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My views on boycotting and influences on social media

This article may cause some controversy but it is my opinion and as always, you don't have to agree with me.

Fans have been understandably calling for people to boycott the Arsenal game on 11 August. With the game being picked for Sky, this was probably inevitable following Rafa Benitez's departure although if BZG were to complete a takeover, it would surely be cancelled. I will always respect every football fan's decision on whether to go to games or not but in my opinion, it is completely wrong to tell fans whether they go or not.

I can completely understand the aims of fan protests against bad owners but telling fans they can't go to games is completely childish and I believe these 'fans' are trying to act like their opinions matter more than anyone's when in reality, having 100k+ followers or getting over 50 likes/retweets for a tweet on Twitter will never make your opinion more relevant than anyone else's. It is probably easier to tell fans of a sports club to boycott games when you don't even go but when you go regularly, it is always going to be a lot harder to miss a home game.

Before the club confirmed Rafa's departure, stuff on social media was already getting me stressed out and since hearing about it, I've hardly ever been checking up on my Twitter timeline (I've only checked up on tweets from people I have tweet notifications on for and people in lists I've created) and I've only been on Facebook to wish a happy birthday to my friends, share certain things etc because I just couldn't bare to see what people were saying. Whilst people are allowed their opinions, a lot of them are just making me (maybe the fact I have autism contributes to this) and probably other fans feel like they can't go to games or have their own opinions etc, I've blocked these 'fans' on Facebook and God knows how many I'd have blocked by now had I been on it as regularly as usual.

What disgusts me more than 'fans' telling people not to go to games is idiots claiming this is no longer our club or claiming that Ashley will never leave us. Any true football fan knows a club belongs to it's supporters and they will be their long after any owner, director, chairman, manager, coach or player, hence why I feel for the true fans more than anyone when a club is in this situation, if you think it's no longer our club, I guess we can't celebrate when we win games. The point about fans being their long after anyone else is because a true fan supports their club for life (supporting other clubs on top of NUFC is fine) whereas there's no way on this planet that Mike Ashley can live forever, let alone be here forever. Now you may argue that by that logic that no fan can be alive to support their club forever (which is true) but we will always see new fans coming to games for the first time so it'll be the same passionate Toon Army cheering their team on.

If Ashley's still here when we play Arsenal, it's your choice on whether you want to go or not. I will still be going although if we're getting hammered and the atmosphere's bad, I'll probably leave the ground and watch the remainder of the game in the Strawberry. We could of course end up with a squad of players not trying (which would motivate more people to boycott) but in my opinion, our current squad need and deserve our support.

An example of how I would probably go about protesting is what Gateshead fans did towards the end of the last season, they supported their hard working team but also protested before, during and after games. Whilst fans insisted on staying away if their toxic owners remained at the club, plans for a phoenix club were announced as there was talk of relocating the club and possibly liquidation, now both are far worse than any relegation or loss of a vital asset. Due to financial irregularities, the club were demoted to the National League North despite finishing an impressive 9th and only 8 points off the play-offs (before a 9 point deduction after the season ended) but it could've been a whole lot worse had the club not been sold to a supporters group on 30 May.

As bad as losing any asset as vital as Rafa Benitez can be, you can recover and rebuild but liquidation means you've lost your club for good and will have create a phoenix club (like North Ferriby have recently done) to keep football going in your town. Relocating a club to another town (like Wimbledon to Milton Keynes) also means there's no football in the town and again, a phoenix club would have to be created to keep it going.

The reason people support their hometown club is so they can go to matches and when you're an underdog, winning game tastes so much sweeter, if we became the biggest force in England whilst Chelsea, for example, became a mid table Premier League club or worse, it would be awkward for the youngsters up here who supported them because they were the best team in the country when they got into football. If I decided to support someone far bigger than us when I was a kid, I might have been able to enjoy trophies etc but it wouldn't have felt the same watching from home and only going to see them a few times a year. Any sports fan who chooses their local team over the biggest clubs in the country would expect to at least be able to see them play live if they're not going to be able to celebrate trophies and if you go through the bad times like any true fan, the good times will feel sweeter. Meanwhile, watching highlights of good games from over the years feel a lot better when I was at the game (hence why I preferred the 2016/17 season over the 2009/10 and 2011/12 seasons) and I'm sure many people can relate.

In conclusion, everyone should make their choice and their choice only on whether to go to games and whether to take part in protests. Not going is nowhere near as easy when you go regularly and my matchdays don't just involve the match, it's also a perfect opportunity to get out the house and making your day a good one. It's probably a lot easier to miss games when you have a partner or kids but you have a lot more time you can spent with them than you can at football matches. As Keegan said, don't give up, keep supporting your club and one day, you will get it back.

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