Fans hit out at Magpies board

Mark Jensen, editor of fanzine The Mag, insists owner Mike Ashley

and managing director Derek Llambias should have been building on

the feelgood factor established by an 11-game unbeaten start to the

Premier League season, which has left the Magpies sitting in third

place in the table, rather than dropping the bombshell they did

early this morning. He said: “What the club has done just

reinforces what everyone has thought about them, that no matter

what strides the likes of Alan Pardew and the players might take on

the pitch, there is always something from above that undermines

everything. “It’s no coincidence that they have performed a typical

politician’s trick and waited until things are going well to slip

in something like this on the back of a cut-price season ticket

deal which has filled the empty seats. It’s quite cynical. “It

showed when Keegan was here the first time as a manager that when

you start a bandwagon rolling at Newcastle like he did, it’s a

pretty powerful force. “They should have been spending these two

weeks really reinforcing the feelgood factor.” Llambias has

insisted selling the naming rights is essential if the club is to

maximise its potential revenue streams in a tough financial

climate. However, Jensen is not convinced the proposal will do

that. He said: “Unfortunately, the writing is on the wall. The

shirt deal is up at the end of the season and I don’t think anybody

would be surprised if we ended up with the ground as the Sports

Direct Arena and Sports Direct as the shirt sponsor. “As it stands

today, this announcement has brought no extra money into the club,

but they have seriously annoyed a large proportion of their fan

base. “Maybe now people who were thinking of buying a shirt or

whatever from the club shop will think, ‘Right, I’m not doing

that’. “Certainly in the short-term, the only person who is

benefiting is Mike Ashley and Sports Direct. “They are claiming

this will help to attract a sponsor – I just don’t buy that because

with what’s gone on in the past, Newcastle United and the Sports

Direct brand is a mixture that does not send a positive message.

“Every club which has had its ground named after a sponsor tends to

be a new ground, or in Manchester City’s case, it’s going to bring

in massive amounts of money. “This seems to me to be all stick and

no carrot.” Newcastle do not play at home again until Chelsea

arrive on Tyneside on December 3, and while Jensen is expecting the

fans to support Pardew and his players as fervently as ever, the

mood is likely to be ugly. He said: “People will continue to

support the players on the pitch as they have always done no matter

what the circumstances. “But this will just reinforce the belief

that Mike Ashley isn’t running the club for all the right reasons.

“It’s a very strange way to run a big business which happens to be

a football club. I think there are much better ways of maximising

the potential revenue than turning their fan-base against them.”