Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Fellow genius Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct and Newcastle United Football Club, is quoted as saying “I really have negligible effect on the football side of the club.” It doesn’t take any sort of genius to see a direct observation of Mike Ashley’s running of Newcastle United as nothing short of madness.
The first Newcastle game I remember watching live at St James’ Park was a 2-1 friendly victory against Spanish side Valencia in August 2008. Despite my only major experiences of football up to that point having been frequent heavy defeats in games of PES and FIFA at the hands of my older Brother, I understand the strong sentimental value supporting a football club had on Fans. Here we are, 10 years later, and the love for club football is dying a slow painful death on Tyneside, courtesy of a Cockney “Pantomime Villain” called Mike Ashley.
To fully understand why Ashley and his Team are so reviled by a majority of Toon Supporters, one must compare the quality of Newcastle sides in the peak years of the 1990s, to the years prior and after Ashley’s takeover in 2007.
Newcastle United, founded in 1892 following the unification between Newcastle East and West, had only been relegated 4 times prior to 2007. The club was vying for national and European glory for many seasons, particularly in the era of the Entertainers and the dominance of Alan Shearer as the greatest striker in Premier League history (I swear I’m not biased, just facts). The side attracted former and future England managers to take the helm, and with infamous games over the likes of Barcelona, Liverpool, and Manchester United, Newcastle United were once a true football club.
The modern Newcastle, the team which I have grown up, contrasts so differently to the heralded and beloved Newcastle United. 2 relegations in a decade: that’s bad. 0 trophies besides twice winning the second division: that’s bad. A £17m transfer fee record: that’s somehow even worse.
Fan discontent is rising. Ridicule of the Club is rising. Surrounding competition is rising. Newcastle United is falling, and the Club many have fallen in love with may soon fade into obscurity and inescapable decline, joining the likes of Portsmouth, Wigan, Cardiff, and Blackpool: clubs arguably trapped in the middle divisions of English football. Newcastle needs more than an Alan Shearer or even the fabled (and fictional) Santiago Munez to end these dire straits. They need, quite simply, a new dedicated owner. Then, and only then, can things begin to change for the better.