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Fit and proper?

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werdermouth
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So our neighbours up the road have finally got rid of Mike Ashley following his £300m sale of the club to a Saudi Arabian investment group. This investment group is reported by the Financial Times led by the Public Investment Fund - the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Bin Salman you will recall was shown by the US intelligence agencies to have approved the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – whose body was cut to pieces with a bone saw after being lured to the Saudi consulate in Turkey in 2018.

Still, it appears this is no handicap when it comes to passing the FA's 'fit and proper person' test and it also appears is not a problem for the supporters of Newcastle, who on the announcement of the takeover danced in the streets with some even waving the Saudi flag in anticipation of them spending their millions in yet another 'sportswashing' exercise by people looking to use football to enhance their public image.

Not that many of those supporters who waved the Saudi flag will have bothered to understand the Arabic script on their flag translates as 'There is no god but Allah” and “Muhammad is the prophet of Allah" - plus the sword underneath represents 'strictness in applying justice'.

It seems all that now matters to many supporters is that those who now own their club must only have wealth beyond imagination and be willing to spend it on expensive players - it seems who the owners are or how they got their money is of little importance to anyone, whether it be those in charge of the game or those who simply want to turn a blind eye if success can be delivered!


K P in Spain
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Fit and Proper Persons Test - your having a laugh!

Steve Bruce as our next manager anyone? 😎


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Redcar Red
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Posted by: @k-p-in-spain

Fit and Proper Persons Test - your having a laugh!

Steve Bruce as our next manager anyone? 😎

I had the same feeling or queasiness!


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Martin Bellamy
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I’ve been thinking about this and wondered what we’d all think if this was the Boro and not the Toon. 
Personally, I’d be appalled, but would I stop looking for our results every week? Does any club belong to its owners, its supporters or its community? Who would be acceptable owners if SG sold up? There’s been a lot of criticism lately of the decisions SG has taken over the years so would we care who owned the shareholding if they bought success?
Is winning at any price worth it or are there just degrees of unsuitable owners? If Ladbrokes bought us would that be worse than Barclays? What if the Chinese or Russian governments funded the purchase instead of the Saudis?

I’d be really interested in where you’d draw the line of acceptability. Any thoughts? 

 

 


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Ken Smith
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I’m quite happy for Steve Gibson to remain Boro Chairman for the rest of my life, but of course I realise that may not be for very long. After that unless there is a Kingdom of Heaven I’d be past caring as long as I can rest in peace.

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by Ken Smith

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K P in Spain
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@martin-bellamy.  I suppose the difficulty with what you pose Martin is we all have differing views on what is right and wrong.  I, like you, would not continue to support or look for Boro results if I felt the ownership of the club was in the hands of someone whose values and the way they acted did not accord with my own.

For me it is not about winning at all costs, it's about upholding honesty, fairness, decency and valuing one another as equals, no matter your background, creed or colour. 

I want a club that is successful, competes fairly, values its supporters and contributes to the wider community; it makes me proud when I hear from Ken some of the things the club does behind the scenes and provided that and the club in general is being financed in the right way and not on the back of funds emanating from a source which does not value or treat everyone as equals then all well and good.

We all moan and groan about the team, the manager, the Chairman but I would not swap them for the new owners up the road at any price. 😎

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by K P in Spain

John Richardson
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@k-p-in-spain

I saw a photograph of some Newcastle supporters wearing tea towels on their heads and a bit of graffiti saying 'Halal the Lads'. I don't wish to offend anyone of any religion with that slogan but do these people think before they write or scribble? It could be a bumpy ride at St. James' Park., However I expect Mike Ashley views it as a great piece of business.

UTB,

John


werdermouth
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@martin-bellamy

Unfortunately, many supporters of football clubs have become little more than addicted hookers who are hooked on the prospect of glory and will sell themselves to anyone who promises them big bucks.

I'd be mortified if Boro was owned by people who are almost essentially gangsters and wouldn't stop at anything to get their way - including murder in Bin Salman case.

Perhaps people should ponder how many of the billionaires that now own clubs acquired such wealth - but the truth is it seems few care as the new entry level to success in football has now become a price worth paying. Most people just don't want to think about it as long as they're back at the top table.

It gives these owners a veneer of respectability as they rub shoulders among the elites as owning a football club has become nothing more than owning a 100m yacht.

At least we know the motives of Steve Gibson are genuine - he's a Boro fan who owns the club he supports - just like Jack Walker was at Blackburn but since those days it's become a completely different ball game!


jarkko
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@k-p-in-spaink-p-in-spain I agree with you. I couldn't accept a Saudi, Putin or North Korean take over at Boro. I would quit supporting and I'd wait for a change.

What is the point of supporting if the owners aren't right and proper? I won't share their values and couldn't support them in any way.

For example, there is a direct train connection from Helsinki to St. Petersburgh, I or my siblings won't travel there as long as a certain dictator is in power over there. A limit is somewhere. The city is beatiful and people nice.

I couldn't support my club if the owners were dictators or as Werder put it, murderers. Most propably I would have hated Mr Ashley as an owner but he is not (as bad) a criminal. But I have boycotted his shops since I read how he treats his workforce. 

For me Newcastle has gone from bad to terrible. I just cannot accept it. Up the Boro!

 


K P in Spain
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I see that Amanda Stavely who brokered The Newcastle deal and part owner is now seeking to get Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer involved, no doubt to try and add another layer to the veneer of respectability! 😎


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Martin Bellamy
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Some excellent comments above and it’s pleasing that many of us feel that there’s a place for decency in football ownership. If the price to pay for being in the PL is being owned by dictators, murderers, homophobes or misogynists, then I’d rather not be involved. 


Redcar Red
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I haven't held a season card at Boro since the end of Pulis and sadly I don't have any desire to change that. Pulis just about killed any enjoyment I had with watching Boro and the less I say about Woodgate's appointment the better. 

Football is selling it's soul and it's very reason for being to the devil in a race to the bottom. The hypocrisy and double standards that exist have destroyed the game that I loved whilst growing up. I can't recall the last time I watched a Premiership game from start to finish but it must be a good few years. Once upon a time I would be glued to say a Liverpool v Man Utd game, nowadays I doubt I would even know if they were playing each other until I saw a headline or news report the next day.

I fully realise that my age group is not the target market and therefore my lack of spending with Sky or BT will not dent or worry them too much. I also realise that Man City fans like the Toon army couldn't care less so long as they are top of the League (I am sure there are a minority of them who are also disillusioned with what their Clubs have become). 

The FA and England take on a once proud and great footballing Nation this coming Tuesday now sadly renowned for all the wrong reasons. Ironically for the privilege to play in a Tournament corrupt with stuffed brown envelopes in a Country openly practicing slavery made even worse that it is the deaths of those very slaves building the Stadiums that the FA and it's representatives including Gareth are desperate to play in.

I think back to the days when South Africa were outcast pariah's from the sporting communities and I wonder where the morals of todays sports people are. No doubt a few placards and politically correct messages flashed up on the electronic hoardings will absolve consciences of all complicity while surreptitiously supporting those who hate and persecute minority groups. Kicking it out or giving racism the red card, the hypocrisy makes me literally retch. 

Simply refusing to participate in a tournament or proudly walking off the pitch is too much of a gesture for the players and the FA (and other "virtuous" FA's around the world) to stomach in their various campaign structures. I guess money comes before morality.

KP  summed it up perfectly above "For me it is not about winning at all costs, it's about upholding honesty, fairness, decency and valuing one another as equals, no matter your background, creed or colour". More importantly it's about participants doing something, not printing T shirts, PC adverts, pointing at token sleeve badges or kneeling while openly competing in a tournament dripping with blood. 

As I said I doubt Sky or BT will miss my few quid nor Steve Gibson come to that but to be a Newcastle fan right now is something I couldn't begin to countenance but it's just a symbol of double standards and faux outrage.

 


PaulInBoro
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I think decency in football especially in the PL left the building long ago


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K P in Spain
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@redcarred. "I can't recall the last time I watched a Premiership game from start to finish but it must be a good few years. Once upon a time I would be glued to say a Liverpool v Man Utd game, nowadays I doubt I would even know if they were playing each other until I saw a headline or news report the next day."

You have taken the exact words out of my mouth, moreover I watch very few England matches these days having once been an avid follower both in person and via tv; the hypocrisy and lack of true values within the game have turned me off completely. 😎 

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by K P in Spain

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Powmill-Naemore
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@redcarred

Excellent post. Enough said.


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Powmill-Naemore
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We are not really the people that football in England is targeted at and I suspect that the majority of the constituency that is that target couldn't care less.


jarkko
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Posted by: @redcarred

I think back to the days when South Africa were outcast pariah's from the sporting communities and I wonder where the morals of todays sports people are. No doubt a few placards and politically correct messages flashed up on the electronic hoardings will absolve consciences of all complicity while surreptitiously supporting those who hate and persecute minority groups. Kicking it out or giving racism the red card, the hypocrisy makes me literally retch. 

******

KP  summed it up perfectly above "For me it is not about winning at all costs, it's about upholding honesty, fairness, decency and valuing one another as equals, no matter your background, creed or colour". More importantly it's about participants doing something, not printing T shirts, PC adverts, pointing at token sleeve badges or kneeling while openly competing in a tournament dripping with blood. 

Well said both RR and KP.

I do not look forward to the next World Cup. The players of the Norwegian national team have raised the issue to boycott the World Cup, and a Finnish player stepped down from the National team when they played a friend (!) match against them.

But where are the football leaders or Assossiations? Nothing has happened since the South African case. Absolutely nothing. FIFA and the Olympics are the same. Money talks when a host country is decided. Horrible.

Up the Boro! 


Pedro de Espana
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Posted by: @k-p-in-spain

For me it is not about winning at all costs, it's about upholding honesty, fairness, decency and valuing one another as equals, no matter your background, creed or colour. 

KP, as with many others on this blog, I applaud your words. However those values and other every days standards that we were all brought up with have mostly vanished. Courtesy and politeness hardly exist these days. Social media is what drives everything now and creates unimageable wealth for the few.

 

 


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Plato
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@pedro

Once one Premier club had found a money pit, it was swiftly followed by several others. Surprise, surprise, enough money and one won everything, and got praised for their foresight and talent in the market, their coach was suddenly the best, their (New )ground ditto. It seems to me that the small group who got in first decided that they could control the billions pouring into the game (with much more to follow). Hence the attempt to steal the champions league. The attempt to stop Newcastle joining them was part and parcel of this attempt. (still going on) the premiership would dearly love to stop relegation and promotion, they already control the championship, and it's income (very small). We should be asking what next? They are constantly trying to confine all the money to the group of big clubs at the top of the prem. They cannot get the votes to necessary to pull it off, but, and there is always a but. They have at the moment 8-9 London teams in the prem. Fulham were relegated with 12 loanees from London clubs, which comes under the heading of a nice try. There are several more London clubs in line so watch this space. Remember that right now any London club has 8-9 less away matches than their major challengers, we will ignore the saving in costs.        


Martin Bellamy
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Posted by: @pedro

 

KP, as with many others on this blog, I applaud your words. However those values and other every days standards that we were all brought up with have mostly vanished. Courtesy and politeness hardly exist these days. Social media is what drives everything now and creates unimageable wealth for the few.

 

 

Is that true though? Aren’t we in danger of doing what every generation does and believing that the younger generation are somehow worse than us and, in particular, are less polite and caring. Does courtesy and politeness no longer exist? I’ll bet we think our own children are polite and caring but other people’s kids aren’t. It was ever thus. 


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Redcar Red
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Posted by: @martin-bellamy
Posted by: @pedro

 

KP, as with many others on this blog, I applaud your words. However those values and other every days standards that we were all brought up with have mostly vanished. Courtesy and politeness hardly exist these days. Social media is what drives everything now and creates unimageable wealth for the few.

 

 

Is that true though? Aren’t we in danger of doing what every generation does and believing that the younger generation are somehow worse than us and, in particular, are less polite and caring. Does courtesy and politeness no longer exist? I’ll bet we think our own children are polite and caring but other people’s kids aren’t. It was ever thus. 

I have just been for a hair cut and whilst sat in the chair there a conversation was being had by three lads aged probably 18-21. The topic wasn't exactly suitable for 4.00pm on a High Street shop anywhere but they seemed totally oblivious or more likely they didn't have the intellect to even give it a thought. 

The "F" word popped up around three times per sentence and I indulged myself by wondering just how many times they could actually fit it in. If Degrees were awarded for it's use they would undoubtedly be top of the class. It got me wondering if the "F" word was a Verb or an Adverb or even an Adjective. I concluded most likely an Adverb considering their use of it but could be wrong.

I then thought if I actually asked them if they thought it was a Verb or an Adverb what their response would be and at that point I realised that they probably struggle with English as a first Language so it would be pointless and very likely thankless. Now that isn't a racist comment as judging by their complexions their "whiteness" likely went back at least ten Teesside generations but my point is that they had a slurred, mumbling, incoherent speech pattern liberally interspersed with expletives, which was clearly how they normally communicate.

To conclude I genuinely do think that the younger generation are worse than us but then again we haven't had a World War to cull what would be regarded as cannon fodder so there are quite likely far more of the above kind compared to previous generations. I'm forever pulling my own two twenty somethings up for speech and asking them to stop mumbling and speak clearly. I fear that in a few hundred years time mankind will have come full circle and have resorted to grunting sounds once more.


werdermouth
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@martin-bellamy

I think there's something in what Pedro has said but I think perhaps it's related to how individuals are influenced by social media. I would argue it has created a combination of a lot of insecure people who are no longer sure of what or who they're supposed to be - while at the same time it gives self-affirmation to a lot of views and beliefs that exist in their own particular echo chamber that in a more ecletic discourse would not be so widely approved.

For many it's now more important to get likes or approval, whether what they express is morally correct in the context of how many of us grew up learning what was acceptable behaviour in society. It creates a confused social morality where what is right is driven by which group or bubble happens to be deciding - which can often change depending on which direction the wind is blowing or should I say trending.

Though it's perhaps not necessarily an age thing as we discovered in recent years with the ramblings on Twitter of a prominent seventy-year old across the pond! Probably more to do with how strongly influenced people are by social media across all age groups.


werdermouth
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Back on the subject of the Newcastle takeover - just read this entertaining well written article in the Guardian by Barney Ronay: Newcastle’s Saudi takeover will cause faux morality of football to collapse

It perhaps speaks to those who believe like many on here that football has been morally bankrupt for some time - worth a read to get a sense of the whole delicious hypocrisy of football's willing to ignore the source of wealth in pursuit of money while at the same time publicly attempting to take a moral stance on social issues.


Ken Smith
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Apart from the moral issues some of us have written about, many of us have also become disillusioned at the inequalities of the Premier League and the race for places in the Champions League, a misnomer if ever there was one. I was excited when Manchester United became the first English club to win the European Cup by beating Benfica 4-1 after extra time in 1968 only two years after England had won the World Cup. It felt as if it might be the turning point of the dominance of England as a world force. Now I have no interest in the so called Champions League.

In November 1953 England had lost their unbeaten home record to a foreign country Hungary 3-6 and were further humiliated in Budapest the following May 1-7. Wolves were the English Champions and invited Spartak Moscow over for a friendly match at Molineux in the following November to try to restore some pride in English football and beat the Soviet team 4-0. A month later they beat the Hungarian Champions Honved  3-2 and the Guardian described Wolves as ‘Champions of the World’ as Honved had included 6 of the players in their side who had humbled England just over a year earlier. Both of those matches were televised in black and white and I was fortunate to watch them both.

Now the point of my recalling those matches is that maybe 3 or 4 English clubs might conceivably have beaten Spartak if not Honved at that time. In the first 26 seasons after the Second World War no fewer than 13 different clubs had been First Division Champions. OK Manchester United won 5 titles, Arsenal, Liverpool and Wolves 3 each, Everton, Portsmouth and Spurs 2 each, but Burnley, Chelsea, Derby, Ipswich, Leeds and Manchester City also won one each. Compare that with the first 26 years of the Premier League where only 4 clubs have won the title more than once, monopolised by Manchester United with winning half of them, Chelsea 5, Arsenal and Manchester City 3 each with single titles for Blackburn and Leicester. Of course Liverpool have since won it, but little wonder that John Nicholson wrote his book ‘Can we have our football back?’ with his observation of why the Premier League is ruining football with the vast majority’s object is just to finish 17th.


John Richardson
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@redcarred

That word seems to be everything in the analysis of a sentence. Subject, noun, verb, definitive object the lot. I believe some eminent person in academia wrote about it. However, I go back to a delivery driver I worked with on a brewery lorry back in the sixties while I was at art school in Newcastle.

If something 'broke' or wouldn't work on is terms the get out clause was, ' the effin' 'effers 'effed. 'Effin 'effer. RR there, that explains everything. God help you if he was really cross...

UTB,

John

PS I think, and I paraphrase, Mr Shearer has said there are serious questions about the buy-out but it's a great day for the City, Club and Fans. They deserve it. That covers it then, all is well.


Selwynoz
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There is a lot of indignation on the blog about NUFC and much of it is justified although I do have some sympathy with any supporter who asks why he should be forced to make a moral choice about their owners when the government of the day is perfectly happy dealing with the same people.

As a question, can I ask what the view here would be if our club was bought by

1. a reclusive foreign billionaire with no government ties

2. Ineos who own clubs and have sporting investments all over the world 

3. the Sultan of Brunei - should he be excluded and if so, how about some random relative. 

4. Mark Zuckerberg

Are any of these people inherently fit and proper or unfit and improper.

I sometimes wonder whether people are looking at this the wrong way round and, to illustrate my point, perhaps we should look at what is good about SG’s ownership of MFC. It certainly isn’t his financial stewardship or his ability to create a high level operating environment within the club but I don’t think that any of us want to see him go because of these failings. What has always been positive about MFC under SG is their commitment to the community and to equality and decency. They work to help the underprivileged across the area and appear to make every effort to install proper values through the academy programme.

What would our view be if the Newcastle consortium actually delivered on their premises to invest in the community, rebuild slices of the city and genuinely bring non-football benefits to Tyneside alongside an expensive  football team. 

Would they then be judged by their actions to be fit and proper?

I’m not raising these points because I know how to answer them but simply to elicit some comments. This is not a problem that is going to go away.

On a more positive note, has everyone seen the superb goal that Sporar scored for Slovenia. It would be doubly ironic if we had an international quality striker who never scores for Boro.

Take care everyone

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by Selwynoz

werdermouth
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@selwynoz

You should really ask the question as to why a billionaire with no ties to the area is interested in buying the football club - it certainly wouldn't be to make money as few clubs do. Is it then simply an act of altruism? Unlikely. What these billionaires mainly want is credibility to enhance their public reputation - or 'sportswashing' as its known - plus the opportunity to rub shoulders with other elites.

The money from the Saudi group comes from a fund that is controlled by Bin Salman, who sanction the gruesome murder of a journalist who was critical of him. Should Newcastle fans not have to worry about that because the UK government also turns a blind eye because it depends on jobs in the arms industry? 

As for other billionaire candidates - well the Sultan of Brunei is an absolute monarch who rules the kingdom and two years ago he introduced legislation in accordance with Sharia law that punished homosexuality and adultery with the death penalty. That may be inconvenient the next time the players wear their rainbow laces in support of LGBT rights.

Mark Zuckerberg as far as I'm aware hasn't sanctioned any harm to individuals and is a known philanthropist who joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in pledging to donate half of their wealth during their lifetime. Whether Boro would fall into his charitable sphere is not known as I'm not sure if he's into 'soccer' - though I did note he donated a large sum to a social media group called 'Diaspora' - so I live in hope of a typo-induced donation one day at Diasboro 🙂

I guess it's a question of whether people are bothered where the money comes from just as long as they get it. Will those in Newcastle who get investment in their club and city be ultimately bothered? Possibly not but should we then forget about the bad deeds these billionaires did because they're now doing the 'right' thing in our backyard? Well that's what they're hoping will happen otherwise they wouldn't be bothering.


werdermouth
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Here's former Newcastle player Rob Lee's view on the Saudi connection...

What do I think of the owners being a Saudi Arabian-led consortium and that country’s human rights record? There are people owning clubs who I presume have done many things we don’t know about. I’m not going to mention names but we all know people who own clubs are not always squeaky clean. And I don’t know how much involvement the Saudi government have anyway – none of us will know what involvement they’ll have with the football club and the financial side of it. I don’t really get involved with this side of things but I do see a lot of, if you like, countries buying clubs – are they all squeaky clean?

So basically he's essentially saying let's just ignore that part as they're no worse than some of the owners of other clubs - though in what context has the charge of murder ever been equated to not being "squeaky clean". His main point is that the Newcastle supporters deserve success after all they've put up with under Mike Ashley.

Anyway, as usual it probably won't even be news in a couple of weeks and once the new manager is appointed (Antonio Conte?) and the January transfer speculation starts in the tabloids, football hype will enter overdrive as everyone gets drunk on the expectation of mega success...


jarkko
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I won't ever forget who owns Newcastle United. But I agree that the UK press will forget in a fortnight.  How I dream about the time when the UK press was the envy of the World. Now the are mostly litterally rubbish.

The free press should never stop criticize some of the owners in football. The owners are there for a reason as Werder said above if they are not local. 

Sir Gibson is our king. Up the Boro!

This post was modified 3 weeks ago by jarkko

Ken Smith
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Just to show that non-league football in the Northeast is still alive I’ve just been reviewing the average attendances of some of our local clubs. For example Stockton Town despite having a poor start to this season lead the field in the Northern Premier League Division 1 with an average attendance of 552 with a high of 640,  whilst Marske United who are having a successful season in the league are averaging 417 with a season’s high of 450.  In the Northern League Redcar Athletic had a record attendance of 465 for the visit of Billingham Town last night. Now these attendances might sound low, but they exceed 6 of the Scottish League Division 2 clubs where football is the national sport. And also 10 years ago not one club in both Divisions of the Northern League had an average attendance of more than 150.


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