The Magpie Group are starting to step up their protests against Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, with plans in place to show the Sports Direct owner what the fans think of him, but this time inside St James’ park.
The plan from the group is to stage an 11 minute walk-in during the West Ham game on December 1st, where the group are asking fans to take their seats on the 11th minute in protest of the 11 years Ashley has been in charge. There is also the continued protests outside the ground before home games, and a joint protest with both Everton and Liverpool before each respective away game.
I spoke to Magpie Group chairman Wallace Wilson, who said that they will be reaching out to West Ham fan groups and fans, asking them to join them in the 11 minute walk-in, with Hammers fans having their own well publicised problems with owners in the past.
There is also the planned boycott of the televised Wolves game on December 9th, which has brought many different view points from all across the Toon Army.
The idea of a possible boycott was put to fans at open meetings the group held at Newcastle’s Labour club in September and October, with feedback being 50-50, with Mr Wilson stating “There were a large number of people who were in favour of the boycott, there was an equally large number saying we don’t want to boycott”.
The groups standpoint on continuous action that is being taken is one of needs must, however Wallace confirms “It’s not a decision which has been taken lightly in anyway, we know there are people who will disagree with it”, going on to add “Our view however is that if fans aren’t prepared to do something then nobody else will, if fans do nothing, than nothing will change”.
The group was formed after a summer of disenchantment and a collective belief that the club hierarchy did not back manager Rafa Benitez in a way to push the club forward. The belief of the group and many supporters is that the club is no longer competitive, and are happy to just survive, with the belief from the Magpie Group, the only reason this is, is to allow Mr Ashley to advertise his businesses.
The group’s chairman also added that it is possible, but not likely in his opinion that the club will back Benitez in the January transfer window. If this current course that the club finds itself on were to continue, then the group would be looking at some extreme measures, with Mr Wilson adding:
“I have no doubt in the future we will be saying to people, you should reconsider your decision whether you want to renew your season ticket” However he did add that there is a long way to go before then.
Talk of a boycott has split the fan base, with some fans stating on social media that they will still be attending the game, which has led to some infighting between Newcastle fans. Chairman Wilson said these ‘attacks’ can be very disruptive and divisive, and does not believe anyone who does go to the game should be classed as an ‘inferior fan’. However he added, “These people that don’t boycott need to be aware, the club will take their attendance as support, and that’s certainly the way they will play it in the media.”