This is obviously a difficult and emotive subject and one which has threatened to destabilise the positive air that has surrounded NUFC of late. We would like to remind anyone hoping to attend this meeting that firstly we welcome all views and all individual opinion must be respected. Secondly we are simply a conduit to allow discussion and debate; we cannot, and it is not our intention to, lead or form any kind of protest or direct action. However that is not to say the meeting point would not allow any like minded groups to gather and share their intentions with other similar organisations. We are simply here to discuss and gather the full range of opinion with the intention of carrying this forward to reflect the breadth and depth of feeling within the fan base of NUFC.
If you can't attend the meeting but would like to have your feelings shared with those in attendance, please email a "testimonial" to us: nufcfansutd AT gmail DOT com
Below are some we have already received.
"I can't make the meeting - but both as the councillor for the ward that houses St James' Park and a life long supporter I am shocked (but not surprised) at the re-naming. It seems that just as an opportunity to build bridges between the supporters and the club was beginning to emerge, they do something utterly stupid and crass. They clearly have no understanding of the supporters and the traditions of the club. It's simply money and perhaps another step by Ashley to sell the club. I wish you all well and hopefully will be around for the next meeting." -- Geoff O'Brien, Westgate Councillor, Lord Mayor of Newcastle.
"I am saddened but not surprised at this latest farce at our club. This regime appear love hitting the self destruct button and the timing of this announcement serves only to provoke the fans with the team sitting pretty in 4th place. The removal of the East Stand signage took place in the last International break so are we beginning to see a pattern here? What's next? Sports Direct on the strip...take that for granted folks...red and white stripes? Never say never! The Sports Direct theme tune playing the lads onto the pitch...why not...Get used to it folks....this abuser in an abusive relationship will keep slapping us round the face...its up to each one of us to decide whether we keep going back or not." -- Steve Wraith, Players Inc Event Management.
"Speaking as a 53 year old ex pat Geordie now living in Yorkshire, i have followed & supported the team all my life, so now do my two sons. Through all those 43 years + the team has been 'co-joined' with their 'home' SJP, in fact of course through out generations before. Yes, it is just a name, but in reality much more than that. How about changing Wembley to The Microsoft Arena, or St. Paul's Cathedral to The Stadium of Eternal Osram Light, got to worth a few bob eh? Which is where it's at now, down to money & sod the heart felt Geordie emotion linked to its home name. The message is simple, please Mike, give us our 'home' back." -- Stuart Blackham
"All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing; and nothing is what the good men (and women) of Tyneside have been doing over the last four years while NUFC is slowly but surely transformed from a football club into a souless marketing tool for Mr Ashley’s first love. We’ve all been outraged, incensed, offended or insulted at some point but when it comes to the crunch as a collective we’ve done next to nothing to defend the club we claim to love. Renaming St James’ Park is a watershed moment. If we don’t get our act together now we never will and the steady trickle of disrespect will become a flood. Supporters need the influential voices of the NUFC scene to put aside their differences and back a call for action. How and what doesn’t matter right now. The important thing is we stop shrugging our shoulders and saying there’s nothing we can do. Without us there is no business. We have it in our power to put up a real fight but we need to stop throwing in the towel when the bell is rung. Doing nothing isn’t a decision that is forced upon us, it’s a choice. We’ve chosen to let people who can’t spell carry the baton for NUFC, chosen to absolve ourselves of responsibility." -- Matt Flynn
"A few words about our stadium being raped of its heritage and history.Text Message - Get on Twitter now, you'll not believe what he's done now...The thing is, I had a feeling about was awaiting me when I logged onto the social networking equivalent of a fat loud mouth wifey, wearing leggings leaning over her back fence spreading bile into the ether.When I read the news, it didn't surprise me, it still doesn't. What else did he have left to desecrate with his red and blue rubbish? At first I was a bit numb towards the whole thing, kind of ignoring it, shrugging it off and going about my day. Now, however, I've had nearly a week to stew and now I'm boiling over with anger, shame, embarrassment and downright incredulity at how one mans ego trip can be used to strip a local landmark of its Identity in order to peddle third rate sportswear.Ashley has made some unbelievable PR blunders over the years, but how out of touch do you have to be with your customers, to think that this is a good idea.He says "we had no choice" "it will make the club £8-10m a year". In my opinion, the name St James Park is worth ten times that amount and the memories and history which we have experienced are literally priceless.Regardless of what our stadium ends up being officially called, it will always be St James' Park to the people who matter. The fans." -- Taylor, Taylor & Besty
"The renaming of St. James' Park is a classic case of penny wise and millions of pounds foolish. Americans like us who have adopted Newcastle United as our Premier League passion provide a perfect illustration.Why is the Premier League gaining audience so fast in America? It's not like we don't have enough on our plates already. We have leagues in four sports that rival the Premier League's popularity in England. And we have our own Major Soccer League that's growing in popularity as well. What's so attractive about getting up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to watch English matches instead? One word: tradition. We're enthralled by the layers of history, the depth of support, the colors, the chants, the songs - and yes, the quirky, old-fashioned, covered-stand stadiums that don't exist in our younger nation and are so striking on our televisions. Fenway Park and Wrigley Field in baseball are venerated above all American stadiums for their age and coziness, and those ballparks are fundamental to the Red Sox' and Cubs' massive fan bases. English soccer has Fenways and Wrigleys dotted across the national landscape. That has tremendous pull for American fans, even those who may rarely if ever see the stadiums in person.We're entering a decade in which millions of Americans will choose a Premier League club to follow and support. For reasons previously stated, we think Newcastle United has a chance to be a huge club in America, and the steadily growing readership of this blog is yet more evidence. In that respect, St. James' Park is a decisive advantage for Newcastle over a bigger club like Arsenal that plays in a spaceship with corporate branding.At the critical, semi-conscious moment in which a club wins a fan's heart, branding can be as important as reality, especially when that reality is experienced at our distance. At that key moment, watching players march out behind a TV graphic that says "St. James' Park" might make all the difference. If I'd turned on a match one Saturday morning being televised live from Sports Direct Arena, is it possible I might have gravitated instead toward Old Trafford, or Stamford Bridge, or White Hart Lane? You bet. This site and its thousands of readers - maybe, before long, millions - might not exist. Or, worse, it might read 'I Wish I Was A Scouser.'Maybe Mike Ashley doesn't care about America. He'd better. The untapped market for English soccer in America is staggering. As global money continues to pour into the Premier League, it's grow or suffer for each individual club. Like it or not, America is where the growth is. We have enough sterile modern stadiums with awkward corporate names. Differentiation from the American experience means everything for a Premier League club seeking to plant a following in our fertile ground. "Sports Direct Arena" sounds more ridiculously American than most stadiums in America.So go ahead Mr. Ashley, if you must, and collect your paltry £10 million for the piecemeal sale of Newcastle's brand and soul. Try not to think about the hundreds of millions it might cost you down the line." -- Bob Schwoch, Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA www.newcastleunited.us