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WATM flagNewcastle United fans are up in arms at the club’s decision to ban local papers from games. Fans’ anger was compounded when it later emerged the club were banning Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust (NUST) from the newly-formed Fans Forum. NUST are a democratic fans’ group affiliated to the FSF and you can read their take on that here.

The FSF shares fans’ concerns at these developments. The Fans Forum appeared to be a good step forward and extra dialogue is always to be encouraged. Sadly it has become another area of friction between the club and its fans, the exact opposite of what was intended by fans who gave up their time to get involved. The FSF supports all efforts of fans at St James’ Park and we’re sure there’s more to come on this story, watch this space.

Below, Michael Martin of Newcastle United fanzine True Faith gives his take on the events of the past couple of weeks…

Despite True Faith having taken the p**s, derided, lambasted and guffawed at some of the coverage of Newcastle United as provided by the local media, notably those from the Thomson House stable, I was flabbergasted to hear the club (AKA Mike Ashley) had banned The Chronicle, The Journal and the Sunday Sun from the press box, training ground and whatever else.

The reason for this is, apparently, the club’s (AKA Ashley’s) unhappiness with The Chronicle’s reportage of the Time 4 Change protest march prior to the Liverpool game. Who knows if he had a point or not but the simple truth is Ashley’s response is absolutely, completely and disgracefully disproportionate in any event.

Not satisfied with banning three local newspapers, (hardly known for their investigative zeal, I’d suggest), the club (AKA Ashley) has now decided to ban NUST from the Newcastle United Fans Forum. The reason is laughable but basically involves some unhappiness at how quickly the Trust got its report of the meeting online afterwards whilst Newcastle United trailed in late.

At best there is a minor disagreement over protocol but I’d suspect certain individuals (possibly Finance Director John Irving) feeling a little bit roughed up because the stretching questions he faced from the NUST’s man on the spot, Peter Fanning.

NUST did the right thing, no-one seriously wants to listen to bulls**t about how hot the pies are or other assorted trivia but it’s clear the questions posed by the Trust stretched them a bit too far and the toys have come out the pram. Pathetic.

Now is probably the time to let on that my suggestion he sit in on Forum meetings as an observer, initially accepted as a good idea by Lee Marshall, the hard-pressed and likeable Fans Liason Officer was withdrawn in the run-up to the first forum. Make of that what you will.

Blandishments at the time the Forum was being set up that NUFC wanted to deal with the hard questions have now been painfully, brutally exposed. The Fans Forum is now absolutely dead in the water. A pointless talking shop that will achieve absolutely nothing. STOP PRESS – we hear there have been two resignations from the Forum even before the news of the NUST being forced into internal exile. If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.

The response from supporters has been unequivocally one of outrage at the behaviour of Ashley who is turning our club more into a Banana Republic by the day. Previously there has been a feeling Ashley isn’t bothered by protests and criticism but, quite clearly what we see here are the actions of a thin-skinned bully, well-used to having sycophants around him telling him he’s great and agreeing with his every word.

Some would reckon Ashley is a genius given the fortune he has amassed with his businesses (if you like admiring people who have employees working with the worst possible terms of zero hour contracts and no sick or holiday pay as a means of amassing more wealth than you could ever need) but when it comes to providing leadership and vision for our football club the man is a complete fanny*. The sooner he does one, so much the better.

Support the Time 4 Change campaign.

*For those not familiar with the intricacies of north east language the FSF consulted (the online dictionary of UK slang and colloquialisms) and can confirm it’s a verb which means “to mess around, or waste time”.

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed on this blog are those of the author – they don’t necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to the FSF. Have your say below and play nice…

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