The situation that we now find ourselves in is all Mike Ashley’s making. He chose to appoint Joe Kinnear; he allowed Kinnear free reign to make the announcement without notifying anyone at the club; he allowed Kinnear to go back on Talksport and continue to release information about his appointment, his position within the club and the imminent change of job description of the MD Derek Llambias. He also allowed Kinnear to explain the new transfer policy that the club would adopt; everything going through Kinnear himself.
 
Throughout his time at NE1 Ashley has never publicly uttered a single word about his plans for the club; instead choosing to speak through first Chris Mort and then Derek Llambias. His inner sanctum of advisors has fluctuated between the very public (Wise, Jiminez) to the very private. He has sacked or lost 5 managers (Allardyce, Keegan, Kinnear, Houghton, Shearer), paid millions in compensation to managers and back room staff; taken platitudes and stick in unequal proportion; had the club dragged through the courts; seen us relegated from and promoted back to the Premier League; taken us on a European journey that was long on enjoyment but ultimately impacted on our fight for Premier League survival by a failure to provide his manager with a squad capable of competing on both domestic and European fronts. We have seen sponsors come and go. More go, if utterances about our commercial position are anything to go by. We’ve had the fuss concerning the ground name; the new club shirt sponsors, transfer policy, ticketing arrangements for away travel, the ban on watching training sessions and reserve fixtures, the abandonment of L7 signing section, heavy handed stewarding, issues concerning standing in the Gallowgate Corner and a general perception that some at the club simply enjoy rubbing our noses in the dirt.

We have been told that we are following the Arsenal model (16 consecutive seasons in the Champions' League), the Aston Villa model (a youth policy based on Academy A status); the Liverpool model (is there such a thing?). Thankfully we have never been informed that we are following the Sunderland model !

We have been left sometimes dazed, sometimes confused; sometimes ecstatic and at other times bereft of an understanding of where we are heading. We have praised, we have berated, we’ve screamed and we’ve at times protested but as supporters we have continued to support the team as we always have and always will; loyalty comes as part of our birthright; we are born into it and we carry it with dignity and pride in equal measure.

We have supporters who simply want to attend on match days. We have others who see results as the be all and end all of everything. Some attend religiously home and away, never missing a game. Others just do home games and some simply dip in and dip out when the desire of finances allow. Some no longer attend; be it for work, family, financial or personal reasons but each and every one of them remain supporters; carrying with them the passion during 90 minutes with the same strength of belonging as the next man.

That is the beauty of being a Geordie; being a Newcastle Supporter. Being part of something collective. We feed off the oxygen of the club; eat sleep and drink its movements, utterances, publicity, products, success and failure. We talk football incessantly; we talk Newcastle United even more. And when our club is wounded we feel wounded too. When it doesn’t talk to us we feel rebuked; when it is successful we feel buoyed and we buzz. Success being measured in victories not trophies, obviously.

But because Mike Ashley hasn’t uttered a single word to supporters in six years and hasn’t explained a single decision that he has made for the “benefit and stability” of the club, many feel angry; take it personal and start to question motives. A void is created and without the oxygen of communication the void starts to get filled for many with a fear, a loathing and a desire to seek answers; a desire for change.

The change that NUFCFANS UNITED seeks is a change in attitude; a removal of the mistrust that exists between Mike Ashley and supporters; a desire to help the club realize the importance of direct and positive communication and a desire to see success. That’s why we set the group up; convinced by Malcolm Dix that in the long term, club and supporter needed to listen to each other.

The recent appointment of a fans' liaison officer was a great start and Lee Marshall, with the backing of Derek Llambias (now departed) and the support of PR officer Wendy Taylor.  Lee is doing a great job building a set up based on trust and a sound understanding how important communication is. Indeed, Derek himself was working his way slowly into the task and in recent months was pulling in the right direction; engaging once more with supporters with grace and courtesy; and having met with him I warmed to his change of approach. Don’t get me wrong; he was no saint and I’m sure that his single minded approach to some issues would have remained and would not necessarily have been for the good for the club (my opinion). But with commercial finances starting to come into to the club I think he was finally being released from the shackles that Mike Ashley’s business plan held him to.

We know Derek’s departure was not anticipated by either himself or his staff and his successor needs to build on the important work that Lee and Wendy were implementing through fan liaison; ensuring that supporters views are taken as of paramount importance in decision making in the future for the benefit of everyone associated with Newcastle United.

NUFC FANS UNITED hold monthly meetings. Our meetings are open to anyone to attend; we have an agenda that lays down topics for discussion; we don’t shape or develop opinion; we simply provide the vehicle for supporters to come together to discuss issues or concerns; listen to opinions and see those opinions, concerns and issues fed back to the club for consideration. We ask people to join as “members” simply so that we can e mail them and invite them to bring forward agenda points before each meeting. Our last meeting saw an abundance of opinion put forward with various levels of passion; none more so than by the MAOC group. The meeting provided them with a platform and they put forward a motion to those attending that endorsed their own opinion on Mike Ashley’s Suitability to be the custodian of Newcastle United. Many in the room agreed and their motion was passed on a show of hands. That group will no doubt now carry on with its campaigning in whatever manner they see fit; good luck to them.  They’ve started the debate and already social networks will be fuelling that debate as we crawl towards the first fixtures of the season.  If there is such a thing as a Mike Ashley In Campaign (MAIC) then they too will be given the same opportunity as MOAC if they so wish; come along; talk, be listened too and run their counter campaign. That’s what NUFC FANS UNITED is all about; providing supporters with a vehicle to have their opinion heard and listened to by the club and if anyone has a problem with that then there is probably little we can say or do that will be of benefit to them.

NUFC FANS UNITED won’t run campaigns for change; we won’t be holding protest rallies and we won’t be calling for anyone’s head; that’s not our purpose. But we will continue to provide fans with a platform for their concerns to be presented to the club and help their fans' liaison team in the best way we can.

 

Steve H

NUFC FANS UNITED
 
 
We should have included this into the minutes just make everyone aware of what was asked.  Just for reference, we received over 500 questions (many were repeats), they were compiled into the following sections and list.  These questions were passed on the NUFC on Monday and a sample were read out to start the meeting.  Further questions were asked on the night, but nothing that provided a major departure from the below. 


Joe Kinnear
  1. Why Joe Kinnear? What are his credentials?
  2. Was he the only candidate? 
  3. Aren’t you concerned about his health?
  4. Why not somebody like Chris Mort?
  5. Why the delay in announcing?
  6. Did Llambias walk or was he pushed?
  7. Doesn’t this appointment undermine Alan Pardew/ other staff?
  8. Who allowed JK on TalkSport?


General Q’s about JK
  1. How will this work? (ie who’s responsible for what - clarity of JK’s role)
  2. Who has the final say on players?
  3. How do the players feel - especially those whose names he mangled?
  4. What action did the Club take after TalkSport? 
  5. Do the Club not feel embarrassed by TalkSport?


General Mike Ashley/ Ownership
  1. Why did MA buy the Club? 
  2. Does he still “want” to own NUFC?
  3. Can you help us understand what you are trying to achieve with NUFC?
  4. What does Mike Ashley want? Why does he do things he knows anger fans?
  5. Will you ever issue a statement (from YOU) or communicate directly with fans?
  6. Would you sell?
  7. Would you consider some form of scheme to allow (partial) fan ownership?
  8. How much we now owe Ashley has he been taking the installments back?
  9. Would MA accept further (outside) investment into NUFC?


General NUFC
  1. What happened to the “five year plan”?
  2. Do you think you are following your own Mission Statement (refresh???)
  3. How can we be confident in club when direction changes more than the wind?
  4. What does the last week to to encourage stability?
  5. What progress have you made as a club?
  6. & do you actually understand how important the customer is?
  7. What was the MASSIVE commercial deal that was going to be announced at the end of the season?
  8. Would you ever consider bringing a safe standing/ singing section back?
  9. Will SJP ever be upgraded to hold more? 
  10. What’ the thinking behind “membership” also do you know how poor an offer it is?
  11. Also as a side question can they look at away games, in particular lifting the ban on non season ticket holders and also taking the full quota of tickets offered by the home clubs
  12. Have you published the revised disabled supporters’ ticketing policy yet? Who are you consulting with?


Transfer/ Team questions
  1. What is the transfer strategy? Has it changed? Are will still buy young & cheap?
  2. Why didn’t we sign players last summer to build on 5th place?
  3. Why weren't the buys/ sales sorted the week after the last game as promised?
  4. Can we get out of the Wonga deal?
  5. Do we always have to bring in money first before buying?
  6. Could the club look into fan input on how the club is ran?
  7. Is the rumour true about Aubameyang been offered shares in SD in a contract offer?
  8. How often do you practise corners and do you have any tactics
  9. with us £18mil up on transfers and the wage bill down + TV deal, why arent we spending big eg Aubameyeng
  10. And how long are we going to have to put up with the fact that the likes of Gutierrez and Tiote are constantly bigged up as being 'key players' for the team when in reality the only thing they contribute is holding us back?

Any other business
  • Pre - season tournament held at St James' Park each year. Newcastle United and 3 of Sir Bobby's former clubs all taking part. Four teams in the tournament with the opposition rotated each year so they all get a turn. Imagine the interest in this man! They could even donate the gate money to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation
  • Why not do themed screenings of classic matches in the off-season?
  • Why not embrace the city, embrace the club and its fans - it would help build a winning team.


Sorry if we missed your question or you felt yours was significantly different to the above

 
 
INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME
Bill Corcoran welcomed everyone to the meeting and gave a brief outline of NUFC Fans United’s history and the need for Newcastle United fans of all views to join together and work with each other and the club to strengthen the voice of supporters and engage with the club. Bill called on attendees of the meeting to join the organisation stating that the organisation needs the “support, commitment and talent” of Newcastle United fans.

Bill stated that two representatives from Newcastle United, Wendy Taylor, Head of Media and Lee Marshall, Fan’s Liaison Officer were both present at the meeting to observe the meeting and to talk and listen to fans. However neither would address the meeting because at this moment in time, they simply do not have any information to pass on to fans following the recent events at the club, which have seen Joe Kinnear appointed Director of Football and Derek Llambias depart as Chief Executive.


ISSUES/VIEWS VIA EMAIL AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Multimedia spokesperson Zahra that the organisation has received over 500 questions, issues and views sent via email and social media. Due to the number of responses it was impossible to address each individually, though she explained that she had collated the responses and they could be broken down into a number of broad catagories. These included concerns over Joe Kinnear’s appointment, lack of communication from the club, questions about the club’s transfer policy, concerns regarding the sponsorship deal with Wonga, calls for the return of the singing section, calls for Newcastle United to actively support the issue of safe standing, and questions regarding increasing the capacity of St James’ Park.

Messages of support to Fans United and the meeting had also been received from Honorary Vice-President of Newcastle United Malcolm Dix, ex Hartlepool United and Darlington player and Newcastle United fan Brian Honour, and former Newcastle United players Pavel Srnicek and Paul Kitson.


QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
The floor was opened up to attendees and a number of issues were aired. The issues raised tended to echo the responses which had come through via email and social media. Most expressed concern over Kinnear’s appointment and the lack of communication from the club.


STEVE WRAITH
Steve followed on from the points raised from the floor and agreed that the club has a problem with communication and that this is a problem which dates back to the 1960s. However Steve highlighted the progress that NUFC Fans United has made. The organisation has built up a relationship with Wendy and Lee from NUFC and one or both now attend every Fans Utd meeting and as a result progress has been made. Steve echoed Bill’s earlier comments and emphasised that Fans Utd is an umbrella organisation, open to all Newcastle United fans, regardless of the view.

There were a number of favourable responses to this from the floor.


MIKE ASHLEY OUT CAMPAIGN
Graeme from the Mike Ashley Out Campaign, one of a number of groups affiliated to Fans Utd spoke to give their take on Mike Ashley’s record as Newcastle United owner. Graeme argued that the “humiliation” of Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer, the “inexplicable sacking” of Chris Hughton, and the renaming of St James’ Park are all examples of a “consistently pursued agenda” by Mike Ashley. 

The appointment of Joe Kinnear to the role of Director of Football and his subsequent behaviour, whereby he has managed to insult fans, the city, the local media and even current players, cannot be viewed in any way, shape or form to be a progressive step for the wellbeing of the club. It has further alienated the very people who are essential to the club's growth and betterment. The subsequent resignation of Derek Llambias has shown how unplanned and arbitrary the decision making process is at Newcastle United.

Indeed, recent events are yet another gross error of judgement in a catalogue of PR disasters which have occurred since Mike Ashley bought NUFC in 2007. Among other things, the club has overseen the public humiliation of 2 Club Legends in Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer, the self-inflicted disaster of relegation in 2009, the unexplained and inexplicable dismissal of a Chris Hughton, the renaming of St James's Park and a continued lack of investment and ambition, which was reflected by the club's extremely poor form last season. 

Mike Ashley has: overseen all of these events, continually failed to engage the fans and consistently pursued an agenda that has seen a sad demise of the club, both on and off the field.

This house declares that Mike Ashley is not a fit and proper person to be the custodian of a footballing institution that has a proud history and tradition and enjoys one of the biggest and most fervent followings in European football.

We call for Mike Ashley to consider his position as owner of Newcastle United and to begin a process of exiting before he does any more damage to either the club or his own reputation.

We also urge all fans who truly want the club to progress; individuals, fans’ groups, magazine and blog editors, journalists, local politicians and proud Geordies everywhere, to unite in solidarity, not only to see the end of this failed era by means of a coordinated and determined campaign of peaceful protest; but also to promote the great assets that are the club and the city, so that we can work in partnership with any interested commercial parties in the future, whereby we can once again build a team and a club to be proud of.

Mike Ashley has had far too many chances from the good people of this area and has continued to exploit their loyalty and devotion to the club with a crass and callous disregard for their welfare and opinions. 

Now is the time for action. We are drawing a line now: Enough is enough. 

Sell Up and Get out Now; your time is up!


REBUTTAL FROM “ROLAND” READ BY STEVE WRAITH
Just ahead of your proposed meeting on Monday night, I would urge you to consider all facts and approach the discussion with a clear mind, cool head and the facts at hand.

I was beside myself with Kinnear's appointment, happily swept along with everyone else in the world about what an abysmal appointment it was/is, furious that this glorious club could be dragged through the mud....again.....for about the umpteenth time in the last 30 years or so (McKeag, Westwood, Waddle, Gazza, Beardo, Relegation, Cole, Ferdy, Ginola, Dalglish, Gullit, SBR, Shepherd/Hall, Allardyce, Ashley, NUFC for sale x 3, Wise, Jimenez, KK, Kinnear, Relegation, Hughton, Sportsdirect.com, Wonga, and finally Kinnear).

But this week my attitude has shifted. I think it's mainly down to the Telegraph's utterly foundation-free article on our very own Graham Carr leaving (though since time of writing we have been the subject of other topics, i.e. Ben Arfa/Cabaye being "unhappy"). And it smacks of sensationalism, although something I am used to as a NUFC fan - the media deciding now's a good time to put the boot in, whilst smugly adding the line "the fans deserve better". What we actually "deserve" is for journalists to actually do something for us, to find out the real why's of Kinnear's appointment. To look at Llambias and instead of jumping on the "look, this wonderful man left because of the heinous sinner Joe Kinnear - what a laughing stock" actually take a considered view of what Llambias had done. Two Summers in a row, Llambias has messed up our pre-season. He left us short-changed and is THE most responsible for the failure last season. He has done a good job, financially, but footballing-ly has failed miserably time and again. He was around when we went down, he was overseeing Wise/Jimenez arriving, he was there screwing around with Shearer and KK - don't let the media hamper your long term memory. 

Let's also note that Ashley doesn't have a wide footballing circle. He doesn't go anywhere, with anyone. His choices are going to be severely limited. Somehow Joe Kinnear has penetrated this inner sanctum of trust - Joe Kinnear has done what thousands of journalists have failed to do, and he did it in 4 months at the club. If that doesn't tell you something about the character of the man, then what does? 

Llambias is gone. Pardew is now more accountable. Ashley has made a change at the club, the intentions simply CANNOT be negative. There is NO point in the club getting relegated. So this single change - Llambias for Kinnear - may be daft, but might I argue that getting swept up in so much hypocritical bullsh!t at the hands of Fleet Street is maybe not the best way to go? Maybe, just maybe, we should take it with a pinch of salt - we've been through far, far worse - grab it with both hands and see what happens?  What would be so wrong in standing WITH Joe Kinnear, instead of against him?


Just 5 months ago we were jigging in the streets because we could pull Sissoko and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa through the gates. 8 months previous to that we were the 5th best team in the country. But today we're in crisis? It shouldn't be so. Us fans should have a Championship mentality, in that anything better than the second tier is a plus. We are never eating at the top table, we don't have flagrantly disrespectful, overtly flamboyant owners. Mayhap one day we will. But until then we should only cast envious glances at North London (not West London, nor the NorthWest of England where oil buys loyalty) and enjoy what we have. Pardew cares, Kinnear cares and I think even the owner has been bitten by the Geordie bug. We should act like a vortex, bigger than anything - if you want in, we'll take you and sod the rest. Not this current mentality, where we pick and choose who can come in. What are we, Eton Boys School????? Bottom line is we have to steel our resolve against Fleet Street, not those within the hallowed walls of NUFC. They're on our team, in some way, shape or form!


JOE KINNEAR
Joe Kinnear’s representative Eddie McIntyre was present to speak on his behalf. Eddie was met with a degree of hostility from the floor and he called for Newcastle United fans to “get off Joe Kinnear’s back.”


MIKE ASHLEY OUT CAMPAIGN MOTION
The statement read out earlier on behalf of the Mike Ashley Out Campaign calling on Mike Ashley to withdraw as Newcastle United owner was tabled by that group and was passed by the majority of attendees.

END OF MEETING


Thoughts on the meeting




 
 
Well that went…  What are my thoughts in the cold light of day, the morning after the night before, as it were?  It’s a shame it descended into a bear-pit at the end - but in hindsight that was to be expected and in some ways it was; we were very clear to the Club that we felt the meeting would be a venting-zone.  

So why did I say, in hindsight?  Because I think I  (and here I do mean me personally rather than the group) underestimated the level of anger that exists because of the Joe Kinnear appointment.  Or maybe, more accurately the anger that still exists at the ownership of the Club.

You see the thing is I WAS very unhappy post KK, at Hull, post relegation, post Sports Direct Arena, post Chris Hughton etc etc etc. I’ve never been involved in any fans’ groups at all - like many I joined the Trust, but when I felt it stopped “listening to us” I lost interest. Then after reading two articles - one George Caulkin’s magnificent “Mike Ashley Must Go” and something posted by True Faith I decided something had to be done.  

Originally NUFC Fans United was set up by two of us with the stated aim of “providing a hub for all anti-Ashley groups”.  The thing with any group is that to be effective you need “critical mass” otherwise you end us looking like that famous Monty Python skit from the “Life of Brian” which I see is doing the rounds again this morning.  Once more and more people got involved I saw it as a natural progression to move from being purely ant-Ashley to being more about engaging with his regime. I am a ranter you see, but I’m also a pragmatist - and the way I see it is, at the moment we’re “stuck” with Mike Ashley; so what do we do?  Do we continue to rabble-rouse and call for boycotts and protests - or do we try and engage?  The pragmatist is me, says engage. 

Now comes the tricky part - and when I go off script… as a fan, I don’t want to organise meetings and have dialogue with press officers - I want to be the “silent” (but cheering my wildly successful team) majority.  I have two kids, I run my own business - I don’t need to spend my weekends collating questions for meetings with my Club.  It’s the off-season FFS… I want to watch baseball and read about the exciting players we are signing.  But I’m a Newcastle United fan - and that aint gonna happen (not for a while anyway) - so as someone who believes that communication is as much about listening as it is about talking/ shouting/ ranting, I worked with the others to provide a platform for individual fans to have their say to the Club.  Which brings us to last night…

Last night was either a farce or a success depending on how you look at it.  If you wanted a formal minuted meeting where Club reps gave answers to all sorts of questions and a fellow fan (friend of Joe Kinnear, Eddie McIntyre) wasn’t heckled - then yes it was a disaster.  If however you wanted to provide a platform for fans to express their feelings, be heard, have a rant and start to see the power of their voice(s) then it was a resounding success. I have no idea how many people showed up - 300+ though would be my guess - think about it.  It’s a Monday in the off-season, on a night when “The Man With 10 Stone Testicles” is on TV and we had a packed out meeting in the centre of Newcastle. Yes there was ranting, yes there was shouting and yes there was heckling - BUT and this is KEY - there was passion, there was eloquence and there was listening and that is DEMOCRACY.  

It amazes me how many people complain about lack of communication between the Club and Fans and then want to censor the message going one way!  That’s not communication that’s propaganda.  It would’ve been great if Lee and Wendy had addressed the crowd, but they felt it would be inappropriate to do so - they did however turn up and 4:30 and they didn’t leave until 10:00 - and spoke to many attendees on an individual basis - that shows commitment, if nothing else.  The aforementioned, Eddie, much to his credit did the same; listening and talking to fans with dignity and respect long after “the final whistle”.  

I’d like to thank all those fans who sent in questions and statements and in particular those who took the time to speak last night, it took great courage to address what was a very angry crowd.  Yes it was heated and while I personally don’t agree with many of those opinions - it’s not my job to stifle debate.

Yes there was a motion passed for a protest, but that was called for by one of our member organisations - not us.  Back to hindsight, perhaps we should have had a counter motion - but we didn’t.  Does that mean NUFC Fans United has gone back to its Anti-Ashley roots?  Not at all - this is bigger than that.  As Bobby Robson famously said 

"What is a club? Not the buildings, directors or people who are paid to represent it, the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes. It's the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, It's a small boy gripping his father's hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love."

That’s what was on display last night “the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging” - I admit I hadn’t understood quite how angry people are, and that’s mainly because my own feelings are so conflicted.  BUT what I do know is this - giving people the floor, letting them see their own power, allowing them to show their passion and giving them a chance to be heard is something I’d do over and over and over again. This isn’t about Joe Kinnear, this isn’t about Mike Ashley - this is about us and our Club.

I totally admire those with the commitment to boycott and protest, but I can’t do that - a few good results and I’m back on the NUFC crackpipe; so although we provided a platform to allow the Mike Ashley campaign to call for a protest and it passed (by a resounding majority) that doesn’t mean we as a group change direction - it means we continue to provide the platform and encourage alternative views to be spoken too. If you expect easy answers and cliched platitudes from NUFC Fans United or to be told what you should or shouldn’t say or think, then you’ve come to the wrong place.  Our job isn’t to tell you what to think, it’s to listen to what you think.  Is that naive? Possibly. Is it idealistic? Definitely. But that doesn’t mean we’re doomed to failure, because unlike Newcastle United, real life isn’t black and white.

 
 
[Below is part of a blog post entitled Jesus F***ing Krist - read the full post here]

While I can understand the deep frustration and sense of despair many supporters now feel, it is wrong to throw up our hands in frustration and say that we can’t do anything. Tactics, so vitally important on the pitch, have an equally compelling place among our support as we seek to make a principled stand. Do not despair; if we supporters work together, we are no longer weak, isolated voices crying in the wilderness; we will be strong, coherent, effective and we will be listened to. However, and this is of the utmost importance, we must  work together; egos, personal spats and historic feuds, need to be put to one side and every concerned Newcastle United fan, whether they are in the NUFC Fans United and toon talk camp, on the fence with Black & White Daft and nufc.com or failing to grasp the nettle with The Mag and the painfully ineffectual and utterly discredited NUST, or even if they’re unaligned and railing in fury and impotent anger on message boards, Twitter or blogs, has to come together as a broad and inclusive alliance, formed from the grassroots up, with the intention of reclaiming our club from the clutches of evil, rapacious capitalists who seek to serve only their own interests at every possible opportunity. What has gone on in the past must remain there; again, the time is right for all supporters to work together to express our collective fury and contempt at this decision and, hopefully, the desire to move the club forward by taking control of it ourselves.

However, it is abundantly clear to me that any supporter-led organisation needs to be very clear about principles and tactics from the outset. WB Yeats claimed The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity; while I do not necessarily accept this to be the case with our fans, it is of paramount importance that the Newcastle United support transforms itself in to a mass, democratic movement of all supporters, based on unshakeable principles and clear tactics, rather than being born of high minded intentions, but degenerating in to a shouty self-perpetuating vanguard of opportunists with little knowledge of and even less affection for Newcastle United. The danger of the future potential primacy of a cadre of inflexible ideologues using the travails of Newcastle United as a Trojan horse for their own ends, is that our fans will see through this and, rather than being inspired by their rhetoric or empowered to argue their own case, assume once again the depressing cloak of cynicism and the embittered shrug that is the keynote of so much of our recent history and attempts at engaging supporters for change. Were that to be the case, all motivation and enthusiasm for change will be lost.

As an example, look at the scorn and abuse NUFC Fans United engendered for being involved in the replacement of the Leazes gates. Yes I know they weren’t the iconic Gallowgate gates and it was a disgrace they’d somehow ended in possession of Wynyard Hall, like so much that belonged to the club in the 1990s, but surely denigrating the efforts of those who acted in the best interests of supporters to have a small slice of history replaced was not the conduct of self-serving egotists or people with a personal agenda to pursue. As supporters, we need to get over this and we need to work together.

It is my fervent and unshakeable belief that what needs to happen to Newcastle United is that the club is eventually owned 100% by supporters of the team, whether they be born within a goal kick of the Gallowgate End or whether they are part of the worldwide Geordie diaspora and run in the interests of the support, the community and the good of the game as a whole. Am I talking the FC United of Manchester model? Indeed I am. Am I talking the FC Barcelona model? Indeed I am. Whether Newcastle United compete at Northern Premier or Champions League level is, in a sense, immaterial; what matters more than anything else is that the club is run on open, democratic, accountable and honourable lines. Of course I accept that there is a debate to be had and an argument to be won that playing football at six levels lower than we are now is good for Newcastle United, but I relish the challenge of making that case. Repeatedly.

For the moment, the important thing is to start the debate. There is a conduit for anger and for a meeting of all interested parties to try and find a way to work through this. NUFC Fans United have organised a meeting at the Labour Club on Monday 24th June, 6.00pm-8.30; if you care about your club, please make every effort to attend.