In a breezy chat with Roger Lajoie on FAN590 yesterday, I happened to mention I was intrigued by today’s Newcastle-Liverpool match.
On the one hand, Liverpool have been at or near the top of the English Premier League all season, showing soaring creativity at points, and coming up with enough effective straight graft to win when the inspiration flags. The nagging question – to everyone except their fans: do the Reds really belong at this altitude?
And, in the other corner, a Newcastle side whose footballing future is so vague and fuzzy, it’s as though their famous black and white stripes have melted into various shades of blotchy, shapeless gray. They pancaked coming off the runway, but have been better in recent times. Do they really belong at their present altitude?
The final verdict from St. James’s Park – Newcastle 1, Liverpool 5.
Crunching, comprehensive misery, on the morning that locally hated ‘Toon owner Mike Ashley announces he is not getting his price, and no longer intends to sell the team.
Seen by Newcastle fans as a clueless, classless cockney, Ashley comprehensively lost the supporters when he was filmed chugging pints while his team was battered blind and sideways at Arsenal. Then manager Kevin Keegan quit, then the fans went into public revolt, then Ashley said he was getting out – as long as anyone met his exorbitant 481-million-pound price.
It’s a long, bad day to be a Newcastle United fan.
Two words, children: Ebbsfleet United.
How does the 13th-place team in the English fifth division enter into a holiday-season discussion of the megabucks world of the EPL? Can you hear a young John Lennon singing “You say you want a revolution?”
Ebbsfleet are that cute little team that got taken over by its fans. Through an ongoing Internet effort, each and any of us can be co-owners of Ebbsfleet by nightfall. Last spring, they were off to Wembley, where they packed in 25,000 supporters (!!) and saw off Torquay United 1-0 to pocket the coveted non-league FA Trophy. And they’re not all that far away from promotion to the League, if they can hold course and continue their improvement.
So – what if Newcastle United fans put their money where their mutiny is?
A quarter-billion quid (which apparently breaks Ashley even), divided 100,000 ways, is 2500 pounds sterling per fan. Yes, it’s a huge ask. But there are wealthy ‘Toon fans out there who could contribute much more, and if you made it a global on-line effort, there must be hundreds of thousands of frustrated Magpie loons who might admire to pony up some dough.
It’s not like the team is an automatic money loser. TV deals alone guarantee huge revenue streams for anyone lucky enough to own an EPL team.
There have been mild rumblings about this on the ‘net, but I’d wager takeover talk is up to a rolling boil in the pubs of Tyneside tonight. And today’s collective clattering at the feet of top-club Liverpool won’t ease the pressure in the slightest. Owner Ashley could not have picked a less-favourable day to tell fevered, seething fans who hate him that he isn’t going anywhere.
On the field, by the way, this team can be a lot of fun. Goalkeeper Shay Given was brilliant in the early going today, but had no chance later as Liverpool continually overwhelmed his soggy, sagging defence. Newcastle’s goal, on the stroke of halftime, was headed home deftly by Canadian youngster David Edgar.
As of today, Newcastle United fans are in a state of open warfare with an owner they utterly loathe. There will be lessons for all of us in whatever they decide to do … next.