To Boycott Or Not To Boycott – That Is The Question

Stan Collymore in the Mirror and Barry Glendenning in the Guardian have both raised the prospect of a St James Park boycott by Newcastle fans.

While Collymore’s article is a call to arms so to speak for the Toon Army to boycott home games as away to force Mike Ashley from the club, Glendenning takes a more measured approach while coming to the conclusion that a boycott would never happen at Newcastle.

Stan Collymore, the former Nottingham Forrest and Liverpool striker, will immediately garner praise from Newcastle fans in his conclusion that Mike Ashley is enacting his vengeance against Newcastle’s fanbase.

Collymore writes:

It’s my belief that this is payback time. It is like Ashley is ­trolling Newcastle’s fans, showing them that he can do whatever he wants with their club because it is his name above the door. They now have to fight fire with fire

How does Stan suggest that Newcastle fans fight Mike Ashley’s fire with fire of their own? He urges fans to boycott the club they love in order to force Mike Ashley from Newcastle through a mixture of financial loss and embarrassment.

Stan continues:

But if Newcastle’s supporters really want to kick Ashley out of St James’ Park then they have got to get organised – and they must get militant.

I’m not talking about physical threats. The Geordies have to hit Ashley hard in the only place he feels pain – in the pocket.

That means costing him money and forcing him to lose so much face in the world of business that he is left with no option but to sell up. They must boycott the club they love.

Could you imagine a game against Liverpool or Manchester United being played in front of an empty St James’ Park? Or fans walking out en-masse after 65 minutes of a game against Arsenal?

It would be on the front and back pages of every newspaper in the country. TV news channels would be all over it like a coat of paint.

Boycotting St James Park is something that is anathema to many Newcastle United supporters while it is a strategy that others have already undertaken. The question is whether this can ever be accomplished and if it would have the desired effect.

Stan Colleymore closes his article with this thought:

Right now, Ashley is quite literally ­banking on the loyalty of Newcastle’s fans. He knows that 52,000 ­supporters will turn up every week to worship at the cathedral on the hill.

This is very true but Stan Colleymore seems to believe that this time that loyalty can be put on hold for the greater good of removing Mike Ashley from the club. It also raises the question of whether it is more loyal to continue to turn up to a game with Mike Ashley in charge or to boycott in the hope of engineering his removal.

This is where we pick up with what Barry Glendenning writes in his piece in the Guardian. Barry writes:

It is no secret that the lot of Newcastle fans has been a largely unhappy one for the vast majority of the dozen years since the billionaire owner of Sports Direct bought the club. Understandably weary of seeing the venerable institution they love so much stuck in a state of almost total moribundity, they have staged protests – however well-intentioned but useless – before.

Barry’s article is partly in response to AshleyOut.com’s calling for all fans to boycott as he lays out the past attempts to do so which have failed due to low participation. While he commends their efforts, based on past evidence he does not believe they can accomplish their goal.

He concludes his article with these words:

“If you choose to turn up to St James’ Park while Ashley owns the club you are welcome to do so,” added AshleyOut.com in its manifesto and there will undoubtedly be no shortage of fans who find the thought of not attending their team’s matches unbearable as they feel it is they and the players who will suffer, rather than the Ashley regime. Despite their understandable reservations, in a one-club city with the Premier League’s seventh highest average attendance, the sight of more than 50,000 empty seats on match days would constitute one hell of a statement. It is one that is unlikely to be made.

The duality of the Newcastle faithful – to support the team and not the regime, or to boycott the games in the hopes of achieving a greater good. Both are commendable in their own respects and are individual choices to be made.

We hope that Newcastle United fans can become unified in one voice, a voice which can ultimately reclaim the club from Mike Ashley.

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