show in town when it comes to offers to purchase the football club.
It was back in October that Mike Ashley announced his intention to put the club up for sale when he informed supporters that,
"As one of the Premier League's oldest and best supported football clubs - and for the benefit of its many fans and supporters in the UK and across the world - Newcastle United requires a clear direction and a path to a bright and successful future.”
“To give the club the best possible opportunity of securing the positioning and investment necessary to take it to the next level, at what is an important time in its history, its present ownership has determined that it is in the best interests of Newcastle United and its fans for the club to be put up for sale.”
“To give an incoming owner the maximum possible flexibility to make meaningful investment in the club, including in its playing squad, the sale process will give interested parties the opportunity of deferring substantial payments.”
Amanda Staveley and her team showed their hand quite early; and not long after Ashley’s statement was released. It was heavily reported at the time that he wanted the club sold before Christmas, such was his eagerness to end his tenure on Tyneside; therefore they studiously conducted their due diligence and posted their offer after a full and forensic assessment of the club. And key to that valuation was the presence of Rafa Benitez.
Newcastle United supporters aren’t stupid. They know a good a manager when they see one and so do PCP Capital Partners. Indeed, in Rafa Benitez both see a world-class manager; one that they want to remain in place to realise the investment that is on the table. Wild speculation questioning Rafa’s commitment, ability or desire from whatever quarter is unhelpful at best and serves no purpose other than to destabilise proceedings at a time when everyone needs to be staying calm and pulling together.
Supporters also know with certainty that PCP Capital Partners are the only show in town when it comes to a desire to purchase the football club. They should also know therefore that it was the presence of Rafa Benitez, his passion, his desire for success and his standing in the game that attracts them to consider investing in Newcastle United.
Our understanding is that PCP have serious plans for Newcastle United; a Newcastle United with Rafa Benitez at the helm. They want to realise those plans; have funds available that would bring continuous improvement to the playing squad over the next three transfer windows and beyond. They do not see relegation as a threat to those plans and indeed, those plans show that they and their investors are in this for the long haul.
How do we know? Because we asked them!
Put simply, they are Ashley’s only hope if he seriously wants that clean break; selling to someone who wants to take the club forward and provide the investment needed to take the club to that next level that he himself says he cannot provide.
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