true faith - Newcastle United Fanzine (TF121)

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ISSUE 121

14/15

NEWCASTLE UNITED FANZINE - THE ALTERNATIVE VIEW - 2014/15 SEASON

WAITING FOR THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD


E-MAIL: editor@true-faith.co.uk WEBSITE: www.true-faith.co.uk EDITOR: Michael Martin DEPUTY EDITOR: Gareth Harrison ART & DESIGN: Glenn Ashcroft & Michael Martin ILLUSTRATIONS: Marc Jennings marcjennings.co.uk PHOTOGRAPHY: Matt Flynn, Colin Ferguson & Carl Haynes PROOFREADING - Neil Huitson

Editorial.................................................... pg4

What comes next............................... pg60

TBAWE...................................................... pg6

I am legend........................................... pg63

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss........................... pg11

Geordie here, Geordies there.......... pg68

Season Review....................................... pg14

The Real Spain..................................... pg72 Supermac.............................................. pg77

Ryan Taylor - Over and Out.............. pg22

Football politics................................... pg85

Output Control...................................... pg25

Disappointment.................................. pg88

New Gold Dream.................................. pg27

Made in China...................................... pg92

WEBSITE: Glenn Ashcroft & Michael Martin COPYRIGHT: All items(c) true faith. Not to be reproduced without the prior permission of true faith. STATEMENT: This is NOT an official product of Newcastle United FC. NOTICE: All views expressed are the views of the author and do not always represent the views of true faith. CONTRIBUTIONS: All contributions to true faith are welcomed, encouraged and considered for publication - letters, articles, photos etc.

Manifesto................................................. pg31

Feel every beat.................................... pg99

Power, corruption and lies................. pg34

The Medici files................................... pg101

Show us the money............................. pg39

Fifa - a short history of scandal.... pg116

The people v Mike Ashley.................. pg43

Money shots......................................... pg122

NEVER FORGOTTEN: L.J. & M. Martin.

Letter to Scudamore............................ pg46

Postcards from the edge.................. pg136

NEXT ISSUE: TF 122

He’s the keeper...................................... pg47

The secret diary of Lee Ryder......... pg138

From Manchester with Love............. pg50

60 second season............................... pg144

Garbo talks.............................................. pg56

The End................................................... pg148

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OUT: SEE WEBSITE/TWITTER SUBMISSIONS FOR NEXT ISSUE: SEE WEBSITE/TWITTER © true faith. tf 2


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editorial

Welcome to tf 121. Just before the last game of the season v. West Ham at St James’ Park we were all astonished to see Mike Ashley appear before SKY TV cameras opining on matters of a B&W nature. God bless him, he even put a shirt and club tie on and if I’m not mistaken had a shave and a good wash. I felt honoured. Although the interview was stagemanaged within an inch of its life with the paw prints of Ashley’s PR apparatchiks all over it and the interviewer having some mutual business www.true-faith.co.uk

links to our loathed owner it was important. What we got from Ashley was a clear statement that he accepted culpability for the wheels coming off the Newcastle United wagon and a clear intention to put it right. Shortly after the end of the season Carver and Stone were down the road and after some bizarre links with Viera, Laudrup and other assorted exotica we got the man who has long been on Graeme Carr’s speed-dial and too no-one’s great surprise Steve McClaren was

tf 121 July 2015 editor@true-faith.co.uk

appointed as Head Coach to not much enthusiasm from the United cognoscenti. Nevertheless given Ashley’s appearance before the cameras many felt a flicker of renewed optimism that something was going to change for the better. I’m tying this up on 28/ Jun/15 and to date the only transfer activity we have been involved in has been the graceless end of the careers of Jonas Gutierrez and Ryan Taylor at United together with a bundle of other fringe players. Since January,

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@tfeditor1892

we’ve lost Hatem Ben Arfa, Santon and Mbwia. These are all players with first team pedigree. Now the most likely next movement of players could be the departures of Cisse and Tiote with Sissoko and Krul also attracting news-lines regarding their futures. As ever, it appears to be Groundhog Day with our supposed transfer targets. Reading between the lines the bids Charnley/Carr are making for players are falling way below valuations. Same as it ever was. tf 4


editorial Writing stuff like this during the close season is risky because by the time this drops into your in-box there is a strong possibility my prose here is confirmed as being completely way off beam. I can squirm at that as a fanzine editor but as a straightforward supporter I’d be delighted to see the club reshaping its first team squad to be in a position to achieve the targets Ashley set for it in front of SKY’s cameras i.e. top ten of the PL and giving the Cups a great go. Right now, with no coaching team actually appointed the week before the players return for prewww.true-faith.co.uk

season training (although rumoured to be sorted this coming week) and no new players signed, this dawn of a hoped-for new era looks remarkably like what we’ve had for years under Mike Ashley. Interestingly, Ashley made the point he was stepping back from the “board”. I laughed at that one. If anyone imagines Ashley is relinquishing control of the finances at Newcastle United then they are sadly deluded. That board of Charnley, Carr, McClaren and Moncur is not worthy of the description. As I understand it neither John Irving (Finance Director) nor his understudy who left for Man City have been replaced as yet. That

would tend to indicate that financial matters are no longer managed from SJP but at Shirebrook, Sports Direct’s HQ. It’s a rum state of affairs United hasn’t yet replaced key staff at the club though not surprising given the glacial pace at which does everything else. This group – aka the Gang of Four isn’t a board really and Ashley will still be the one who authorises every penny spent at United. Currently he’s not authorising very much. Carr is a scout, Charnley is notionally in charge, McClaren takes training and Moncur is a telesalesman. So, what brought Ashley blinking in front of the

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cameras? It’s quite simple really - the club has lost a swathe of its support. Many lifelong supporters have become disaffected, alienated and bitter at how our great club is being operated by Ashley and the inadequates he has appointed. Everyone at United got a shock at how many joined the Spurs (h) boycott and subsequent home games leading up to the West Ham match. Given the elastic nature of season ticket renewals it seems threats to cancel Direct Debits have been carried through and I imagine United will have the smallest number of season ticket holders next season for the first time since SJP was extended. Indeed the desperation to put bums on seats has led to many offers which have undermined the value of owning a ST. After many years of taking the support for granted, Ashley is in the position of having to back up his words with deeds. New era at United? Exciting times ahead Mr Moncur? Prove it. We all hope you enjoy this issue, thanks for continuing to support us. See you next season. Keep On, Keepin’ On…

Follow Michael on twitter

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thru black & white eyes May 17 - Shambolic, cowardly, pathetic and clueless. That was just the team selection ahead of United’s 2 1 defeat at Premier League whipping boys and already First Division bound Queen Park Rangers. John Carver actually did it. He played the same awful formation away from home that hasn’t worked for Pardew in 18 months and didn’t work at Sunderland or Leicester away. It didn’t work at home to West Brom and it didn’t work at home to Spurs, Arsenal or away at Everton. WHY JOHN?

lot. Make no mistake, QPR, beaten 6 last week at City, would have been beaten 7 or 8 today by any semblance of a football team. Their first half performance was even worse than our second. And we were rank. Riviere scored by accident after some ‘helpful’ QPR defending and you know the rest. Ryan Taylor put in one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen against West Brom, but once again was picked. How? Why? The West Ham game is now massive. No time for boycott’s or ought like that. SJP needs to be radged up.

The game itself was a fantastic example of why this team should be relegated. The only saving grace is that Hull will PROBABLY save us. By all accounts they were canny at Spurs and put a far superior performance in than we did against this

A win would have guaranteed safety. We couldn’t even threaten a draw.

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May 18 - John Carver has ‘come under fire’ from mags (allegedly) for going to a charity golf day rather than going to work ahead

of the clubs biggest game in 6 years. I don’t really know anyone who was actually angry about this as anyone in the know is aware that Carver can only do any damage to the team’s chances ahead of the West Ham game. Carver reckons that two years ago he and Pardew pied the same event because of our close shave in 2013 and the club picked up critiscm so ‘you can’t win’ according to the head coach. I’m not sure about that. How about as way of apology for not attending as promised, the club offer to double all of the money raised on the day, or something. Either way John Carver being pictured jovially joking, laughing and smiling by TV camera’s instead of analysing the absolute shambles at QPR, sticks in mag throats more than where he is or what he was doing.

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May 19 - News breaks that John Irving is to leave Newcastle United for a position at Newcastle Airport. Irving was a board member alongside Ashley and Charnley and his decision to leave, leaked before such a vital game, is odd. I’ve no idea about his ability in his job but it seems to say more of what those who work under Ashley think about his employment than anything else. Pardew and Irving have jumped at the first chance. Make of that what you will. May 20 - Those of you who’ve listened to the Weekly Podcast, the radio show or read this part of the fanzine for a while will know I don’t care much for John Carver or what he says. So it will come us no surprise that I’ve applied for a gagging order on the head coach so I

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thru black & white eyes never have to listen to him talk the media again. He might be a really nice bloke. He might care about the club more than his own career (he doesn’t) but the bloke just comes out with more shit than his former boss now at Palace, and I thought that impossible. Today it’s a meeting about people losing jobs. An emergency meeting. So that’s Monday and Tuesday he’s given everyone off and Wednesday morning was this meeting. What’s the actual plan for beating West Ham John? Play 4 2 3 1 and hope? Stop fucking talking to sky and win us a football match. Also many mags suffer through Arsenal 0 SAFC 0 whichconfirmsSunderland’s survival for a third year in a row when finishing with less than 40 points. Quite an achievement in itself. Three seasons in a row NUFC

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have single handidley kept them up. It’ll be Ashley’s legacy. May 21 - Social Media FURY as PARDEW CLAIMS TOON FANS WISH HE’D NEVER LEFT according to the Daily Star. Number of times Pardew actually says that in the interview and the article……zero. Pardew man! Also Sam Allardyce, close to the boot at West Ham wants to send United down for the sake of his mate Steve Bruce. Two of the greatest frauds in football history, hopefully gone from the premier league forever. May 23 - The day before the match. It’s awful. Why aren’t the games being played on a bloody Saturday man! May 24 - Well then. It all turned out okay in the end. United actually ended up

finishing 15th. FIFTEENTH! Above the mackems and Vile ha! I think that’s 5 seasons in a row we’ve finished above them. I wonder if TF are releasing a collection of t-shirt’s to mark the occasion... Before the game hell actually froze over/pigs flew/Mike Williamson put in a performance like a top level player and Mike Ashley spoke to his pal David Craig live on Sky. The contents of the interview are well published, much discussed and don’t need re-hashed here. Whatever happens the fact the man at the top felt compelled to address ‘us’ when he has refused to appear in Parliament and the Scottish FA when summoned, is telling. Boycott’s, chucked season tickets and media pressures have started to make an impact.

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The match itself was actually hugely enjoyable. Well, the second half anyway. I still can’t talk writing this a day later…. what an atmosphere…why don’t people turn up like that every week? Anyway Jonas was unreal…it was almost as if picking him in his actual position (for the first time this season) brought the best out of him. Vernon Anita was exceptional. That said West Ham were a disgrace to the league and their 3k travelling fans deserved better. Allardyce sacked on the final whistle. Beautiful. Say we’d been facing a Swansea or an Everton last day of the season, the result could have been far different. I hung about after the final whistle for the sit in protest for about 40 minutes. There were probably around 4/500

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thru black & white eyes of us and a ‘dafty’ element accounted for a good few as well who seemed intent on screaming abuse at stewards. Its easy slating Ashley, the club, the players on social media isn’t it? I reckon for every 100 that “backed” the idea on twitter of the sit in – one took part. The amount of mags with thousands of followers, all retweeting each other and patting each other on the back with their personal attacks on the owner, his character, his weight and using foul language to do so, makes me sick. “I fucking hate Ashley, he’s a fat cunt and he’s ruined my club and my life but no way am I missing the end of happy hour at Maddison’s”. There’s a dignity taking a stand against something as immoral as Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United. People take action in different ways. I don’t want to chuck

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my ST, maybe I don’t care enough but I’ll not criticise anyone else’s decision to not go back or take any sort of action. What sticks in my throat is those shouting loudest, judging and sneering at others as much as possible, are the people who ENCOURAGE Mike Ashley to do what he’s doing. Saying you’re going to form part of a sit in protest and then fucking off to the pub because the team scraped a win over the worst side in the league (on current form) sends the message that the fan base is all mouth and no action. Mike Ashley can sit easy at the information being fed his way by those who work for him. Actions speak louder than words. I’m no affiliated with Ashley Out nor do I like much of what they do – but they’re spreading the message that CHANGE is essential at

Newcastle United which I whole heartedly support. The lack of people stopping back after the match after it being hyped up as much was hugely disappointing and will send a message that 10th on a shoe string is okay. It isn’t. We’d have probably managed that if Pardew stayed in charge. However screaming like a child that you want ‘Ashley Out’ and then doing one at the final whistle because we won and you want to get back on twitter to tweet Jonas how class he was (despite calling him a cunt for 4 years) means you probably have the owner you deserve. May 25 - Carver still wants the job. Shoot me. There’s no way he and Stone can stay. Too many players blamed. Charnley needs to do the right thing and grab hold of the momentum gained from Sunday and

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appoint a new man quickly. May 27 - The Mirror appear to be doing a lot of NUFC recently, another exclusive here about big Moussa apparently not interested in the Champions League and ready to take NUFC to the next level. I’m not sure what’s more unbelievable, that Sissoko would stay up here in lieu of a pay rise to move to London and compete at the highest level, or that Sissoko is quoted in the article as “everybody knows we are a good team”. Good at what Moussa? Bottling stuff? May 29 - Still no manager. Jonas Gutierrez is released from NUFC alongside Ryan Taylor to no one’s surprise. He parts with a shot at Ashley, Charnley and probably Pardew after they allegedly tried to flog him when they found out he was ill. A proper Newcastle

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thru black & white eyes United hero, many love Jonas for the way he fought back from illness to save us from the drop. Hero. However there’s been some revisionism in recent months. In my opinion Jonas Gutierrez should be given a new deal as he’s still one of the team’s best players. His partnerships with Jose Enrique and Davide Santon elevated those two players to heights they’ve failed to reach since. He rarely gave the ball away, won more free kicks than any other player in the league during his stay with the club and was a thorn in opposition side. Yes his delivery wasn’t great but he was a genuine £10m player. You don’t win 22 caps for Argentina without being a top player. The fury at him being let go (he is 31 – I’d have offered him a two year deal) stinks of populist revisionism. You don’t have to have loved

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Jonas as a player to be inspired by his story, but yet again it’s the loudest people I know in person and on social media calling for Ashley’s head for not giving a player they berated and slated at games for 4 years when he made the bulk of his NUFC appearances. Get a grip. So long Jonas Gutierrez, you’ll be missed. May 30 - Hang on. Paddy Viera is now odds on to get the United job. He’d represent a fresh start and seems exactly the character to demand success, on and off the pitch. Fingers crossed. June 1 - Viera talks have ‘broken down’. Bastards. June 3rd Papisse Cisse has made front page news of the Sun with ‘revelations’ about his private life. Who buys The Sun?

June 5 - A lot of rumours flying about on Charlie Austin heading to NE1. 18 Premier League goals in a rank Premier League side. It’s like he’s imitating Alan Shearer’s NUFC career already. Get him signed. June 7 - The smart money seems to be on Steve McClaren being NUFC boss from next season. Many papers are saying it’s a done deal. While I’m delighted John Carver won’t be manager, I’m not sure McClaren will be able to implement any of his lauded training techniques with Carver and Stone still around. The devil will be in the detail. June 9 - FFS Cabaye’s off to Palace allegedly. He’s 30 but I just can’t help feel he’d be an improvement on Ryan Taylor in midfield. Then again he’s probably agitate for a move to Arsenal if he

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started playing well. Funny how his, Debuchy, Demba Ba and Loic Remy have all undoubtedly regressed since leaving United. Mental to think that we started the away defeat at Sunderland in 2013 with Krul, Santon, Debuchy, Cabaye, Tiote, Sissoko, Remy and Ben Arfa. Not a bad team that, in the right hands. In other news John Carver and Steve Stone have been sacked by United – Carver pocketing an alleged £1 million in compensation. You’ll find no outrage from me on the sum. He’s been paid the going rate in the industry he’s in. There are many that will wish him good luck and consign him to the history books as a man promoted above his means who did what he could. I take a different view, but he’s gone so need to revisit former

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thru black & white eyes gripes with him. Thank god he’s gone though. June 10 - Steve McClaren is appointed NUFC manager. June 11 - Listen to this podcast on McClaren’s appointment and the media shenanigans June 12 - The dust has settled on Steve McClaren’s appointment and things have certainly changed at United, only time will tell if things have improved though. McClaren’s on the board with Graeme Carr. It could give the new HC influence his predecessors never had or it could be totally pointless as Ashley and Charnley are the men that matter. Bob Moncur’s board position is as preposterous as it is inflammatory. What does he know about running a football club?

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McClaren has what neither Hughton or Pardew (and certainly Carver) had before him – bonafide managerial success. Yes, he’s had failures to. He did a wonderful job getting an unfancied and relegation threatened Derby to a playoff final they should have won, but Derby’s capitulation this season is failure no one is talking about and we’re pretending doesn’t exist. He has won things though and he’s been given big jobs. His time with England is mocked, but Croatia and Russia took Euro 2008 by storm, both hugely unlucky not to get to the final. Injury problems were well documented and real. His relationship with the players have been mocked but as someone who follows England whenever possible including abroad and to major tournaments

– he recognised that English football was way behind the times. He looked to better formations and new systems. He dropped David Beckham – he has balls. I think he probably should have stuck with the status quo and got us to that tournament then looked to rebuild. Fair play to him for not accepting we’d just go to tournaments and be shit – like we did in 2010, 2012 and 2014 in the immediate aftermath of McClaren. Middlesbrough enjoyed the greatest success in their history under McClaren. Where are they now? FC Twente won their first ever league title and played Champions League Football for the first time. He had a mare at Nottingham Forest, so has pretty much every manager since working for mad owners.

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I’m positive. Ferguson, Wenger and Benitez had all been sacked before they achieved the success they did. Not everyone is Mourinho. I’m pleased McClaren has suffered in the past at clubs and had to re-build. This is his big chance. June 13 - Welcome to weekends without proper football. Rubbish. June 15 - Repeat after me: Andy Caroll, Bas Dost, Charlie Austin, Saido Berahino, Tom Ince, Yohan Cabaye, Loic Remy, Demba Ba, etc etc That’s your summer folks. I’d be delighted with two of those names (apart from Ince). Let’s see how serious the new regime is then over the coming months. ALEX HURST - FOLLOW ALEX ON @tfalex1892

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After 6 months the shambolic search for a new head coach is now at an end with Steve McClaren taking over the hotseat at St James’ Park. The initial reaction from supporters has been largely negative towards the appointment of the Yorkshireman and here I’m going to offer my arguments as to why this needn’t be so, why Steve McClaren and Newcastle United might well be a good match at this moment in time.

MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS? RYAN BELL

First off I feel the need to clarify that he wasn’t my favoured candidate for the job, from the outset I was casting glances over the continent at Thomas Tuchel and Remi Garde back in January; coaches with experience of working under the tight conditions that Ashley imposes here on NE6. Then when the discussion intensified again after our final day escape I don’t think I was the only supporter who was seduced by the poison ivy, the potential risk appointments Patrick Vieira (lack of experience) and Michael Laudrup (high chance he’d walk after a fortnight) so I can definitely understand why so many are considerably underwhelmed by the man who reportedly rejected the job twice over the last few months and who on the face of it has had an inconsistent career in management. www.true-faith.co.uk

Examining that managerial record, I can’t help but feel McClaren has been given a rough ride in some quarters. At Middlesbrough he presided over the most successful period in the clubs history, winning the League Cup, qualifying for Europe and reaching the UEFA Cup final in his five years there. Critics point out that he was given a lot of money to spend during this time but whilst Steve Gibson’s financial backing has always been something to admire, the fees involved during McClaren’s reign certainly weren’t astronomical especially when looked at in relation to what was happening in football at that time with the vast majority of European top flight clubs spending well beyond their means in the early 00’s. England was very much a tough gig and he was let down by

what was a squad full of rotten apples with inflated opinions of their ability and by an FA who failed to give him the support needed whilst under attack by a hawkish southern based media of which you could write down how much they know about football on the back of a beer mat. Title success came at FC Twente before a disappointing spell in Germany at Wolfsburg ensued during which much of their title winning side of 2009 was being dismantled. His last job ended in the sack at Derby but it is without doubt he left them in a better state than where they were when he joined, coming within a whisker of the Premier League w h e n t h e y

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Examining that managerial record, I can’t help but feel McClaren has been given a rough ride in some quarters

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outplayed QPR for the majority of their Play-Off Final falling to a last minute goal after a defensive slip up. Perhaps the most significant area of stagnation at Newcastle United other than investment in the playing staff itself over the past three years has been the lack of progression and new ideas within individuals and the collective unit. Of course it is difficult for supporters to judge which coaches are the most effective on the training field and we often have to rely on hearsay and reputation to make these assumptions, but after watching Newcastle United from 2011 onwards it’s pretty obvious that the now departed Carver and Stone were useless at their jobs. Certain aspects of the teams play remained so www.true-faith.co.uk

amateurish that you had to beg the question whether they were ever worked on at all, the woeful set pieces from an offensive and defensive perspective have been well documented and McClaren et al need to also look at our lack of composure in counter attacking situations. I can think of multiple scenarios harking back to Nile Ranger and Peter Lovenkrands bearing down on the Gallowgate end goal in the 89th minute whilst leading 1-0 to Spurs (finished 1-1) back in January 2011 where we have looked destined to work the ball into the net but have contrived to make a hash of it; so much so that it really shouldn’t have been surprising when the ball rolled into the keepers arms during the 4-on-1 on the final day of the season. On an individual level we

have a few players there with undoubted ability but are let down by flaws in their game, Sissoko is the first that springs to mind; a player who could become one of the best players in the league were he to improve his decision making and found a consistency in his performances. Cabella is another who we can see probably has ‘something’ but is severely lacking that cutting edge that you see from wingers playing at the top level. As I say we’re relying on hearsay and reputation here but McClaren’s standing as a training ground coach is very high and has received glowing character references from the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, in fact Gazza gave an interview this week with Talksport where he spoke of his surprise at just how impressive some of

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but McClaren’s standing as a training ground coach is very high and has received glowing character references from the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs

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the things McClaren was introducing to England’s training when he was invited along to watch. This is a guy who has been in and around football for about twenty years now and worked at a number of clubs yet I can’t find a player who has dished out any criticism towards him, which is somewhat unusual. Where I feel this appointment really is a logical one is how McClaren fits into Ashley’s framework, in his first interview he spoke of his approval of the structure in place where his concentration will be on improving the team with the chief scout identifying the players and the executive team tying up the deals (jury’s still out on that one). Some have pointed at this as justification to accuse McClaren of being another patsy, another Pardew, another Mike Ashley appointment only www.true-faith.co.uk

too eager to serve a man who’d employ them where nobody else would; I think this is unfair. As alluded to earlier his strengths lie in the coaching and development of players and his close relationship with Graham Carr will settle any worries that the structure will fall to pieces due to a conflict of ideals. For me the reason why Alan Pardew’s time as manager went pear shaped was due to the working relationship and communication between himself and Graham Carr being non-existent, at times it looked as though they were in a power struggle, pulling in different directions and continuously trying to undermine eachother. This is perfectly illustrated by the signings of players such as Vurnon Anita and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, signed on Carr’s recommendation and with high reputations but played out of position

and in systems that patently did not suit them. The structure only works if the coach decides on a style of play and instructs Carr to find players who are comfortable in it, sadly Pardew’s reactionary and passive management style meant that we could never really see any identity in his team. McClaren on the other hand has in the main stuck to a possession based 4-3-3 with pace in wide areas starting from his days in Holland so I’m hopeful that from now recruitment will be made a lot more easier and well thought out, unfortunately however so much relies upon the big man upstairs and how much he is willing to support his 8th coach in 8 years; if he doesn’t offer the sort of backing that entails the surgery required on this squad then McClaren could well be facing an uphill battle on Tyneside.

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McClaren on the other hand has in the main stuck to a possession based 4-3-3 with pace in wide areas starting from his days in Holland so I’m hopeful that from now recruitment will be made a lot more easier and well thought out

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In advance of the release of the club’s official DVD to the 2014/15 season, working title ‘Top Dogshit’, I’ve been asked to take you through the highs and lows of the past nine months following our glorious club. So, we beat Chelsea and Jonas made us all smile on the final day of the season. Right, that’s the highs out of the way so let’s crack on.

Gareth Harrison – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892

SEASON REVIEW - 2014/15

In terms of numbers, the summer transfer window was by our own standards not too bad. The problem was, as the following months bore out, the standard was somewhat mixed. Colback came across from the Mackems on a freebie, Janmaat arrived fresh from a World Cup semi final and Cabella came in for an eye-watering £13m. Our third ever highest transfer fee. Incredible. Also incoming were Riviere, www.true-faith.co.uk

some young’un from Tenerife called Perez and de Jong, who managed not to sprain his wrist signing the contract and actually scored in our opening friendly at Oldham. Ferreyra came in and I think I’ll keep my gob shut on the provenance of that signing for fear of ending up with the Editor in the dock. The less said there the better. We bought a couple of lads from Forest but loaned them straight back for the season and

our incoming business was done before the season kicked off with the nagging feeling that we were still well light in the usual areas up front and at the back. Our pre-season was completely overshadowed by the tragic events that I still can’t quite get my head around. John Alder and Liam Sweeney were killed en route to watch the lads in New Zealand after their plane was shot down over the Ukraine. My mate texted me not long

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...but as the transfer window neared it’s end, we mystifyingly let Mbiwa go on loan to Roma and sent Ben Arfa for a disastrous loan to Hull.

after news of the plane coming down to say that the Undertaker was on board and when you read it back, it still doesn’t seem real. In credit to the club and indeed to Pardew, they handled the aftermath impeccably and the fans remembered the lads in each game of the season in the 17th minute. That aside, the only real incident came in the tournament in Germany when a load of West Ham pissed up on lager tops and wearing pink polo shirts and deck shoes got a bit lairy. Fast forward nine months on and they qualified for Europe through the Fair Play League (which I would give my right bollock to www.true-faith.co.uk

do!) so they might well get their comeuppance in some Eastern European outpost in mid-July. The season started as the last had, with a defeat against Champions Man City although we at least made a fist of it this time before going to Villa for a mind numbingly tedious goalless draw. We made heavy weather of a League Cup tie at Gillingham no doubt infuriating the owner by having the temerity to qualify on the back of an own goal but as the transfer window neared it’s end, we mystifyingly let Mbiwa go on loan to Roma and sent Ben Arfa for a disastrous loan to

Hull. Mbiwa’s departure was symptomatic of the direction of the club and the absolutely abysmal coaching and management at the forefront of it. The lad went on to have a successful Champions League campaign and ended his season scoring the winner in a particularly vital Rome derby while we had a season of Mike Williamson at centre half. I could write a 3,000 word piece of my contempt for Williamson but the transfer was barmy and we suffered for it. Palace came to town at the end of August and Williamson actually scored to put us ahead with two minutes to go but we still contrived

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to finish 3-3 and at the end of the month we’d managed only two points. After an international break, things got worse. Southampton away was the first real horror performance of the season. The day started with Carver acting the cunt in what was to be a horrible taste of things to come from that knacker and ended with us losing 4-0. The Mackems went there a couple of weeks later and had eight stuck up them – it could have been us. We were wretched in drawing at home to Hull the following week. Cisse, who had been terribly mismanaged by Pardew tf 15


came off the bench to save his managers arse with a brace when we were two down and despite going to Palace and winning in extra time in the League Cup, when we lost away to Stoke in a spineless, dreadful performance at the end of September we looked knocking bets for relegation having yet again frittered away what looked on paper a reasonable start to the season.

was embarrassing but we somehow went in only one down before a crackers second half in which Sammy and then Perez scored for us to seal a win that was the second of an incredible six in a row.

Young Ayoze Perez was far from terrible, in fact I was falling in love with him along with 50,000 other Mags and fresh from scoring the winner against the Scousers, he was unstoppable at West Brom the week after scoring an absolute belter and running the Baggies ragged as we won 2-0. When we laboured slightly in beating relegationbound QPR with a Sissoko goal we’d gone from being joint bottom at the end of September to fifth before the end of November. Any thoughts of getting carried away with ourselves were dashed after a terrible performance at West Ham the week after when we lost 1-0 with Sissoko getting himself sent off for two yellow cards in a minute for a match most memorable for the sheer amount of our ‘lads’ in attendance looking to put a few things right from Germany in the summer.

I say incredible because immediately following Spurs was a trip to a strong Man City side in the League Cup. Pardew put a line-up out which to this day, no matter what The Pardew Out campaign the bullshitting twat might was in full flow by the reckon had ‘surrender’ time we went to Swansea written all over it. 17 year and witnessed that brilliant old Adam Armstrong as a ‘Not the name of a Welsh lone striker, Ryan Taylor town’ flag and again Cisse with his first start in twenty was a saviour scoring years and that wasn’t the twice in a fortunate draw. end of it but we absolutely Another international break played them off the park, winning 2-0 on a magical saw us still winless in midevening when double that October when Leicester wouldn’t have flattered came to town but on the us. Into the quarter final back of a couple of decent of a cup competition with performances, Obertan some ‘big names’ already capped a man of the match gone. Us? No, we couldn’t performance with a late could we? winner. We’d been shite again mind and everyone Liverpool came to town at expected a humping next the start of November and We were awful at Burnley up at Spurs. The first half were absolutely terrible. in the first half at the www.true-faith.co.uk

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Liverpool came to town at the start of November and were absolutely terrible. Young Ayoze Perez was far from terrible, in fact I was falling in love with him along with 50,000 other Mags

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beginning of December but still escaped with a point and when unbeaten Chelsea came to town with people talking them up as the new ‘invincibles’ for a lunchtime kick off, we feared a spanking. To everyone’s delight and astonishment, we were magnificent and a jumping SJP saw Cisse again score twice as we hung on at the end with substitute keeper Jak Alnwick between the sticks. Christ, remember that fucker? That was the high point of a season that was about to go dramatically south. After the Chelsea game we sat on 23 points, comfortably seventh after fifteen games. Over the course of the next twenty three games, we scrambled together only 16 points and although things were www.true-faith.co.uk

by no means rosy in the garden as we got happily pissed in the newly opened Bierkeller that afternoon, even by NUFC’s standards, the unravelling was spectacular. We’ve been awful at the Emirates in recent years so it was no great surprise when we got humped 4-1 in a match where Alnwick and the abysmal Williamson had stinkers but most people’s eyes were on the two biggest games of our season in the eight days that followed our trip to North London. Spurs stood in our way of a League Cup semi-final in midweek at White Hart Lane and in typical United style, everything that could have gone wrong did. Thousands travelled for the game and most

of them were still outside well into the first half to a total fuck up by the stewards and police that we have still never been properly compensated for. Twats. On the pitch, we disgracefully never turned up. Alnwick, so far out of his depth it was painful, dropped a bollock to gift them the first and we were humiliated 4-0. Cowardice ran deep through the team that night, ‘led’ by the worst captain in my lifetime, Coloccini. The omens weren’t good for the visit of the Mackems the Sunday before Christmas and after putting in another unforgivably limp display to a shocking Sunderland side, we conceded a sickening late winner to Adam Johnson. Wonder where he’ll be by the time this goes to print

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eh? Pardew had bottled the big occasions for the umpteenth time and any remaining glimmer of patience with the prick had completely run out. We surrendered at Man United on Boxing Day, losing 3-1 and on the back of four punishing defeats, no-one fancied us at home to Everton between Christmas and New Year. Luckily, they were shite and we put in a performance to beat them 3-2, featuring a first goal from Colback who should have walked moments before. We didn’t know this leaving the ground, but we were getting a belated Christmas present as ‘Pards’ was straight down to London before the first pint touched our lips in the Forth to jump tf 17


ship for twice the money to Palace, a club where he was actually wanted. One of my best mates is a Palace fan and he laughed at the ‘returning legend’ tag. I remember his words when I spoke to him well ‘He was a shit player who got lucky with the goal in the semi final and most of us think he’s a bit of a smarmy twat’. Quite. The Press reaction was laughable – we’d driven him out said Savage et al, we should have been grateful to him opined

fashioned a 3-3 draw at home to a Burnley side that were better than us in every way. They equalised late on and I’m almost glad they did, I’d have been embarrassed to have taken three points off them. And then there was the small matter of an FA Cup tie. Playing the only card he could possibly think he had with the fans, Carver gave it the ‘I’m a Geordie, me and I’ll give the cup a right good crack, I understand the fans, I’m one of them’ horseshit in the build up

NUFC to actually hating the cunts.

Barclay. Let’s get this in writing, Alan Pardew was a charlatan and a wanker and the day he left NE1 was and always will be a good one. Unfortunately, we went on to appoint the ONLY worse option until the end of the season, which nearly led to our ruination.

to the tie at Leicester. Not for the last time in the season, Carver and the team disgraced themselves irreparably with the support. A Mickey Mouse team barely disguised their desire to be knocked out as we slumped 1-0 to the side at the bottom of the League and a furious away end would have lynched Carver if he’d got close enough. This match more than any was the tipping point for me and I know many more from being completely dispirited by

ultimately zero effect over the players he managed.

With Ashley’s pants firmly round his ankles, John Carver was rewarded for his coaching ‘nous’ with the manager’s job on a caretaker basis. He started lucky when we somehow www.true-faith.co.uk

Santon was let go back to Milan in the window. The club couldn’t wait to get rid of what I’ve always believed was a good player who had been played on the wrong flank for almost the entirety of his career at United and the move eventually left us pitifully short at the full back position he departed. Carver of course, as with Pardew before him, had zero say over transfers and

Carver reckoned we were a bit unlucky at Chelsea to lose 2-0, we weren’t and likewise we were well beaten by Southampton at home the week after. We played a horrific Hull side off the pitch to record a 3-0 win, which was followed by uninspiring points at home to Palace and Stoke. We were a disgrace again at the Etihad, capitulating to lose 5-0 and had they not completely taken their foot off the gas, we

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We didn’t know this leaving the ground, but we were getting a belated Christmas present as ‘Pards’ was straight down to London before the first pint touched our lips in the Forth to jump ship for twice the money to Palace, a club where he was actually wanted.

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would certainly have been looking at the first double figure hiding in the Premier League era. February ended with us beating Villa at SJP and us satisfyingly taunting the relegation threatened twats with ‘You’re not laughing anymore’. Little did we know, comfortable on 35 points, that we would be the ones that wouldn’t be doing the sniggering in a quite staggering run which saw us take only one point from the next TEN games with a man in charge who I think can unequivocally now hold the crown of worst ever Newcastle manager, despite the strength of the competition. We shot ourselves in the foot in the last minute when on course for a point against a terrible Man United side at the start of March before comfortably being on the end of a 3-0 reverse at Goodison on a miserable day when the away end was twatful, our www.true-faith.co.uk

captain sent off to rule him out of the Sunderland game and the side patently not bothered. We stirred our arses slightly in the second half at home to Arsenal but the damage was done in the first and we lost 2-1 and then we were off to the Stadium of Light for a 5:30pm kick off on Easter Sunday. After four miserable defeats to our nearest and dearest, Carver again spouted a load of dogshit about how no side of his would go out with a whimper against the Mackems. We did and of all of the ‘Five in a Row’ defeats this was the worst. They were palpably shit yet still a street ahead of us in terms of effort and application and as they celebrated a result that would ultimately keep them up again wildly, the away end was almost too stunned to even vent their anger. I stood by myself to get the metty back to East Boldon after all of the direct trains had gone back

to town and the numbness gave way to anger. I held all of them in total contempt and obviously a lot of others felt the same and in the days after the match, the fightback began as Ashleyout.com sprung up and shone the spotlight on the man that is ultimately to blame for the shell of a club that no-one recognises as their own any more. A tiny away following due to a disgraceful £50+ ticket price saw us tank again at Anfield, losing 2-0 when the scoreline flattered us and the club was in total freefall with the support in open conflict with those on and off the pitch. On the pitch, Sissoko was sent off for two bookings in a minute and if I held the players in open disdain, I reserve a special level of bile for that cunt. Coward, phoney and nobody. Let’s see how that move to a top four side pans out this summer eh

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Let’s see how that move to a top four side pans out this summer eh MOUSSA?

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Moussa? The goings on on the field though were now totally secondary to the planned boycott led by the Ashleyout campaign for the following Sunday against Spurs in front of the Sky cameras. Along with thousands of others, I gathered outside the Gallowgate not feeling quite as powerless as I previously had and trooped off to the Percy with my da and my best mates while the game took place not 300 yards away in a ground shorn of 12-15,000 of it’s support. We lost, of course, but all of a sudden the media’s ears were pricked to what was happening in the frozen North and from that point on, the tone towards the clubs support softened as the critical articles on Ashley mounted up. When we contrived to throw away a lead to lose again at home to Swansea the following weekend in front of a noticeably www.true-faith.co.uk

more empty stadium and a febrile atmosphere, we still sat four places above the relegation zone but we looked no more likely to produce a win than I did waking up on a pile of fifty pound notes with a twelve inch cock. And in the immortal words of Sidney Smutt ‘I’m not lopping six inches off me chopper for nee fucker’. Everything felt wrong when we headed back to Leicester on the first Saturday of May – they were mounting a phoenixlike escape from the dead and we were tanking but even by the standards of the accelerated train crash that we were embarking on, the afternoon left Mags open mouthed in astonishment. One down in seconds, we ended up losing 3-0 with nine men and when Carver came onto national radio to accuse Williamson of being deliberately sent off (when in actual fact Janmaat’s looked more intended)

then a line had been crossed and relegation seemed a certainty. We scrambled a point against West Brom to at least arrest the sequence of defeats but other results left us just a place above the drop zone. We did have the luxury of a gimme against already relegated QPR, who days before had given the textbook example of a performance of a side that had ‘tossed it off’ at Man City but despite taking the lead on a sunny day in the capital and backed by a noisy away end, we ended up throwing it away and losing the game. Carver reckoned it was too hot. Granted, John, it was very warm in my mates back garden in Tottenham that we decided to stay in drinking strong lager, smoking funny cigarettes and listening to the match on the radio rather than bothering to drag our arses across London

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but despite taking the lead on a sunny day in the capital and backed by a noisy away end, we ended up throwing it away and losing the game. Carver reckoned it was too hot.

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then cometh the hour, cometh the Spiderman

to watch you disgrace our club but Qatar in mid summer it was not. We were fucked and when the Mackems went to the Emirates and put up a display which had many a Mag muttering ‘I wish we put in half as much effort as those twats’ to put themselves safe, the final day came down to us and Hull for the final relegation spot. Finding ourselves in a position that had seemed improbable if not unthinkable at the turn of the year, the last day had an almost bizarre feel to it. The support were not, by any stretch of the imagination unanimous in their desire to see us stay up, many were taking their seats as season ticket holders for the last time www.true-faith.co.uk

for the foreseeable future at least and most thought we would be in some way reliant on Man United doing us a favour. Then when we were walking into the ground, the texts started coming in ‘Ashley’s done an interview live on Sky’. Eh? What? Spoken and that? Then onto the game itself – just after half time it was up in the air whether we were staying up at all with both Hull and ourselves level then cometh the hour, cometh the Spiderman as Jonas created and then, with minutes to go scored one which sent the ground loopy and him into Geordie folklore – a symbol of what is right about our club against all that is rotten. He’ll leave a hero to us Mags

for what he’s done off the field and the classy way he has conducted himself – the fact he capped his career off with us in such an important manner is a fitting tribute to the man. And now what? Did anyone believe Ashley’s weasel words? Writing this on a miserable first day of June, it looks at least like Carver will be nowhere near the manager’s job next season which is at least a start. The preposterous notion of the owner ‘continuing’ to invest and his insistence that things will change will be judged over the summer and for me, I’m just pleased to be shot of the fuckers for a good few weeks at least. And that, ladies and gentlemen was the season that was. Was shite, that is.

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Well, that was no fun at all, was it? Having scraped Premier League survival by the skin of our teeth, one of the most important close-seasons in the club’s recent history has begun with a crop of fringe players being released following the expiration of their contracts this month, including the perennially CALLUM PATTERSON unfortunate Ryan ‘Over the Wall’ Taylor.

Ryan Taylor - Over and Out Born in Liverpool, Taylor spent his youth career with Tranmere Rovers, before graduating to their first team and making 98 appearances before moving to Wigan Athletic. He spent 3 and a half seasons at the JJB Stadium scoring six goals, with his first Premier League goal coming against, you guessed it, Newcastle United. He then signed for us mid-way through the 2008/2009 campaign, going on to make 92 appearances in black and white, scoring 6 goals. His time on Tyneside, however, was blighted with injuries. Having already come back from a fairly serious layoff mid-way through his Newcastle career, Taylor suffered an enormous 26 months on the treatment table due to a cruciate ligament injury. Here, we take a look back over Ryan’s 6-and-a-half seasons on Tyneside. Having been something of a thorn in our side during his www.true-faith.co.uk

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Wigan days (4 goals against us in 4 consecutive games, to be precise), perhaps our management thought the easiest way to stop him scoring against us would be to have him play for us. Whatever the motives, early 2009 saw Taylor moving to Tyneside with Charles N’Zogbia going in the opposite direction. Ryan’s debut came away to West Brom on Saturday 7th February in a 3-2 win, with his corner headed in by Steven Taylor to provide our decisive third goal. He went on to make 9 more appearances in that fateful season but was unable to do anything to halt our slide out of the Premier League. Sticking around for our successful Championship campaign the following season, Taylor made 36 appearances in total, including two in the League Cup and three in the FA cup. It was in this season that Ryan got his first goals for the club, his maiden strike tf 22


...Ryan Taylor’s finest moment in a Newcastle shirt. In our second game of the season, away to Sunderland, Ryan fired a free-kick ‘over the wall,’ scoring what proved to be the winning goal...

coming away to Crystal Palace in a 2-0 victory. His second goal in NUFC colours came during a fine display in a resounding 4-0 success away to Ipswich Town. Having already provided the cross for the first of Kevin Nolan’s three, Taylor scored the type of goal which would eventually earn him his ‘Over the Wall’ moniker; a long-range free-kick from the left into Richard Wright’s top righthand corner gave NUFC a healthy 3-0 lead. Taylor also had a hand in our fourth, and final, goal of the game; crossing for Nile Ranger to head down to Nolan to nod home and secure his hattrick. Two more Championship goals for Taylor came within 4 days of each other, as he helped NUFC to 4-1 and 3-0 home victories against Coventry City and Preston North End respectively. After picking up his Championship Winner’s

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medal at the end of the campaign, Taylor was retained for the club’s return to the Premier League. However, the arrival of Sol Campbell and James Perch confined Ryan primarily to a place on the substitute’s bench, at the start of the 2010/2011 season. He did have a prominent role in our League Cup campaign in that season though; playing in all three games and scoring in the first two. These goals, one away to Accrington Stanley and the other at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge were both free-kicks and helped NUFC to 3-2 and 4-3 wins respectively. There was nothing Taylor, nor anyone else in black and white, could do in the next round, however, as, typically, Newcastle crashed out of the competition in uninspiring fashion; slumping to a 4-0 defeat to Arsenal. This season also included the first in a series of lengthy lay-offs for Ryan. An injury-

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hampered season saw him make only five league appearances for NUFC, including a home draw with Bolton Wanderers that saw him sent off for a tackle that manager Alan Pardew described as ‘over-zealous.’ With Jose Enrique departing for Anfield in the summer of 2011 and new-signing Davide Santon on the treatment table, Taylor got an extended run in the starting line-up at the start of the new 2011/2012 season. The Liverpudlian played his part in an excellent start to the campaign for the Magpies which saw us go 11 games unbeaten. This run did, however, include what many would consider Ryan Taylor’s finest moment in a Newcastle shirt. In our second game of the season, away to Sunderland, Ryan fired a free-kick ‘over the wall,’ scoring what proved to be the winning goal as NUFC took their first win of the season. tf 23


Ryan will always be well-regarded on Tyneside thanks to his goal against Sunderland and the fact that he fought back from serious injury, always giving his all on the pitch

In the November of that season, Taylor scored with a volley from outside the area, again providing the winning goal for his team, as NUFC ran out 2-1 winners against the Toffees. He dedicated that goal to his six-week-old son and his performance in the game earned him the ‘Man of the Match,’ award. Those two goals, along with another from a freekick against Scunthorpe in the League Cup, were to be Ryan’s only goals of a campaign in which NUFC eventually finished fifth. And so to the 2012/2013 campaign. Our two-legged tie against Atromitos in the Europa League qualifying stages started well for Taylor as he again notched from a free-kick. Ill fortune awaited him, however, as he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in the return leg and was consigned to the treatment table for a number of months. Although he returned to training towards the end of that season, a recurrence of the same injury saw him miss the entirety of the 2013/2014 campaign. After 26 months on the

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sidelines, Taylor returned to the Newcastle side in the League Cup win away to Manchester City in the October of the season just gone. Less than a month later, however, his knee was injured again, leaving him out until last February, by which time Alan Pardew had been replaced by temporary incumbent John Carver.

Jonas Gutierrez. Taylor himself admits that he did not expect to be offered a new deal, but caused consternation amongst fans during an interview with Sky Sports News in which he stated that he and Gutierrez learned their fate via a telephone call from John Carver, received while the pair were away on a coaching course in Belfast.

No goals were to come for Ryan in what proved to be his final season in a black and white shirt and his form deteriorated towards the end of the campaign. Frequently, and bizarrely, preferred in an unfamiliar central midfield role to the likes of Mehdi Abeid by John Carver,Taylor eventually lost his place in the side and was an unused substitute on the last day of the season as NUFC secured their Premier League survival with a 2-0 win over West Ham.

Ryan will always be wellregarded on Tyneside thanks to his goal against Sunderland and the fact that he fought back from serious injury, always giving his all on the pitch. He will be remembered as a good professional who quietly went about his game to the best of his ability.

With Premier League status assured for the coming season and his contract expiring this summer, Taylor has not been offered a new deal and will leave the club as a free agent, along with fan favourite

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The task for Lee Charnley, Graham Carr and whoever is eventually appointed as head coach is to replace popular players like Taylor and Gutierrez. Both players could provide cover in several areas of the pitch and both worked hard for our cause. Their character off the pitch and versatility on it will not be easily matched. tf 24


After I had just wasted 2 and abit hours of my life listening to United getting blitzed 4-0 for the second time running at St Mary’s I decided to listen to the after-match phone-in on BBC Radio Newcastle. What struck me was the amount of criticism towards the manager from radio pundits Mick Lowes and John Anderson (the callers, apart from 1 lost soul were all anti-Pardew) who were scathing in their assessment of Pardew after the game. What was even more striking was that on the Monday edition of total sport after the weekend, John Anderson’s criticism of the manager continued in the same vein that it had over the weekend. What happened on the Tuesday (September 16th) after the game and what has been written and spoken in the media since then is what has drove me to pen this piece.

Output Control Alex Wilson

Under section 4 of the BBC’s editorial guidelines it states that “Impartiality lies at the heart of public services” (BBC, 2014). That Tuesday edition of Total Sport had no hint of impartiality at all, literally none. The criticism that had been aired on the weekend and on the Monday editions of Total Sport had vanished completely, much like the “players” (I use that term loosely)in the starting XI did in the most recent derby fixture (No 7 I’m looking www.true-faith.co.uk

at you here and not for the first time either). Now had this criticism been gradually replaced by something akin to balanced debate (i.e 50% of callers being for Pardew and 50% against) then fair enough, but on the sort of scale that occurred on the Tuesday edition?, nope, I’m not buying it, someone (one of Keith Bishop or the club PR department) has had to have had words with BBC Radio Newcastle about the “balance of reporting”. This happened around

the time that the media campaign (which may or may not have been guided by Keith Bishop) to defend Pardew had started and the numerous failed attempts to derail the lads and lasses at SackPardew.com had also started. When Pardew left for Palace, the BBC ran an article on their website which carried a contribution from Ian Dennis (Five lives chief reporter). That contribution was so biased in favour of

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Pardew it raised questions as to what sort of stance the BBC was taking over the affair. Any sort of impartiality at all would have seen his stats (they make for painful reading, especially the set piece ones) at NUFC examined in detail and his performance scrutinised. None of that was forthcoming, absolute zilch in the way of detailed analysis of his shambolic record. Questions have to be raised as to whether or not the BBC are actively following their guidelines when reporting on NUFC affairs or are they reporting what the club wants them to. We know from the letter that was sent to the local papers in October 2013 that the club visibly dislikes coverage that is negative or shines a bad light on the club and will actively ban those who disagree with its point of view. When Pardew left (for those that are wondering, yes I did www.true-faith.co.uk

celebrate), the club released a statement suggesting that it never had any intentions of sacking him and from what we have seen over the past 2 years, the club has banned papers and journalists for reporting that he was either considered for the sack or was 1 game away from being sacked (thanks goes out to the lads and lasses at AshleyOut. com for the media bans section). The club actively seeks to control what the media (both radio and written press) report. It is disgraceful that in this day and age in a country that practically invented the concept of free speech that an institution which literally sits at the heart of its community so blatantly disregards it and actively attempts to halt it. Now we know from the last set of fans forum minutes that the club is of the opinion that the criticism that the fans on social media appropriate towards

the local media (mainly towards the Evening Chronicle and the Journal) apparently influences their reporting to the extent that it affects their “balanced output” (the clubs definition of balanced output is something completely different to what you or I think ). It was also reported in the Guardian that the club thinks that it gets far too much criticism from the media of its activities and not enough positive coverage, the article in question was written up by David Conn and is an excellent read, it even has a video contribution from the editor himself. It was also noted in the David Conn article that the club will react to negative coverage. Said reaction of Llambias to the city council’s decision to oppose the name-change says it all when it comes to the reaction of the board to coverage or actions taken that they deem to be negative.

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Newcastle finally decided that it should be Steve McLaren that should become the new head coach and with that they have also decided that the coaching staff should be replaced and brought in by the new gaffer.

Michael Brown

New Gold Dream After our lucky escape last season the board seem to of learnt a few lessons so far, they have dismissed Carver and Stone which I only see as a positive we can’t have a new coach coming in and having the coaching team that he does not want, it wouldn’t of been a great start to what we HOPE to be a new era under Mike Ashley. www.true-faith.co.uk

Steve McLaren has had a mixed career but let’s not forget some of the good work he has done, I know his appointment divides opinion but I feel he might actually be good for the club, it’s a new era at St James Park and I refuse to start getting critical just yet so I won’t be saying any negatives until they are justified this is a clean slate for the club and this is

what’s its needed for a few years now. In 1999 Steve McLaren took over Brian Kidd as assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester united and in his 1st season at old Trafford was the season they achieved the infamous treble. He was then asked by peter Taylor to help coach the national side in 2000 and later that year he was then appointed as manager of

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I know his appointment divides opinion but I feel he might actually be good for the club tf 27


Middlesbrough for the 00/01 season and after 2 seasons of steady progress in the 03/04 season he then took Boro to the final of the League cup and went on to win beating Bolton and securing European football, now as we all know cup football hasn’t exactly been the clubs priority but now they want to win a cup and least we have a coach who has taken the cups seriously in the past and has what it takes to get further in a cup competition. He then reached the latter stages of the FA cup and the UEFA cup in the 05/06 season again showing his abilities to take the cup competitions seriously. He then left Boro in 06 and took over Sven as England manager, remember I said www.true-faith.co.uk

I didn’t want to talk about the negatives so I’m not going to say what the outcome of that was as we all know we failed to qualify for Euro 08 etc and an umbrella incident and so on and so on. So after his disappointing spell as England gaffer he then went to try and manage abroad and in 08 he became the manager of Dutch side Twente and after 2 seasons with them he took them to the Dutch title for the first time in the clubs history. I won’t lie I was very excited at the prospect of Patrick Vieira become the new toon coach but when you sit back and think it would of been a massive risk to take with an unknown so I think appointing Steve

McLaren is a very sensible and wise choice, look at what he’s won in football as a coach, League cup, Dutch Title, UEFA cup final and FA cup semi Final having that experience as well as some of the bad points can surely be a good thing, right? What has Alan Pardew Achieved as a manager? or Chris Hughton? Our last 2 gaffers together haven’t won what McLaren has, and I’m banking on all the experience good and bad to make Newcastle a respectable decent club again and for that I would say he’s the right man for the job. How he got the job is due to the fact when Pardew left for Crystal Palace, Derby were still flying high in the championship with their excellent start

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McLaren is a very sensible and wise choice, look at what he’s won in football as a coach, League cup, Dutch Title, UEFA cup final and FA cup semi Final having that experience as well as some of the bad points can surely be a good thing, right? tf 28


to their season not going unnoticed, they were top of the championship for quite a while, and their season only started to fall apart when Newcastle started sniffing around McLaren, that’s when the performance of the team came into question, despite McLaren insisting he was fully focused on Derby I think everyone knew his head had been turned and that affected the whole club from McLaren himself to the players. Compare McLaren to most modern day former Newcastle united managers his premier league record is better than most of our previous gaffers bettering big Sam, Hughton, Souness and Gullit and his loss percentage is also better than Alan Pardew so we should be expecting www.true-faith.co.uk

ourselves to be harder to beat which can’t be a bad thing as we were too easy to beat too often last season. McLaren is expected to be very busy in his 1st week as toon boss as he assembles his back room staff including his number 2 which we expect to be Paul Simpson who has been an assistant to McLaren before and while he assembles his backroom staff he will also be helping close friend graham Carr bring in some new signings to revamp an outdated squad with it reported to be 6 first team players as well as hoping to add to the development squad with 2 players, potential new players has been speculated since the final game of the season when safety was assured, a few signings I do think

will happen is QPR striker Charlie Austin, who has been sensational for QPR and think he could do so well in the famous black and white shirt, Micah Richards who has been released by Manchester city is also in the early stages and Patrick Bamford of Chelsea has also been rumoured with joining the club I’ve heard a few more negations are already underway which I’ll save for another day. McLaren has been appointed on a 3 year contract with the possibility of a further 5 years all being well, he’s also been placed on the board of directors which was also announced just after the announcement of McLaren as head coach which suggests he might have a bit more of a say in transfers than everyone previously thought he

CONTENTS

so we should be expecting ourselves to be harder to beat which can’t be a bad thing as we were too easy to beat too often last season.

tf 29


might have and this can only be a good thing. In his interview he claimed he had turned Newcastle down on 3 occasions in total once when he was the manager at Boro, when he was at Twente and then the third time in January but stated that he thought it “wasn’t the right time” he said the club have aspirations to win trophies and this is what McLaren had to say “I’ve already won trophies as a manager, and a club the size of Newcastle united should be winning cups AND finishing in the top 8”. I must admit I felt like he had actual passion for the club when I heard him speaking and thought that even more when he said this “I always wanted to join Newcastle. They’re one of the biggest clubs in Europe” and even more positive www.true-faith.co.uk

news was what managing director Lee Charnley had to see about McLaren “from my first interview with Steve I knew he was the perfect fit for Newcastle United”. So with the new era underway at St James Park our new head coach who seems to have such passion for the club some of the old backroom staff dismissed ready for our new head coach to bring in the staff he feels he needs at our club, they then have the task of looking at our current squad and deciding who needs to be moved on and I feel there will be a fair few by the way then they have the task of making the squad being capable of challenging the top 8 and in the cups and I would expect us to see more than the predicted 6 players coming

into the club from what I know it will be closer to the 9 mark and don’t forget that we have 2 of last season’s signings to come to the club from Nottingham forest in Jamaal Lascelles and keeper Karl Darlow who will hopefully be able to keep Krul on his toes, this could be a great summer for the club so let’s back them. This has the potential to be a fresh start for the club and its fans so let’s get behind the new head coach and his staff as well as the players and maybe just maybe they can give us something to look forward to at long last this great club of ours hasn’t felt like the great club it is so this is everyone’s chance to start a fresh so let’s grab it while the going is good.

CONTENTS

This has the potential to be a fresh start for the club and its fans so let’s get behind the new head coach and his staff as well as the players and maybe just maybe they can give us something to look forward to at long last

tf 30


Like many mags the sacking of John Carver divided opinion. The TF site was awash with a superb discussion on the merits of Carver’s dismissal and his culpability in United’s disgraceful record under his tenure. Like most topics surrounding Newcastle United fans are divided. Difference of opinion is a natural part of football debate but these days’ hatred and distrust reign supreme throughout the region. Distrust of the football club, the people, the fans and just about everything else. There’s no unity on or off the park and it’s the job of one man to sort things out.

Manifesto ALEX HURST The problem is almost everything Mike Ashley has touched at Newcastle United has bombed. Big time. Every time we get close to any type of success there is always the massive caveat that Mike Ashley will inevitably fuck everything up in ways we the fans couldn’t have dreamed of (Hello Joe Kinnear, Director of Football). I’ve not been tasked with listing all of Mike Ashley’s mistakes, lies or catastrophes and you mostly likely know them anyway. If you don’t know them already then I suggest you head to ashleyout.com. So how can this billionaire of ‘ours’ create unity on and off the www.true-faith.co.uk

park for a divided fan base. Will he change? Does he want to? What does he need to do? Contrary to what some would have you believe Mike Ashley is not responsible for all of the ills in modern football. Nor is he responsible for Newcastle United’s fall from grace as one of England’s premier football clubs. Before Ashley arrived United had finished in the bottom half of the Premier League for more than 50% of the seasons completed after Keegan’s departure. While Champions League Football was achieved, cup finals reached and over one hundred million spent in this period, success was the

exception to the rule under Shepherd. Cup competitions were sparsely attended (26K v Birmingham in a cup replay in 2007) and SJP was as much of a morgue as it is today, if not more so. Don’t listen to all of the anti-Ashley rhetoric. Yes he cancelled the singing section but he also introduced it. There was recognition of a problem, a solution and then we had it snatched away. I didn’t enjoy home games for the first years of having a season ticket. The 04/05 season wretched, 05/06 worse bar a three month spell at the end 06/07 worse again. Rubbish.

So how can this billionaire of ‘ours’ create unity on and off the park for a divided fan base. Will he change? Does he want to? What does he need to do?

The United Newcastle didn’t really exist beyond season 03/04 (if that

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tf 31


– remember the lap of honour after Wolves – best fans in the world etc) and while the slump has certainly worsened under Mike Ashley, he didn’t start the malaise. In Ashley’s first home game we played out a dire 0 0 draw against Vile (who’d have predicted that when Shepherd brought in Allardyce on £4m a year) and there were over 1,000 empty seats. There’s been money spent on players in the summer and we’d turned over Bolton 3 1 in a very impressive win on the opening day. The ground was flat. No atmosphere, little passion. It’s the Newcastle United I remember before Ashley. He’d done everything right at this early stage. Chris Mort was speaking to people. We were optimistic, but the Newcastle United I hear many yearn for and rail against Ashley in hope of a return – simply didn’t exist and hadn’t for maybe www.true-faith.co.uk

3 or 4 years, perhaps longer. I’m not sticking up for Mike Ashley or his running of Newcastle United but instead laying the platform for an argument to describe what he should be trying to do. Too many conversations, articles, podcasts and social media comments are simply focused on the removal of Mike Ashley without an alternative. Just a ‘hope’ things will improve. Short terms goals with short terms people involved. If Ashley left who do they want? Who buys Premier League clubs these days? You’ve got your invested local businessman who are one in a million like Peter Coates at Stoke, Kenwright at Everton and West Ham lot. All have come under intense criticism in recent years, but all have the best interest of their clubs at heart (I think). There aren’t many Gulf States left who need to latch onto a

football club and an airline to ‘promote’ their nation states which allows a mass ignorance in the media of human rights abuses in their sexist, homophobic dictatorships. I think we’d struggle to attract an Emir or a prince. So who will take over NUFC? Americans probably. Would we want a Shahid Khan at Fulham who has been a total disaster or a Stan Kroenke at Arsenal? Maybe I’m being small time and a bit xenophobic. How about the success of Ellis Short at Sunderland – the only Premier League club in recent years to perform worse than NUFC but lose millions in the process. How has Randy Learner at Villa got on battling relegation every year and publically disowning the club? Maybe you want the Glazers whose leach like attachment to a once great football institute

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HE’D DONE EVERYTHING RIGHT AT THIS EARLY STAGE. CHRIS MORT WAS SPEAKING TO PEOPLE. WE WERE OPTIMISTIC...

tf 32


has spawned the much admired FCUM. Crystal Palace are about to have new American owners (let’s hope they don’t want to bring in their own man, Alan eh?) and Liverpool fans are hardly delighted with the way that Boston based Fenway Sports Group have added the club to their ‘empire’. An interesting aspect of the US takeover of the Premier League has always been the desire to move franchises’ from city to city in US sport. “It could never happen over here” I hear you think. Why not? If there’s one organisation in the world governance willing to stamp all over its fan base for a few quid. It’s the Premier League. Shahid Khan has already done it and Stan Kroenke is trying to do it. These people aren’t in this for the passion, the glory or anything other than the money. Quite simply if you’re an NUFC and your sole aim is “until the objective to see him removed as owner of our beloved club has been achieved” then quite frankly www.true-faith.co.uk

I’m not sure why you bother. Campaign for real change. Forcing a billionaire to sell an asset no one wants to buy to face another set of likely similar challenges if you’re goal is achieved, is laughable. The only realistic way Newcastle United will be successful long term is if all supporters back the Newcastle United Supporters Trust. I cannot see any knight in shining armour for the club. I don’t want rid of Ashley regardless. I want the right people to buy Newcastle United and if they can’t be found I want Mike Ashley to make good on his promise and change. I want him to deliver a capable playing staff and a team we can support. No more comments from me on the podcast about giving Riviere time. Someone told me recently ‘buy cheap, buy twice.’ NUFC still need a centre forward despite shelling out last summer. Mike Ashley himself has to change to make the right things happen. For Mike Ashley to get us united again a number

of crucial changes need to happen this summer. The important dismissal of John Carver has been achieved. A poor coach, a worse manager and a man apparently tainted by greed so much he was willing to ignore his shambolic performance as manager to expect to be made manager for little other reason than he believed he deserved it. Carver was used to Jobs for the boys under Ashley and thought he was the next cab off the rank. Mags could see through it and it was essential that the 2015/16 season started with a new manager and a fresh direction.

The important dismissal of John Carver has been achieved. A poor coach, a worse manager

Steve McClaren has not set pulses racing. He shouldn’t have to of course as short term excitement at appointments is irrelevant when analysing managerial success retrospectively. It was before my time but Alex Ferguson or Bill Shankly didn’t have Manchester and Liverpool bouncing at their arrival, but shed tears when they left. However Steve McClaren’s appointment will not unite a divided

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tf 33


city in a short period of time. Regardless of transfer activity, only years of growth and success could bring back what the city once had and in any case that could be too late for many. Many fans are interested only in results. Not everyone engages with social media or will be upset that only two ‘selected’ media partners were allowed inside St James’ for McClaren’s ‘unveiling’. Thousands do though. Hardly a statement of transparency from Ashley and NUFC for the ‘new era’. Controlling what we see, hear and read about our club suggests contempt. Let’s give those than run United the benefit of the doubt that they act at all times in Newcastle United’s best interest; at best they don’t trust us or the media to make up our minds www.true-faith.co.uk

or establish a reasonable opinion of the ‘facts’. At worst they’re trying to deceive us into giving them their money by allowing us to hear what they want us to and manipulating how and where information is presented. The news Steve McClaren was confirmed as a manager was late afternoon early evening around 6PM. No 11am press conference for us. Why was that decision taken? Why leave the local press out? Who took that decision and what are their thoughts behind it? As long as questions like this go unanswered we’ll never trust Ashley and Newcastle United won’t be successful. The club choses to communicate through its ‘partners’. We’ve more chance of finding out club news through the W*ng*

website than the Chronicle. Why would I ever need to visit the W*ng* site unless I was desperate for money? Why should kids follow W*ng* employees on twitter? Answer: They might win tickets. In the process they become comfortable with the pay day loan brand. It doesn’t have to be like this. Why can’t the club run ticket competitions through its own website or social media? How are we supposed to trust Mike Ashley, and believe his pre-West Ham rallying call when an association with Newcastle United means an association with Sports Direct? I carry my season ticket in my wallet and each time I open it in public, I’m advertising for that company. It’s forever been the way that as football supporters we

CONTENTS

Why was that decision taken? Why leave the local press out? Who took that decision and what are their thoughts behind it? As long as questions like this go unanswered we’ll never trust Ashley and Newcastle United won’t be successful.

tf 34


undertake this task but the understanding is that the club gains something from this relationship. It appears that not only does Sports Direct not pay NUFC for the privilege of advertising but the club is paying the sports where store almost £4 million per year for an unnamed reason. No transparency, no trust. Mike Ashley could be a Newcastle United hero. He doesn’t have to be and I don’t really want him to be. He just needs to stop the abuse of trust with the fan base. Don’t offend at every turn. If Mike Ashley doesn’t want to talk, then fine. How many interviews have you seen Roman Abramovic or Sheik Mansour give recently? Or Ellis Short for that matter. Being a silent owner is fine. You appoint executives to speak www.true-faith.co.uk

in your stead. When there’s no one talking, there’s no communication. People fear the worst. Actions can be misinterpreted and decisions given false identities. I don’t think Arsenal or Manchester City fans can claim to have a ‘relationship’ with those owning their clubs. Football doesn’t have to be that intimate. I’d like to think one day the owners of Newcastle United would care what I thought. It might never happen. Mike Ashley could make it happen, or make a start. Transparency would be key, communication appreciated and a relationship could be built. Realistically extra money for transfers and short term success next season would just be a temporary measure. Mike Ashley has

to understand why people don’t like him. Earlier I alluded to some supporter’s misconceptions of life immediately before Ashley and wanting to return to something that didn’t exist. I get the feeling that Mike is fixated on the period many supporters romanticise about. After all 15th this season gone vs 14th the season after Ashley took over with a projected £60m swing into the black to achieve that – is pretty good in business terms and probably seems pretty good to Mike Ashley. Until he understands that improving on a period that was never anywhere close to being enjoyable or good enough is not what we’re looking for, then we’ll remain a fractured fan base in decline.

CONTENTS

Mike Ashley could be a Newcastle United hero. He doesn’t have to be and I don’t really want him to be. He just needs to stop the abuse of trust with the fan base

tf 35


PETER SAGAR

POWER,

AND

CORRUPTION

LIES

If it wasn’t bad enough supporting a club run as little more than an advertising hoarding for two very dodgy companies, it now so seems clear that the whole world game is rife with corruption and more dodgy dealing... But is there more to the anger towards Blatter than meets the eye – and should Greg Dyke be just as concerned about matters somewhat closer to home? Certainly there seems to have been a lot of corruption at FIFA and Blatter has presided over it. It also seems possible that not only have some of the most important ‘players’ at FIFA now been implicated, but rather like the way the Watergate Scandal crept further and further up the chain of command, to Nixon himself, you can’t help but feel that there must be a reason why Blatter resigned so suddenly only four days after being re-elected as President of FIFA. No doubt time will tell Blatter has also responded very weakly to both racism and sexism in the game. In November 2011, he was reported as saying that there was no racism in football, a stunningly complacent standpoint, whilst in September 2014, Blatter also commented that, “football is very macho…... it’s so difficult to accept [women] in the game….. not playing the game, but in the governance.” These are just two out of numerous examples. Blatter has come

www.true-faith.co.uk

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across time and time again as being seriously out of touch with the modern world….and indeed the modern game. That said, I can’t help but feel that the real reason why Greg Dyke and the British (and some European) press are so keen to get at Blatter is because they are piqued that England didn’t get the World Cup and that he actually did do some good in trying to spread power in the game further afield to Africa and Asia. Let’s face it; until 1994, the World Cup was really the European/ South American Cup, as the competition finals were never held anywhere else – until American wealth and power swung the finals their way in 1994. Indeed it can be argued that it was only the combined wealth and power of Japan and South Korea in 2002 and the particular circumstances around postapartheid South Africa have ensured that the finals have ever gone to Asia and Africa. So far. tf 36


THE BIGGEST SCANDAL OVER QATAR IS THE APPALLING DEATH RATE ON THE WORKSITES OF NEW STADIA AND THE GENERAL LACK OF RIGHTS OF WORKERS. IT IS ESTIMATED AT PRESENT THAT ON THE HOT, DUSTY WORKSITES OF QATAR AT LEAST 1200 WORKERS HAVE DIED...

Source: Washington Post

I say so far, because now of course, we have the prospect that of a Russian World Cup in 2018 and the finals in Qatar in 2022. If it is good that power in the world game is being spread further afield, there have to be question marks over the way it is being spread.

www.true-faith.co.uk

There are already a number of issues around these awards of World Cup finals in 2018 and 2022. Firstly, there are persistent rumours about bribery. These rumours really need to be cleared up before either of these finals can be reasonably expected to take place. Secondly, there are issues about human rights in both countries, although of course, sadly, these kinds of concerns never seemed to worry those who allowed the finals of the World Cup CONTENTS

to be held in countries such as Argentina in 1978, with its vicious military junta. As Newcastle United supporters we should also be particularly concerned about the World Cup Finals being held in Russia in 2018, while the issue of just who was responsible for the downing of MH-17 over Ukraine last July still hasn’t been resolved. The biggest scandal over Qatar is the appalling death rate on the worksites of new stadia and the general lack of rights of workers. It is estimated at present that on the hot, dusty worksites of Qatar at least 1 200 workers have died, while in September 2013, the international Trade Union Confederation estimated that 12 workers will die per week, working long hours tf 37


The unfortunate truth for those in English game like Greg Dyke who are crowing about the fall of Blatter, is that whilst money is proving to the undoing of the ‘beautiful game’ at an international level, the same could be said about the Premier League. in temperatures of up to 50 degrees centigrade, on sites with little or no health and safety regulations. This will end up with as many as 4 000 killed building the stadia of Qatar, by the time the World Cup opens in 2022. Add to this the fact that many are little more than slaves, who are loaned the airfare to get to Qatar from desperately poor conditions and often have to borrow more for accommodation and other basic supplies, whilst their passports are taken off them, preventing them going home, away from the appalling conditions and shockingly low pay. We all love the World Cup, but isn’t the price being asked here, in terms of human life simply too much? Greg Dyke is of course delighted that Blatter has resigned, whilst the culture secretary wasted no time in saying that England was ready to hold the World Cup in 2022, if it couldn’t be held in Qatar. That is all well and good, but I do feel that Greg Dyke might be better advised to not spend all his time worrying about www.true-faith.co.uk

CONTENTS

Blatter and FIFA, but look much closer to home and investigate the owner of a major Premier League Club, who for a number of seasons now have made no effort to take the F.A. Cup seriously... The unfortunate truth for those in English game like Greg Dyke who are crowing about the fall of Blatter, is that whilst money is proving to the undoing of the ‘beautiful game’ at an international level, the same could be said about the Premier League. It is being argued by many in this country that, if you are weaIthy enough you can ‘buy’ a World Cup finals. However, it also seems clear from what is happening at Newcastle United, that if you are wealthy enough, you can buy a major Premier League club and use it for your own ends. The lack of regulation at both international and Premier League level and the way that money talks so loudly, drowning out other principles, such as human rights in Qatar and respect for a whole community in North East England shows just how deep the crisis in the game really is.. tf 38


Last day of the season and the collective sigh of relief was palpable. “Thank god”, we cried, “We can all rest easy. The nightmare is over ..... Ashley has pledged his future to the club”.

Andrew Trobe

SHOW US THE MON£Y

In a rare pre-match interview, Ashley committed himself to not selling Newcastle until he dies (well he actually said he’s staying until we win something but it amounts to the same thing). What is more he’s stated that he’s going to, ahem, continue investing in the club. So crack open the Cava and just watch the Man City style transfer bonanza in the summer. Dust off the passports. Champions League, here we come. What? You’re a tad sceptical? You old cynics. Second guessing Mike Ashley is akin to pollsters www.true-faith.co.uk

predicting a general election result. But let’s have a go. What can we expect from Newcastle in the transfer market in the summer? The deluded optimist in me says that this awful season is a watershed for Ashley. That the lack of depth and quality in the squad would be visible to Ray Charles. That he recognises this and will finally spend the required money to address the situation. That top drawer transfer targets have been identified and are just lining up to sign for the wages that Ashley is offering. I’ve heard sums of up to £100m mentioned as

a “war chest” for McLaren by our more ‘excitable’ supporters. The realist in me however says that he’ll stick to the same tried and tested failure formula as he has done for the previous 8 years. This formula dictates that Ashley will not dip into his own personal fortune (estimated in the Times Rich List at £3.75b) and the club will not plunge further into debt to finance signings (Ashley has not loaned the club any money since 2010).

The realist in me however says that he’ll stick to the same tried and tested failure formula as he has done for the previous 8 years

Last summer, NUFC had £34m in the bank, a net debt of £95m and had just made a profit of £18.9m.

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tf 39


Indeed only three clubs had a higher cash balance than Newcastle at that time (Spurs, Arsenal and Man Utd). A veritable position of strength, one might say. To be fair to Ashley, that rosy financial picture did mean he was able to authorise relatively high spending within the constraints of his transfer spending criteria. Riviere (£6.3m), De Jong (£6m), Perez (£1.6m), Cabella (£12m), Janmaat (£5m), Colback (free), Darlow (£3.5m) and Lascelles (£3.5m) were brought in for a total of £37.9m. Debuchy (£12m), Tavernier (£0.9m) andYanga Mbiwa (£5m) were sold for £17.9m. That translated to a net spend of £20m. The previous highest net spend occurred in those long forgotten halcyon days when we brought in Viana, Bellamy, Robert and Jenas in 01/02 for £28.6m (firing us to a Champions League spot rather than flirting with relegation).

www.true-faith.co.uk

So what is the position this summer? Are we in a similar place to spend as we were in the summer of 2014? Well unfortunately we’ll not know until next March when NUFC post their 14/15 accounts. But one thing’s for certain, Ashley will know exactly the current financial situation. And if the last 8 years are anything to go by, this will dictate what we will spend this summer. So in the absence of the 14/15 accounts to guide us to the available summer budget, let’s do what all accountants do and guess. Or what us accountants call “financial forecasting”. Needless to say, my guesswork could come back to bite me on the arse in a year’s time. But as I suspect most readers will have forgotten this article, within seconds of moving onto the next more interesting page, I’ll risk it. If we start with the 13/14 position, we can hazard a guess as to the money now

available by impacting the changes throughout 14/15. Let’s start with our income. We know our match-day receipts will likely reduce in 14/15 (despite our average attendance remaining virtually unchanged) as a result of playing three less home games (five times we were drawn as the away side in cup ties, five bloody times. Just call us “lucky”). We’ll also get reduced broadcasting income (merit payments) due to our 15th place finish. Whilst commercial revenue has risen by 86% from 11/12 to 13/14, I don’t expect a huge rise in 14/15 but should increase marginally. Next it’s expenses, the bulk of which is made up of players’ wages. This is a difficult one to predict (code for accountants not having a Scooby). Despite not signing a single player in 13/14, our wage bill increased by nearly £17m from the previous season (jumping from £61.7m to £78.3m). The reason for this is still not clear but

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Indeed only three clubs had a higher cash balance than Newcastle at that time (Spurs, Arsenal and Man Utd). A veritable position of strength, one might say.

tf 40


it’s largely attributed to increased bonuses as a result of our 10th place finish (we’d finished 16th in 12/13). So can we expect a similar wage bill in 14/15 as a result of our 15th place finish to that of 12/13? Well maybe. As well as the reduced player bonuses, since 12/13 we’ve lost Cabaye, Harper, Perch, Simpson, Gosling, Tavernier, Ameobi, Debuchy, Amalfitano, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon, Kinnear and Pardew off the wage bill. We’ve added Colback, Perez, Riviere, De Jong, Janmaat and Cabella (presumably Forest have picked up the bulk of the wages for Darlow and Lascelles). However other players will have got improved contracts and some younger players have broken through to the 1st team and will justifiably be receiving higher wages (well maybe not Sammy Ameobi). I predict a small reduction in wage costs. Player amortisation and profits / losses on player sales are the final variables when calculating the profit for last season. Explaining player amortisation will likely have you lapsing in and out of consciousness so you’ll have to trust me when I say it’ll probably increase by about £5m as a result of player purchases made last season. Worth flagging up here that player amortisation, despite the complicated accounting treatment, www.true-faith.co.uk

provides a good indicator of a club’s player investment. You’ll not be surprised to learn that Newcastle’s amortisation is one of the lowest in the Premier (Sunderland’s is over £30m and Spurs’ £50m) although it should be acknowledged that we tend to sign players

over long contracts which reduces the annual amortisation charge.

that (again as a result of

Finally, it’s profit/loss on player sales. Despite selling Debuchy, Tavernier and Yanga-Mbiwa for a total £17.9m, I calculate that profit on player sales will amount to about half

explain). We’ll lump the

accounting technicalities too

complicated

to

compensation for Pardew in here too (rumoured to be about £2.25m). So what does that give us? A profit of about £9.9m.

Newcastle United - Profit and Loss Account Forecast 2015

2014

Growth

% Growth

Match Day

24.0

25.9

-1.9

-7%

Broadcasting

72.1

78.3

-6.2

-8%

Commercial Income

27.2

25.6

1.6

6%

123.3

129.7

-6.5

-5%

Wages and Salaries

72.5

78.3

-5.8

-7%

Other Expenses

24.0

24.0

0.0

0%

Depreciation

3.1

3.1

0.0

-1%

Expenses

99.6

105.4

-5.8

-6%

EBITDA

23.7

24.3

-0.6

-2%

Player Amortisation

24.8

19.6

5.2

27%

Non Cash Flow Expenses

24.8

19.6

5.2

27%

Operating Profit/(Loss)

-1.1

4.7

-5.8

Profit on Player Sales

11.0

14.0

-3.0

-21%

Profit before Interest and Tax

9.9

18.7

-8.8

-47%

59%

60%

0.0

-3%

Turnover

Wages : Turnover CONTENTS

tf 41


So don’t rush out to get the letters M E S S I for your kids’ NUFC shirts just yet. Whilst we’re not in as strong a position as we were last summer for signings, there are some positives. Firstly, Newcastle may ‘only’ have made a profit of about £9.9m in 14/15 but they have accumulated profits of over £63m from 10/11 to 13/14. That’s an aggregated total of £73m which has delivered the current healthy cash balance. In fact, they were one of only three clubs to record profits in each of the last 4 years (Arsenal and WBA being the other two). To be fair, they also made cumulative losses of £86m from 06/07 to 09/10 which were subsidised by Ashley’s loans. Secondly, transfer fees do not hit the P&L account in their entirety in the year of purchase even if the whole transfer fee is paid up front (as NUFC tend to do). The transfer fee is spread, or amortised, over the length of the contract. So a player signed for £10m over 5 years will only result in an additional £2m cost incurred in that year. I did warn you that explanations about amortisation were not edge of your seat stuff. www.true-faith.co.uk

But it does mean that we can buy players and still remain profitable (which you may have noticed is important to Ashley) Thirdly, NUFC will no doubt offload a number of players who either want a move or have proven not to be good enough at this level. Anita, Gouffran, Obertan, Santon and Cisse will more than likely move on for a few quid and free up the wage bill for some additional purchases. Finally, and possibly most compelling, is that a new TV deal is on the horizon with even greater cash rewards available. The new deal with Sky and BT starts in 2016/17 and it’s estimated that a club finishing 10th will receive around £118 million a season, which would represent an additional £40 million for Newcastle. Whilst speculating to accumulate has not been a feature of NUFC’s recent transfer strategy, they may just loosen the purse strings on the basis that a TV windfall is just around the corner. So there we have it.The club is at a crossroads. We’ve appointed a new manager, sacked our coaching staff and appointed three new board members. The club

have even announced that they wouldn’t mind winning a trophy which is good of them. But the club can make all the backroom changes and grand announcements it likes but the simple reality is without investing in the first team, it will not make a shred of difference. A couple of strikers and a centre half is a minimum requirement. Not squad players but signings which will go straight into the first team. That will cost money. We can’t keep on expecting to purchase players like Demba Ba and Cabaye for less than £5m. I suspect like most fans, I don’t expect NUFC to win a trophy. I don’t expect NUFC to finish in a Champions League place. What I do expect is that our club can muster more than a single point from 11 games. I do expect us to compete with Southampton, Stoke and Swansea on the pitch. And I do expect us to compete in the transfer market with all Premier Clubs outside the ‘big 6’. Starting this summer, It’s time for the club to start living up to those modest expectations..

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I suspect like most fans, I don’t expect NUFC to win a trophy. I don’t expect NUFC to finish in a Champions League place. What I do expect is that our club can muster more than a single point from 11 games. I do expect us to compete with Southampton, Stoke and Swansea on the pitch tf 42


I’ve been going to SJP for over 27 years and battled through howling gales, driving rain, monsoon rain, fields of snow and nearly melted in the blazing sun. In fact one evening I trekked over ice sheets and got within spitting distance of the ground to find out the match had been called off. I’m pretty resilient and fiercely determined not to miss out on any game involving my beloved team. That was the case. The current season has been different though and the enthusiasm has gone but I still went if only to support the players on the pitch. However, I realised the professional, highlypaid players on the pitch were not performing for me and took the decision not to renew my season ticket, along with 5 others

in my row. It wasn’t just the ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude from the team but the overall abuse of my club by the greedy penny-pinching man at the top and the realisation that he would continue his policy of lies, deceit and strangulation of my club. I’ve had enough. Then along cameAshleyOut, a well-organised group

of supporters who were willing to spearhead action and arrange specific events to start the battle against the mega maggot owner of NUFC. It was easy to get behind this group and to actually consider boycotting a game. It was incredible to find so many others who were also up for a boycott and the opportunity to

PAT HUGHES

The People v Mike Ashley

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demonstrate how gutted they feel at the gradual and continual disintegration of everything NUFC. It didn’t take me long to put my hand up to help distribute leaflets prior to the BoycottSpurs campaign and whilst I waited for the posters to arrive I snapped the AshleyOut van as it began its tour of the area and posted this on Twitter. Now I’m not that big or important in the world of Twitter but my tweet was retweeted 65 times! It gave me a real buzz and a belief that something positive was really taking off at last. A friend and I set off along Newgate Street and by the time we reached Strawberry Place we’d run out of posters. Okay, not every single person wanted one and we were lucky in that no-one refused in a nasty manner and many who were going to the match still took one, along with advice to keep them out of sight of stewards! Apart from the huge numbers who did boycott the game, one real positive www.true-faith.co.uk

was the amount of coverage by the media in general and the opportunity for various spokespeople to tell it like it is and dismiss the previous view that we are a deluded bunch with unrealistic expectations. It’s always annoyed me that some pundits think we think we should be dripping in cups and trophies. No, a bit of ambition and competition will do me. You couldn’t really miss the little plane buzzing around, doing its bit courtesy of the silly sods down the road but in many ways it simply focussed attention on SJP and highlighted what was happening. I also took part in the protest outside that shop in Northumberland Street before the Swansea game, not many there in the pouring rain but I still felt good about taking part and again it was great to see the media present. I was in two minds about going to the match that day but decided I needed to be there to brandish my red card and take a picture of my seat, just in case I don’t go back

again for the rest of this season! I’ve been in that seat since the new Leazes opened and it seems strange to think that someone else might be sitting in my seat in the future. Anyway, I left at half time and we were 2-1 down by the time I went past the ground and 3-1 by the time I got home. Sadly all a bit inevitable and predictable. Like many I was appalled by the C4 Dispatches programme, in fact I was more appalled than I thought I would be. I told my elderly mother about the programme and she said it sounded more like the workhouses in the 1920’s her dad told her about. Sounds about right. But on a positive note, if there can be one, it really showed Ashley in his true colours and demonstrated his ruthless and blinkered view on a life that revolves solely around SD. I hope the PL / FA take note of his policy to use a football club and associated community for his personal gain. I’m sure the PL has a remit to support the football

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Apart from the huge numbers who did boycott the game, one real positive was the amount of coverage by the media in general and the opportunity for various spokespeople to tell it like it is and dismiss the previous view that we are a deluded bunch with unrealistic expectations.

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community and it’s about time they got off their thrones and asked the right questions regarding fit and proper persons. It’s not just us being used and abused either but Rangers, Blackpool and others. It certainly does seem that Ashley is seriously rattled when his advertising outlet (SJP), sweatshops and workhouses are brought into focus via TV, newspapers and other media sources. Perhaps that’s the way forward. Perhaps we should join forces with other clubs and put serious pressure on the PL / FA to bring football back into communities. We need to put more pressure on politicians to review the whole football industry and demand that football becomes a sport again and not a money-making business for the rich. I didn’t get the government I wanted but that shouldn’t detract from getting on their backs and reminding them all about the various

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pledges made in their manifestos. Pressure and protests are the way to go.

the sorry state of my club which only reflects the sorry state of football in general.

Following BoycottSpurs, AshleyEmbargo, Swansea Red Cards, the release of the club accounts, the C4 programme, the proposed earlier than usual Fans Forum meeting, the excellent ‘like it is’ articles in the press etc., I can only see the momentum building and it gives an excellent platform for AshleyOut to be really effective as more fellow fans join in and support their campaigns.

I know there are some who are not prepared to boycott games and feel their place is inside the ground and it’s only right their views should be accepted and respected. Likewise those who do want to protest and boycott. Everyone to their own.

The various media articles are having an impact and I’ve had messages of support from Chelsea and Arsenal friends so our plight has reached, been appreciated and understood by those in the south! Perhaps reaching out to supporter’s trusts far and wide will give greater weight in the fight for fairness, respect and our sport back because my dissatisfaction goes beyond

I won’t be at SJP next season but that doesn’t mean I’ll be hiding in the woodwork. I’m in for the long battle and even though the club has changed beyond recognition, the love is still there and even Ashley can’t steal my memories of better times. The formation of AshleyOut has given me belief and I hope others feel as enthused. It could be a lengthy fight but what a wonderful start – let the battle continue until better times return.

CONTENTS

I won’t be at SJP next season but that doesn’t mean I’ll be hiding in the woodwork. I’m in for the long battle and even though the club has changed beyond recognition, the love is still there and even Ashley can’t steal my memories of better times.

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Richard Scudamore The Football Association Premier League Ltd 30 Gloucester Place London W1U 8PL Â

Dear Mr Scudamore, attention. It is my belief that one I write to you concerning an issue which I believe needs to be brought to your ting in a manner befitting the of the member clubs of your competition, namely Newcastle United, is not opera sporting integrity of said competition. d does not prioritise sporting It is evident that the business strategy of the owners of Newcastle Unite um possible to remain in the competition. The club is being run in such a way that it seeks to do the minim the club amassed a reasonable League. This is evident over both the current season and the previous one, where remainder of the campaign. This number of points by January and proceeded to meander its way through the and relegation battles towards sets a worrying precedent, as it can have an impact on Championship, European e, and at the worst blatant the end of the season. This shows at the very minimum disrespect for the Leagu disregard of its competitive aspect. ity of the Premier League, but It is my belief that, not only are Newcastle United devaluing the sporting integr in future enter into. Broadcast they are also devaluing sponsorship and broadcast deals that you have or will ar and highly regarded leagues in companies pay a high premium for the rights to show one of the most popul and that every club in the league world football. They do so presumably in good faith that every game matters, clear that Newcastle United are goes into every game with the intention of trying to get a positive result. It is l of the current owner. not doing this, and have no intention of ever doing this while under the contro to League competition, but to This business strategy of the club can be seen not only from their approach are not a priority for them. On cup competitions too, which the Club have stated on a number of occasions indicated that they had no wish a number of occasions the club, mainly through its previous manager, also run to the UEFA Europa League to qualify for European competitions, presumably down to the fact that their er League that almost relegated Quarter Finals in 2012/13 was coupled with a 16th place finish in the Premi the club. success of the Premier League Mr Scudamore, I ask you to look into this issue as a matter of urgency. The essence of being a football fan depends on every one of its member clubs operating with sporting integrity. The successful. Failing that, the least is supporting your team, not in expectation, but in the hope that they will be doing this, and I would like to you ask of them is that they try their best. Currently, Newcastle United are not e can do to ensure that they do know what your thoughts on this matter are, and also what the Premier Leagu member clubs will see it as a not continue to do this. If they are allowed to continue, more and more of your letely null and void. This will path to follow, which will render any competitive spirit the league once had comp will not continue to associate cause problems for the League as fans, sponsors and broadcast partners alike of their ability. themselves with a League where member clubs are not competing to the best MATTHEW CLOSE – Newcastle United supporter

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After the nightmare of the 14/15 season it’s only right players are question in terms of performance and their place at our club and it’s only right to start at the much talked about Tim Krul.

He’s the Keeper MICHAEL BROWN – Follow Michael on @MBbrownFootball Since he arrived from ADO Den Haag in 2005 as a 17 year old, Newcastle always said he was one for the future and a great prospect, and after his unforgettable debut against Palermo in 2006 every Geordie was excited about the talent Tim had, a few seasons later, a loan spell in

Scotland and relegation, Tim stepped into the breach in our Season in the Championship as Steve Harper was injured and Tim never looked back and after our promotion back to the premier league Tim established himself as the Newcastle’s number 1.

Illustration by www.marcjennings.co.uk www.true-faith.co.uk

Krul has easily been one of Newcastle’s best players the past few seasons, even winning player of the month under Alan Pardew in the season when we hit the dizzy heights of 5th. Since then I just don’t think he’s developed his game any further even the 13/14 season he was just fairly average and his for this season hasn’t been anywhere near what we normally get from Krul and only 8 clean sheets this season and a defence more leaky than FIFA corruption so it’s not all down to Krul but when I’ve watched it’s like something is missing with him, Does he want a move away? Has the World Cup Took it out of him? I’m not sure all I know is he can’t have another season like this again. A few seasons ago I would have easily had Krul in my top 7 keepers in the Premier

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League possibly even top 5 other than the likes of Cech, Reina and Van Der Sar other than them you would of had Krul in amongst them but now Tom Heaton of Burnley has had more clean sheets (14) this season and after this season I wouldn’t put him in my top 10. His development over the past 2 season has stalled quite dramatically yet nothing in the coaching has changed, keeper coach Woodman has been there for a few years and was there when Tim won the player of the month award so I wouldn’t put it down to Woodman as to what has happened to Krul. Krul has always been so consistent for Newcastle, if the rest of the team were having a bad game you www.true-faith.co.uk

could always rely on Tim to make a crucial save and you always felt you had a chance with him between the sticks, but this season he’s really struggled to find that level of consistency I know we have lost Pardew this season but the warning signs were there before Pardew’s departure to Crystal Palace with his form and attitude not as it usually is and I just hope his mind wasn’t set on a move away from Newcastle. Krul is a player I really do like his commitment over the years has been faultless but I can’t help but feel maybe Newcastle have developed him as much as they possibly can but the problem for Krul is I can’t see a bigger club than Newcastle signing him, no way would any of the top

7 sign Krul as they all have keepers I would say are just about on par with Krul and most of them have keepers better than Krul so his development would be even more hampered sitting on say the Spurs bench playing second fiddle to Lloris or Forster at Southampton and there is no chance of him getting a game with any of the top 5 but I do think a top team in France, Spain or Italy would benefit from having him. I would much prefer to see him stay at Newcastle though I just think he’s maybe relaxed Knowing he’s number 1 and that no one is realistically capable of testing him, he knows he’s guaranteed a game as there is no chance of Rob Elliot keeping Krul on the bench.

CONTENTS

Krul is a player I really do like his commitment over the years has been faultless but I can’t help but feel maybe Newcastle have developed him as much as they possibly can

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Hopefully this problem of Krul not being tested for the number 1 jersey will be addressed over the summer and maybe we need a keeper that will help keep Krul on his toes and hopefully start to bring the best out of him again because when he’s good there isn’t many keepers better, the only keeper in the pipeline that looks like he could challenge Krul is Karl Darlow. Newcastle signed the promising shot stopper early last season and sent him back on loan to Nottingham Forrest, Newcastle also bought Jamaal Lascelles from Nottingham Forest he was also sent back on a season long loan. Darlow has had a steady season with Nottingham Forest totalling 42 appearances for them this season which will be a great advantage to us as he’s had plenty of game time and extra experience along with an impressive 13 clean sheets which

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given how Nottingham Forests season panned out is pretty impressive, Krul only managed 7 clean sheets all season finishing 14th for the amount of clean sheets which for our club and a keeper like Krul its just simply not good enough. It remains to be seen if Darlow will be a good enough challenge for Krul, I really hope he is because if we don’t start to see the best out of Krul next season not only will he come under even more scrutiny but he might lose his love for the club and want seek a move away which I personally don’t want to see there isn’t many Newcastle players that would say they love the club but Krul is one of them so to see him leave would be tough but to help Krul he needs a good keeper challenging him, our shambolic defence needs updating and we need a stability back in the club if we can get these 3 things sorted over the summer,

and I’m pretty confident we can, then hopefully we should see our old Krul back in top form again. In goalkeeping terms he’s still relatively young at 27 as some keepers don’t start to play their best until they are over 30 and even at that age a lot of keepers still play top level football well into their late 30’s so Krul still has a good 10 years of playing at the top level if he wanted to. Next season is a huge season for both club and Krul another shambolic season like this one then Newcastle will be in serious trouble of losing their best players as they won’t want to stay with a club that can’t hit the top 10 at least and I wouldn’t blame the likes of Krul wanting to leave if the club can’t maintain at least a top 10 push every season, that needs to be our minimum target. Let’s hope next season is a one to remember for all the right reasons and that we get Krul back to his best.

CONTENTS

but to help Krul he needs a good keeper challenging him, our shambolic defence needs updating and we need a stability back in the club if we can get these 3 things sorted over the summer, and I’m pretty confident we can, then hopefully we should see our old Krul back in top form again.

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From Manchester with Love Exiled Mag, Chris Humble has had his love of football rekindled at a club founded and owned by its supporters. He tells us the tale… The last year of my football life has been a strange one to say the least. Like any other Mag I never thought I’d support another club, sing their songs or want my kids to follow anyone but Newcastle United. But here I am a member and proud supporter of FC United of Manchester. Firstly, some context. The last match i attended was 3 1/2 years ago at Man City where the ticket was £45 to watch us get a routine stuffing. The last game I watched on TV was the first 0-3 v the www.true-faith.co.uk

Mackems. From then on other commitments as well as the way our club was being run has led my once rabid support for our club to be slowly eroded in a painful and long drawn out separation. I still follow the results but for about the last year I just feel i don’t care that much any more. The closest I got to any feeling was when Jonas scored v West Ham but that was more for the man himself than anything else. Living in Manchester i feel that my removal of support (as little as it was)

will have been alot easier than the heart wrenching decisions people have made to chuck season tickets held for years but it still hurts. However my issue with football is not solely down to Mike Ashley and his horrific way of running a once proud sporting institution. It’s come to the point where cash rich clubs monopolise the top places, 5-15th is full of distinctly average teams and the rest are usually utter shite. This does not make for the best league in the world.

CONTENTS

Chris Humble

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This is where FC United come in. I love football but for me the top level game is now a bland, money orientated wasteland, I was looking for something more. Something closer to what I value in a club and what I thought Newcastle United once was. A club that a city could be proud of and that could serve its local community. Passionate fans and an affordable day out at the match. FC United tick all of these boxes. I have always been intrigued by the idea since i heard it

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floated as the Glazers got their hands on Man United but never gave it much thought until I heard they were looking to build a ground in Newton Heath, where Man United formed. However council cuts following the coalition government coming to power meant stadium funding was pulled. Then better news for the club and me came when the council suggested land in Moston, north Manchester, could be used. Even closer to home! I kept a close eye over the years on the

stadium news, even if i wasn’t following the team at that point, as they won a protracted legal battle against local residents opposed to the building. Anyway, over the last year i started to follow the club more closely and theyve slowly taken priority over Newcastle United in the results I look for. Ive been pulled towards their way of doing things and this year signed up as a co-owner where i have as much say in how the club is run as the 4000 other people. But as much as I’ve joined up

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I’d never been to a game! That is until now. The new home Broadhurst Park (FCUM Hall - fuck em all, was suggested....) is now open and i attended both a test event and got my hands on a much sought after ticket for the official opening game against Benfica. I’d watched the build from the outside and also seen pictures of the ground from the club but I wasn’t prepared for the actual experience of getting in the ground. Every detail has been thought out carefully, there is a large terrace behind one goal

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and paddock standing in front of the main stand seats, for a start. And they have pulled it off in style, the St Marys Road End is a 2,500 capacity terrace where i took my place for both games along with the most vocal support. I’ve not been on a terrace since 1993! On the support, its comepletely organic - there’s no ultras organisation (and I’m a fan of these groups too) people just bring their voices, flags and brilliant songbook. As far as I’ve seen any attempts at “banter” chants fizzle out quicker than they appear too, which is nice. As

you would expect that songbook includes a few from the Man United back catalogue but this pales in comparison to the reworkings of the pistols, stranglers and Pogues befitting of fans who have taken the term “Punk Football” to their hearts. The flags are a mixture of professionally and home made efforts, though not the daubed bedsheets that we are used to - there’s some hard work gone into them. And there’s also a set of fans standing near me who share my love of Pulp, a banner at the test event read “brothers and sisters can’t you see,

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the futures owned by you and me” in reference to supporter ownership. The bars are brilliant too, the overpriced swill that’s served in most grounds is replaced with locally brewed beer (the lovely two hoots ale, £2.60 a bottle!) and the catering is all provided by local businesses that don’t need you to take out a mortgage to buy a pie. On to the games and the test event between the first team and an invitational team ended in an entertaining 3-2 win for FC, though the match wasn’t at all serious the

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atmosphere was electric with excitement at the fans being in a ground they built for the first time, over 3000 people turned up having only been given 6 days notice of the match. And if that was good the Benfica game was something else. A compete sell out of over 4200, i wedged myself into the packed, loud St Marys Road End and couldn’t help but be swept up by it all, on around 70 minutes i broke into my first chorus of “United”, something unimaginable to me not so long ago! Though i will never sing THAT version of the Blaydon Races. FC matched their more

illustrious opponents but were undone by one goal near the end, Benfica as expected were fitter and more technically able but the running and skill of the FC lads had them pinned well back at times. At the end both teams paid respects to both sets of supporters and in something far removed from the premier league the bar remained open after the match, result! On my way home i took the time to take in the magnificence of the empty stadium and the achievement of fans originally motivated by anger, an energy as someone once said.

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I mentioned the ticket price for my last Newcastle United game, well for Benfica I got a match ticket, 3 beers, a programme and a better time for less than £20. Couldn’t ask for more. If you’re ever in Manchester and they are at home, get yourself down you’ll not regret it. Lastly, one of the most

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fitting aspects of the whole stadium was incidental. Under the St Mary’s Road terrace they installed a bar for the Benfica match. Stamped on the metal girders in this area, likely for security during the build, was the wording “Property of FCUM” - a testament to what this stadium and club is about, and who runs it.

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Sunday May 25th 2015, the day of the final league game of the season against West Ham, saw a notable first for Newcastle United fans. No, it wasn’t quite the first win of the season, or the calendar year, though it might have felt that way. The first I’m talking about was Mike Ashley being interviewed live on TV. It was of course on Sky TV and his interviewer was David Craig, chosen media mouthpiece for some time now, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that this was no Paxman-style grilling. There was still a lot for us to learn though, some of it spoken but mostly from reading between the lines.

Garbo talks The first question to ask was why he did it at all. After eight years of owning the club, why did he choose that day in particular to open up and not just release a statement but talk in person? The obvious inference to take is that the protests against his ownership which had been going on for a few weeks before that had started to hit home. After all, for someone who is supposed to be indifferent to the opinions of fans, this wouldn’t be the first time he’d reacted to chants and banners and tried to address the problems publicly. He was very quick in promising to sell the club after protests following Kevin Keegan leaving the club in 2008. I can’t help feeling there’s more to it though. If we know a ny t h i n g www.true-faith.co.uk

about the owner it’s that the financial imperative is at the forefront of his thinking. He was clearly uncomfortable to be there and no doubt would rather have been doing virtually anything else, exactly as he has done for the past eight years. He’d have to be in danger of losing an awful lot of money to break his habit and expose himself like that. With the season ticket deadline for yearly renewers extended to June 10th, the only loss he could be aware of at that time would be cancellations of direct debits by people on the multi-year price freeze deal.

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mark brophy

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So it seems a reasonable assumption that the interview was directly provoked by the numbers of long-term season ticket holders cancelling, and the sense that mood would result in a large number overall failing to renew if nothing was done. His motivation was to persuade waverers not to cancel. Further extensions to the renewal deadline later on back up the desperation inherent in this explanation. Maybe the initiative will be successful too, if it’s backed by something approaching impressive squad building in the summer to go along with the new coaching team. Which brings us to what was and wasn’t said. It’s quite striking on watching the interview again how much of what a fan might regard as encouraging news

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was actually referred to by Ashley as a continuation of existing activity. Where a fan hears a pledge to invest, Ashley says he’ll continue to do so. He evidently thinks he’s done enough up to now though to be fair he did imply an increase when talking about punching above our weight financially. Where we might be encouraged by him saying he’ll play no part in appointing the new manager, he mentions as an aside that Lee Charnley and the football board will do it this time just as Derek Llambias was responsible for appointing Alan Pardew. Any hope of better decisions through him loosening his grip on the reins is therefore misplaced, because as far as he is concerned he hasn’t been making the decisions up to now either. It’s telling also when you

link this with his comment that the responsibility for what has gone before lies at his door. If he was separated from the decision-making which caused the disaster but is ultimately responsible nevertheless then it follows that the only sanction left to him is that of owners towards failing executives and managers everywhere: to wield the axe. So far only John Carver and his staff have borne the brunt of this. Further failure must surely see his sights swing onto Charnley and Carr. In a way, some of his other comments cast them adrift and prepare them to be held to account for how the future goes too. Ashley was very specific in saying his job is to maximise the financial resources available and the football board’s job is to extract the best value in performance from

CONTENTS

Which brings us to what was and wasn’t said. It’s quite striking on watching the interview again how much of what a fan might regard as encouraging news was actually referred to by Ashley as a continuation of existing activity

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those resources. After the very mixed results of last summer’s signings, it would seem that if value for money isn’t gained from Newcastle’s next set of buys Ashley won’t consider it his own fault. He didn’t just set a trap for Charnley and Carr though, he set one for himself. In saying that the club were in a sound financial position and able to punch above their weight in their spending relative to their position he did what no-one able to speak for Newcastle ever does; he raised expectations rather than lower them. We all know what the profits were at the last count, how much was in the cash account, and that there’s been another TV payout since then. As a member of one of our transatlantic fan clubs might say, you do the math. He also acknowledged the view common among www.true-faith.co.uk

pretty much anyone who pays at the gate that being financially robust, while important, isn’t the whole story. He made a nod to the need to translate that into on-pitch performance. To that end, he claimed his ambition was for Newcastle to win something and he wouldn’t be leaving until they had. By the way, Mike, qualifying for the Champions League is nowhere near counting as winning something from this side of the fence. He’s only got himself to blame if that expectation brings pressure and criticism should things go wrong. Are Newcastle really aiming to win a trophy? If they are it would be a complete turnaround in objectives from everything we’ve recently known about the club. The idea of the club switching focus like this is utterly bizarre. For it to happen its entire ethos

would have to change too, away from merely milking bare survival. Imagine the meltdown if they spent nothing again once people have been persuaded to renew . Newcastle under Ashley do have a history of telling lies in public as a PR exercise however. This would be the most blatantly barefaced attempt to mislead ever if it were a lie. For that reason it’s hard to credit that they’re trying to pull a fast one. Lying is only worthwhile in this situation if people are likely to be fooled. Our only option is to wait and see while maintaining a healthy level of scepticism. Or to put it another way he can laugh at us, continue as before and see protests really kick in next year, or he can make a change and try to run the club the way we’ve been hoping he would for so long.

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Are Newcastle really aiming to win a trophy? If they are it would be a complete turnaround in objectives from everything we’ve recently known about the club

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true faith has been established since 1999 as one of the most successful, influential and best-selling fanzines in the country. Its success is based upon the contributions of Newcastle United supporters. As we move into the digital age and take up the opportunities for new forms of supporter expression, true faith is at the forefront of the new fanzine culture and develops its digital fanzine (what you are reading now), its match-day e-newsletter, The Special, its Podcasts, its video-blogs and of course the website. We hope to be positioned for anything else that develops over the next few years as well.

Write for true faith To continue to progress we obviously need the ongoing contributions of supporters. People who, for better or worse, love Newcastle United FC and care about this Geordie institution of ours and want to express themselves with regards to how it is being run, its fortunes on and off the pitch and the whole world in which it lives and operates. We also want to record the lives of the people who like you love Newcastle United, how you feel about www.true-faith.co.uk

it, your memories, hopes and fears and we want to do that whether you are a home and away zealot, season-ticket holder, whether you go when you can or whether you are a disaffected ex-matchgoer and whether you live a stone’s throw from St James’ Park or on the other side of the world from Tyneside. We also want to know you if you are an exile and immersing yourself in a football culture in some far flung place or even if you happen to have

gone to a game in some out of the road venue we’ve never heard of. In recent years we have had some genuinely brilliant pieces from Brazil, Spain, Germany, Italy, Senegal, the USA and plenty more. Closer to home we really do want to know about your forays into the wonderful world of North East non-league football. As regular readers will know, we also have a passing interest in music, film, books and even art - so if you have been to

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see something interesting and want to review it for true faith, we’d be really interested in talking to you about it. Its not just about writing though - we’re keen to speak to designers, artists, photographers and God knows what else. If you want to get involved, just drop us a line. If you have workable ideas - just get in touch - we’d be delighted to hear from you. As ever, just contact us on editor@true-faith.co.uk tf 59


Well that’s it! Another general election out of the way with the Conservatives now holding all of the aces. But regardless of your politics what does this mean for football fans? Especially in relation to football governance and supporter representation? Particularly in light of the fact that we all knew that the football authorities, especially the Premier League, have not generally shown to be in favour of anything other than ‘self-governance’…well, from their own personal perspective, why would they? Politicians across all parties have been common in their condemnation of the lack of governance within football and the need for change. In 2011 the then Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson described football ‘as the worst run sport in the country’. However, the football authorities have been reluctant to accept this suggestion.

parties…I include the Lib Dems in this. …all released manifestos which included ‘football governance issues’.

2. Encouragement to get more women and ethnic bodies on boards of governing bodies

Starting with the ‘losers’,

3. Minimum of 5% of TV revenue to go to grassroots sport

The Lib Dems pledged to 1. Introduce football changes to governance and legislation required to give fans a say in running of the game’

It was therefore interesting to see how each of the major political parties positioned themselves in relation to these issues given the recent general election. In the run up to the election the three major

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The Labour party pledged to 1. Give football fans a voice in every club boardroom and the right to buy a slice of their local club 2. Apply pressure on sports bodies to employ more women and black and ethnic minorities. In relation to both parties you have to say the manifestos both containing laudable objectives, the labour party perhaps going further with their pledge to get supporters in the boardroom.With Newcastle and the surrounding areas predominantly labour it was no surprise that our own Supporters Trust (NUST) have been working close with our local MP’s to raise these issues and get them onto a national level and into the Labour election manifesto. It was interesting to attend the NUST organised ‘political football’ conference last year at the Miners Institute on Westgate Road where local MP’s Mary Glindon and Ian Mearns both spoke. www.true-faith.co.uk

Ian in particular will be recognisable to many Mags for his home and away support over the years. The Conservative party did not go as far as the others and their own manifesto in relation to ‘football governance’ but pledged to; 1. Improve quality of Community Sports Facilities and aim to fund investment in artificial pitches in over 30 cities. 2. Support school sports with £150m a year for primary schools. 3. To lift the number of women on national sports governing bodies. Whilst all 3 pledges are positive proposals unfortunately none do much for ‘football governance’ and none help give a greater say to supporters in the running of their clubs. On first impression you can easily form the view that a Conservative win was not good for those fans who supported the concept of

increased governance and supporter involvement :but regardless there is no doubt that ‘football governance’ has moved up the political agenda. Historically, the level of detail in pre- election manifestos regarding such matters was non- existent. Perhaps, more importantly, the level of interest from football supporters in relation to ‘football governance’ and ‘supporter representation’ has grown to a level that could have hardly been imagined in the past. In the run up to the election football supporters led by the Football Supporters Federation campaigned for supporters to petition candidates in each constituency to sign up to changes by which football clubs must be committed to the interests of supporters, rather than shareholders.

Whilst all 3 pledges are positive proposals unfortunately none do much for ‘football governance’ and none help give a greater say to supporters in the running of their clubs.

Up to Election Day fans of 137 clubs (Premier League/Football League/ Non-League) in 566 of 650 constituencies had petitioned 3461 of their

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local candidates. What is quite clear from these figures is that football fans across the country really do care about such matters and whilst historically football and politics may have not traditionally mixed that is not the case now. As I understand it the FSF are continuing this strategy and the next phase will involve lobbying MP’s who have been selected, to effect change, regardless of political affiliations. As well as the efforts of the FSF national supporters Trusts organisation ‘Supporters Direct’ introduced its own manifesto in March 2015 which included a call for increased ‘football governance’ and ‘supporter ownership’ . Regardless of the result of the general election and the general view that the

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‘winner’ had less within its manifesto than the ‘losers’ there is a sense that the football landscape is changing….we even see that fan ownership has made its way into the Premier League at Swansea City. As I mentioned previously ‘football governance’ has cross party support .To provide some comfort to those fans who think that the failure to elect a labour/ lib dem government was the end of any chance of football reform I would point out that perhaps one of the most outspoken advocates in favour of football governance/ supporters representation over the last couple of years has been Conservative MP for Portsmouth Penny Mordaunt who said the following in the House of Commons about her local

club; ‘..If a supermarket – Tesco, say-folded in my constituency, I would comfort my constituents with the fact that they can buy their bread and milk from Sainsbury’s .I could provide no equivalent comfort to Portsmouth football fans by pointing out that they can buy their season tickets from Southampton, a bit further along the coast. That is clearly nonsense, and it goes to the heart of what is special and unique about football clubs. They are more than just businesses .football clubs bring tremendous economic value to an area, but they also carry tremendous social value’. Spot on. Regardless of political manifestos and their content, the times they are a changing.

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‘Supporters Direct’ introduced its own manifesto in March 2015 which included a call for increased ‘football governance’ and ‘supporter ownership’ .

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When that second goal went in, I screamed. I screamed like I have never screamed before at a football match. The noise was deafening as the rest of St. James’ Park followed suit. As one we rolled back in time, we were lifted from out seats, united in an unbound cry of raw, unadulterated pleasure. There were hugs, spinning scarves, a city remembered what it was to celebrate, to feel that love that has been absent for so long and in that moment, for around ten, beautiful seconds, the toxic drudgery that was the 14/15 season melted away; the whitewash of corporate greed that held the stadium, the city in its terrible reverie was momentarily cleansed.

MATT STARK

I AM LEGEND

And what a moment it was. Watching the video still sends a tingle down my spine. (and I especially like the pie-ing off of John Carver during the celebrations!)

millionaires, it was about one man.

That goal was not about staying in the Premier League, it was not about the galvanisation of a listless and lacklustre side of lazy

way, did what we asked for, all we asked for; this man who’d been dealt a raw deal, a bad hand; the cast off from a sinking ship, a

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This man meant something to us much-maligned, much-derided Geordie fans. This man in his humble

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stubborn knot in the wood who had refused to budge. This man played with fire, with passion, with a dogged determination to fight, to strive, his heart proudly displayed on his sleeve for all to see. Jonás Gutiérrez encompassed the ideal echoed in the terraces, the bars, on the steps of the Gallowgate, that banner ‘A team that tries’. We were there with you Jonás, when you tore off your shirt and hurtled back across that pitch, the deafening bellow of St. James in full voice, fuel for that inner furnace of yours, alight with a searing flame. We turn that cold shoulder with you, a bitten thumb at the fleeting sentiment of the hierarchy that did its best to wash you pale, our hands to your ears and our mouths casting curses to www.true-faith.co.uk

the upper echelons. Like you said, like you always said Jonás, once a Geordie, always a Geordie. You were one of us. Signed to United from Real Mallorca in 2008, Jonás Gutiérrez was Kevin Keegan’s first major summer acquisition and it was clear to see why he warranted such excitement from the boss. Keegan knew that the winger was a proper Newcastle United player he had the two things that the fans fed off - flair and heart. I, like, I imagine a good deal of you had never heard of Gutiérrez before he joined United. The very fact that he was rumoured to don a Spiderman mask when he scored as well as his nickname ‘El Galgo’ or ‘the greyhound’ already boded well.

Born in Sáenz Peña, Buenos Aires, Jonás began his career at Vélez Sársfield where he won the Primera División Clausura Tournament in 2005 before joining Real Mallorca for three years. Watch Jonás scoring for Real Mallorca here:

As has been alluded to quite eloquently on the True Faith Weekly Podcast, Jonás impressed in his first season; his mazy runs down the left wing, the ball seemingly glued to his feet. Gutiérrez’s impressive play was sadly cut short before

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being overshadowed by the resignation of Kevin Keegan and the contemptuous joke appointment of Joe Kinnear as manager. During the last of those dark days, Jonás was consigned to sit on the bench as money-hungry, shameless mercenaries mentally compiled the next page of their selfaggrandising brochure advertising their soul for sale at any price rather than fought for the team that paid them. Newcastle were consequently relegated and against all odds, thrived in the following Championship season. It was largely down to the spirit and heart of players like Jonás, who stayed and fought for the cause rather than wait for ‘a bigger club like Arsenal or Tottenham to knock on the door’ (To be fair to Charles N’Zogbia, Wigan were a premier league club in 2009 and we weren’t.) The following season in 2009-10 was probably Jonás Gutiérrez’s finest year www.true-faith.co.uk

for the club. The spiderman mask was flourished from its sock-sheath several times and his link-up play with one-time United fullback, now Liverpool fourth choice goalkeeper and 1/10 fanrated José Enrique was cemented with an almost instinctual understanding down the left flank. Jonás’ had found his niche and stated several times how much he relished playing for the club. This sort of example, this lionhearted relentlessness, not only from Jonás but players like Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and the emergence of formidable fibreglassjointed striker Andy Carroll shot United to a relatively easy automatic promotion. Interestingly (or, if you want a tabloid-esque nonstory), Jonás claimed that it was his own formidable locks that inspired Carroll’s hairstyle. “When I came here, he had really short hair. Then he saw me and wanted to look as good as me.”

In the following 201011 season, Whilst Carroll caught England’s eye, it was Jonás Gutiérrez whom Lionel Messi waxed lyrical about in the press: “The Premier League have not seen it yet but Jonas is one of the best players in the league. I know you guys have Rooney, Fabregas, Torres and many more stars – but Jonas is as good as any of them. Maradona calls him one of the three most important players in the Argentina squad and I think he is right – that is how good he is. “ I’ll let you be the judge of which accolade is the more impressive. Two more impressive seasons, Jonás Gutiérrez was one of the most consistent players; yet it has to be said a marked change came about after José Enrique joined Liverpool in 2011. By the end of the 2012-13 season, there were rumblings from many supporters as his form had begun to dip. A collision

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“The Premier League have not seen it yet but Jonas is one of the best players in the league. I know you guys have Rooney, Fabregas, Torres and many more stars – but Jonas is as good as any of them. Maradona calls him one of the three most important players in the Argentina squad and I think he is right – that is how good he is. “ Lionel Messi

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with Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna saw Jonás seek treatment for a recurrent pain in his testicles and subsequently discover a tumour that needed removing. Watch Jonás’ tradmeark ‘Spiderman’ celebration plus a really classy goal.

After being treated in Argentina, over the summer Gutiérrez returned to the UK to be told in no uncertain terms, by Alan Pardew, to look for a new club and this is where perspectives get blurred. We will never really know the extent to which the club knew about Jonás’s cancer; the club claim they knew ‘for some time’ “The club has been aware of Jonas’s condition for some time but has respected

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his wish for privacy as he undergoes treatment with his friends and family around him.” and I can’t conceive that that didn’t include his chemotherapy in Argentina during the summer of 2013. Jonás himself did not reveal his struggle until

September 2014. Then there is the thorny issue of being asked to find a new club upon his return. There are a number of ways this can be interpreted.When Jonás himself spoke about his struggle to Argentinian television in 2014, he rued the fact that he had been a regular first team player: ‘In the middle of December the coach (Pardew) told me that the best option was that I looked for a club. Yes (I was surprised) because I had

always been playing, for five years, always playing, and to then go to the situation where they wanted to loan me out.’ This suggests that it was the fact that he had been a regular starter for the team and had fallen out of favour rather than the return from cancer that had irked him. Indeed, his comments in the press in March (2015) “I returned mid-November (2013) and at the beginning to mid-December the manager said I should find myself another club, that it was best. I understand a lot of things about football that, well, that for the directors it is a business, no?”

Then there is the thorny issue of being asked to find a new club upon his return. There are a number of ways this can be interpreted

“It is clear that they look after the club’s interests, but I think in a situation like that, you need to save (consider) other things, even more as I had been playing for five years before having this problem. I was always playing.” What can be gleaned from this clusterfuck of a situation is that yes, Jonás Gutiérrez’s form had dipped slightly before he was treated for

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cancer (understandable) and perhaps it was this that drove Alan Pardew (if it was actually his decision, we’ll never actually know) to suggest he looked for a new club. In purely football terms that makes sense. However, this is not just about football and as the man himself alludes to, there are other things to be considered. What cannot be denied is that this shows a disgraceful and unforgivable lack of simple humanity and compassion from the club. I imagine Newcastle United employ someone to advise them on PR and if so, this was a catastrophic failure on their part and yet another ill-informed and mid-boggling display of what we have come to expect from a club being run as a the sort of advert for cheap sportswear you see in the breaks between a Geordie Shore omnibus.

on the hollow corporate attitude of the club when we can celebrate a man?

It beggars belief that there was no small offer of compassion, when full and unequivocal support should have been in place to a man who has not only battled cancer but shown true dedication to his club at the same time. What cannot be denied by any means is the hamfisted way the club went about things and still are. “What I can say is that it hurt me very much when they told me to look for another team after that I had the surgery. I had been at the club for five years – that was tough.”

Watch how the fans react to Jonás’ return against Man utd. And not long after an inkling that a crack in this soulless corporate mask might just be starting to open, the club almost acknowledging that they have made mistake in this context, we hear that Gutiérrez has been let go via telephone call. A telephone call to someone else’s phone. So why waste more words

Jonás Gutiérrez symbolises something special, that strength and dignity can overcome. He once said that Andy Carroll should not cut his hair because, like Samson, he would lose his strength. Jonás lost his hair but became even stronger. Tackedon corporate branding, hideous and exploitative loan-shark sponsors and a push to make football a ‘brand’ before it is a game will all dissipate in time; the fire in the heart, the pride in the shirt and that final goal on the final day of the season was testament to someone who has been branded onto the hearts of Newcastle United fans for ever.

There’s a nice tribute video to the man himself here. www.true-faith.co.uk

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“Come on, it will be fun, and we have a good chance of getting tickets. And you know how cheap alcohol is in Poland...” This was my mate Tomek’s convincing argument for applying for UEFA League Final tickets (apparently it’s not called the UEFA Cup anymore...). After waiting a day for him to send me his ID details (needed for every application), I sent off our application on the UEFA site for the cheapest tickets we could get. Then, I remembered that the Champions League Final was in Berlin this year – which would be a 20-minute road-trip for me, door-todoor - so I rushed to the application section for that, only to find I was a day late. So, it would have to be Warsaw or nothing.

NEIL CRANSWICK

GEORDIES HERE, GEORDIES THERE... Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 2 - 3 Sevilla FC Attendance 45,000, 27th May 2015 Stadion Narodowy, Warsaw

To be honest, I’d almost forgotten that we’d applied for tickets until I got an email at the end of March to say we’d been succesful, and would be paying 40€ each (although, plus 20€ postage) for the final. Even though I’d seen Toon in the semi-final of this competition against Marseille, this seemed the only likely way to be able to see a European final in the

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flesh, so we quickly sorted train tickets. I left sorting a place to kip to Tomek (a Pole), and he didn’t disappoint, arranging for us to ‘borrow’ someone’s flat in the city centre for about 40€. So, we sat back and – despite being excited for the final – only kept half an eye on which teams were progressing. Our

interest waned even more when Zenit fell out of the competition, as the Poles as a rule hate the Russians, and we were hoping to see a bit of extra spice to proceedings. Actually, the only game in the competition I’d seen this whole season was the second half of Sevilla’s semi-final second leg win against Fiorentina. And that was only on German TV as Mario Gomez was on the bench for the team from Florence... Anyway, we left Berlin at

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6:30 on the morning of the final, and settled-in for the journey by discussing FIFA corruption. Surprisingly, a few minutes after we changed subject, I checked my phone and read of the FIFA arrests in Zurich, so we spent the largest chunk of the almost six-hour train journey either sleeping or following The Guardian’s live blog on our phones, hoping for more arrests. After quickly sorting our stuff, we headed off to Legia Warsaw’s stadium to have a look around. Unfortunately, the inside wasn’t open to the public as the police had closed it off so the teams could use it, but we managed a quick beer there, and then headed to the Warsaw Rising museum, which Tomek wanted to see. Not the standard away trip behaviour, especially when the museum was full of

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schoolkids, but the subject was really interesting and very well-handled. Despite spending several school years looking at World War II in history, I’d never heard about the Polish underground in Warsaw who had tried to take the city back from the Nazis, or how they were strung along and then outcast by Stalin once he completed his ‘takeover’ of the rest of the country. Those were some very brave (and ultimately, unlucky Poles) - you can read more about some of this period here, if it takes your fancy. After the museum we grabbed a bit of kip, some quick food, and then headed to the Polish National Stadium. It’s a very new stadium, having been built for EURO 2012, but still looks and feels like a real football stadium – with just one, admittedly large exception. If any one has

ever read any of my match reports from Germany before, you will know that one of my pet hates is when you can’t get a beer at some games... Needless to say, it was with great disappointment that I had to buy an alcohol-free beer for the match. I only bought one, though, and made it last. Bastards... Having won the tournament three times in the last nine years, Sevilla were the clear favourites for the game, although there was a lot of sympathy for Dnipro among neutrals for making it as far as they did, despite having to play their home games in Kiev due to the situation in Eastern Ukraine. This, added to the stories that the players helped to pay for the club’s fans to make it to Warsaw made Dnipro a popular underdog.

Pictures from warsawuprising.com

Despite their underdog status, though, Dnipro

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quickly went into the lead during their energetic start to the game. Trying to hit Sevilla with long-balls paidoff quickly as Kalinic flicked a header into the path of Matheus, who then looped a cross behind the centreback for Kalinic to nod the ball past Sevilla’s keeper in the seventh minute. All around us, people jumped to their feet to celebrate, with the obvious exception of the Sevilla section (a long-throw from our seats), for understandable reasons. Dnipro continued to press Sevilla aggressively, stopping the Spanish team from finding any kind of rhythym, but Sevilla slowly came into the game, stringing a few passes together, and then a few shots at goal. After Jose Reyes (ex-Arsenal – remember him?) had one of his shots blocked, Sevilla managed to take advantage of the corner. The ball bounced to the Pole, Grzegorz Krychowiak, who nudged it away from the defender, and fired it through another defender’s

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legs and into the net. Naturally, the stadium erupted with the local boy scoring - especially the Sevilla fans (this time!). A few minutes later, Carlos Bacca was played free of the Dnipro defence, and calmly rounded the keeper (who had a very good game) and rolled the ball inside the near post. Dnipro had begun to tire, allowing Sevilla to begin to fully take control of the game. I confidently predicted that this could end up five-one, and stood by that until just before halftime, when Ruslan Rotan floated a lovely free kick over the wall and past the keeper into the top corner. Game-on. The second-half saw Sevilla continue to dominate, but it took almost half an hour for them to get their noses in front again – the ball bounced around between defenders deep in the Dnipro half, allowing Vitolo to play a defence-splitting pass, which Bacca (again) ran on to and steered past the

goalkeeper with the outside of his left foot. Dnipro kept hitting long-balls forward, but it was clear they were a spent force once they went behind again. So, at the final whistle, Sevilla deservedly won the Europa League/UEFA Cup (whatever...) for the fourth time in ten years (and twice in two years), but the fans still celebrated the trophy like it was their first. Yet, strangely enough, despite their enviable track record in this tournament, they’ve never been involved in a relegation battle over this last decade, and in fact even managed two third place finishes.Who would have thought that was possible!? Dnipro: Boyko; Fedetskyi, Douglas, Cheberyachko, Matos; Kankava (Shakhov), Fedorchuk (Bezus);Matheus, Rotan, Konoplyanka; Kalinic (Seleznyov) Sevilla: Rico; Vidal, Carrico, Kolodziejczak, Tremoulinas; Mbia, Krychowiak; Reyes (Coke), Banega (Iborra), Vitolo; Bacca (Gameiro)

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E M M A R G O R P Y A D H FREE MATC ND GAME KE EE W Y ER EV R FO U YO TO D LE AI EM

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Well that’s another season done and dusted. Well in truth that’s not quite true as there are still play-off games being played here and I actually attended a game last Sunday (07/06/15). More of that later.

TONY HIGGINS @Higgins1892

Personally I have just completed two whole seasons without seeing a single United game, despite having the opportunity this season of seeing them twice. My devotion to the Black & White cause is dwindling by the week as Mike Ashley continues to rip the heart out of a once great club. Don’t get me wrong I jumped off the sofa and punched the air when Jonas scored the second against West Ham but I don’t know if I was celebrating for the team, the club or the fans, more www.true-faith.co.uk

likely for the man himself after coming through all he has come through. I get my football kicks now here in Spain and share my football devotion between a number of clubs, all special for their own reasons. I follow the fortunes of CAP Ciudad de Murcia, SD Eibar, Cadiz CF and Athletic Bilbao. All of these clubs have had an eventful 2014-15 season. CAP Ciudad de Murcia play in the lower reaches of the Spanish pyramid and this season managed to secure CONTENTS

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promotion to the Tercera Division (Group 13). This is effectively the Spanish fourth division but like most things in Spain is a bit complicated. For example there are 18 regional groups of around 20 clubs in each group; therefore there is approximately 360 clubs in the fourth division! All that said it’s a great achievement for a club that is wholly run by its fans and has achieved 3 promotions in 5 seasons, since reformation in 2010. I had a great day as they celebrated promotion with 2 games to spare and it was good that some people from FC United of Manchester came over and lent Ciudad their champions’ banner. There is a great relationship between the two clubs. To cap off a great season the club also won best fans in the region award for the second season in a row.

category. This category has four regional leagues of 20 clubs therefore there are 80 clubs in this category fighting for four promotion places to Segunda division. Cadiz had to play against Oviedo in a two legged match. Oviedo won the tie 2-1 on aggregate and were promoted meaning that

Cadiz had to drop down into the next category of matches. Cadiz can still be promoted but they have to now play two more matches played over two legs. To be fair Oviedo ,like Cadiz, deserve to be playing in at least the Segunda and both clubs would not be out of place in La Liga.

Further up the pyramid Cadiz FC won the championship in the Segunda B (Third Division) www.true-faith.co.uk

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Cadiz was drawn against Alicante club Hercules, which is about an hour away from where I live. Hercules has a great little ground and about 500 Cadiz fans made the 8 hour journey to Alicante, for a Sunday night kick off. The level in Segunda is good and the game was very entertaining, with Hercules running out 2-1 winners on the night. The second leg is scheduled in Cadiz for Sunday 14th June. If Cadiz manages to turn the game around they will face another two legged game which will mean their season not ending until the end tf 73


of June! There is a big crackdown on ultras in Spain at the moment and I witnessed something I had never seen before in all the years that I have been going to games. About midway through the second half the police entered the Hercules section and proceed to throw out the whole

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section of ultras, around 700-1000 fans. Apparently the action was undertaken because of the displaying an offensive banner. It was quite a surreal action, in fact the whole game had a 80s feel to it with the holding back of Cadiz fans at the end of the game and police escorts etc.Â

The week before my trip to Alicante I went up to Barcelona to sample a cup final atmosphere. The game at Camp Nou was played between Barça and Athletic Bilbao and it was reported that as many as 70,000 fans, 30,000 without tickets, were traveling to the Catalan capital. I watched the game in a couple of bars around the stadium and later went to the fanzone ,that had been set up for the Athletic fans by Barcelona town hall. The place was absolutely heaving and despite their defeat the Basque hordes looked as though they were enjoying

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themselves. The game has become famous in Spain due to the fact that both sets of fans booed the Spanish national anthem before the start of the game, some fans in fact turned their backs to the pitch. It is a wellknown fact that many Basques and Catalans want independence from Spain and are no lovers of the monarchy, the king was in attendance at the

results seen them drop down the league like a stone and they were relegated on the last day of the season. I saw Eibar play at Almeria, who were also relegated, in a dreadful game back in May and wasn’t really surprised when they finished in the bottom 3, despite beating Cordoba 3-0 in the last match. But this being Spain there is always a surprises and

match. There is also talk that both clubs could be barred from entering next seasons, what happened to freedom of expression?

Eibar may be handed a reprieve, due to the fact that Elche could be relegated for financial irregularities. Elche owe the tax man €3.4 M and it has been judged that they don’t have a suitable payback plan in place meaning that they will be demoted in a similar way that Real Murcia were demoted to Segunda B last season. It’s never dull here I can assure you!

If you have been following TF Real Spain you´ll know all about the story of little SD Eibar from the Basque Country. They dramatically won promotion to La Liga last season and even though they have no debt and are well run they had to raise €1.7M in shares to compete in the top tier. Anyway, they done that and have been playing in La Liga this season. They started the campaign quite well and looked like they were going to establish themselves. However, a bad run of www.true-faith.co.uk

Well there you have it my round up of the season, I hope that you have enjoyed reading this and I hope you all have a great summer!

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On the 7th May 1971, the awaiting press at St James Park included a Bob Cass of ‘The Sun’ who said “This is the first time I’ve seen a player actually arrive in his signing on fee.”

Marc Corby @NUFC_1980_1994

SUPERMAC It broke the ice for the arrival of Newcastle’s new number 9 who, despite claiming it was his chauffeurs idea in later years, had arranged with his sponsor to take him from Luton Town in a Rolls Royce. The flamboyant striker Malcolm Macdonald had arrived. Starting his football league career as a left back under Sir Bobby Robson at Fulham, an £18,500 move

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to ‘The Hatters’ in 1969 saw Macdonald develop into a goal scorer where 27 goals helped gain promotion from Division 3 and 30 goals the following season ensured a top 6 finish in the 2nd tier.

“When I got the go-ahead I had to move quickly as other teams were interested. For a 21 year old, Malcolm has everything, and I’m sure he’s going to be a star. He has a priceless knack of getting goals out of nothing.”

Following Newcastle’s 1970-71 season ending 6 days earlier with a 12th placed finish, manager Joe Harvey would speak highly of his new signing:

The £180,000 transfer fee paid for Macdonald was a new club record by some distance over the £100,000 spent on Aberdeen’s Jimmy ‘Jinky’ Smith in

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1969. Indeed United had originally offered £300,000 for Macdonald and Luton centre half Chris Nicholl but, despite money troubles, the offer was turned down. As Macdonald didn’t ask for a transfer, he pocketed a cool £9,000 (approx. £124,000 in today’s money) of the transfer fee. Welcomed and shown around Tyneside to pick his new home by Jackie Milburn immediately after the press conference, Macdonald was seen as the man to partner January’s arrival John Tudor. They both had the instant pressure of becoming the new replacement strike force for the highly popular duo of Pop Robson and the soon to depart Wyn Davies. Harvey then heaped a lot of expectation on Macdonald saying: “I just know this fellow can be another Jackie

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Milburn for our supporters.” A bold prediction on a player with no top flight experience but regarded so highly he had cost only £20,000 less than Martin Peters, the record signing in England at that time. At this point Macdonald showed a first sign of the cocky and somewhat arrogant characteristics everyone outside of Newcastle would love to hate: “People told me I would never make it. Every goal I scored was one way of paying them back. Perhaps this has finally convinced them they were wrong. I can’t stop laughing!”

at Crystal Palace (0-2) and drew at Tottenham (0-0) in the season’s opening games. However, in the days of 7p match programmes and extremely rare T.V coverage, United’s supporters were quick to see Supermac’s more positive traits in his home debut v Liverpool on 21st August 1971. Aggressive in the air and fast over 100 meters, it was a thunderous left foot shot that would clearly become his main attribute.

Despite scoring on his United debut in a 1-2 friendly defeat at St Etienne, his first 2 competitive games drew a blank as United lost

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Seen as the most memorable home debut for a United player since Len Shackleton’s 6 goals in 1946’s 13-0 record league win over Newport County, following his 2nd goal, Macdonald was christened ‘Supermac’ when supporters took the ‘Superstar’ tune from the ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ rock opera and sang in unison “Supermac, Superstar, how many goals have you scored so far?” Macdonald would later define the chant as “One of those wonderful moments that football creates.” Going into that match he would also describe himself “Nervous as hell and I felt like a fish in a goldfish bowl” but confirmed “My 2nd goal remains one of the best I ever scored.” As the side around him would take time to adapt to Harvey’s change from a ‘Wyn Davies inspired www.true-faith.co.uk

long ball game’ to a more entertaining style of football, it was clear over the coming months that Macdonald was a player who would make his own fortune. Striving to be a role model like Milburn before him, the 14 league goals he scored in his first 21 games returned little as United, failing to score in 10 of those games, sat 16th going into Christmas with only 4 wins secured. In the days of the Texaco Cup, Supermac has also scored 6 cup goals going into the FA Cup 3rd Round replay at Hereford United where, despite scoring to give United the lead, United were subject to arguably the biggest Cup upset of all time when losing 1-2 to the non-league side. “I can’t escape it, its painful... horrid.” said Macdonald later recalling that day. With ‘The Mags’ now out of all Cup competitions, a

surprise win at Old Trafford the following week was game 4 of an 8 match unbeaten run (6 wins) that eased any relegation worries thanks in particular to a further 5 goals from Macdonald.

As United’s returned to inconsistency again to finish only 1 place higher than the previous season, Macdonald was clearly the highlight. Following his 30 goals in 52 league and cup games, Supermac would say: “Joe Harvey was terrific, a lovely man and told me ‘2 good seasons and you will be in the England side. Give them what they want.’”

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As Macdonald was rewarded a full England call up 2 weeks after the season ended in Wales (3-0), he would remind us: “You learn to play and scoring goals raised confidence, and it didn’t take me 2 years, it only took 1.” Despite United playing in a style to suit Macdonald’s best assets, some would point at his lack of defensive assistance and overall work rate affecting results but Supermac would always tell critics to “Put your goals on the table” answering personal negativity brashly. Although bandy legged and toothless on the pitch, Supermac dressed like a popstar off it as he was frequently spotted in Newcastle’s finest Restaurants and Nightclubs, sipping on Champagne of course. www.true-faith.co.uk

The 1972-73 season started as inconsistently as the previous campaign had ended with 2 wins and a draw from the opening 7 league games. Sitting 15th, Macdonald had contributed 4 goals before unbeaten leaders Arsenal came to St James Park in September:

Revie’s current Champion’s Leeds.

The following week, Supermac scored a ‘perfect hat-trick’ (right foot, left foot, header) at Coventry in a 3-0 win before grabbing his 10th league and cup goal of the season in a 3-2 home success over Don

Disappointingly, League and FA Cup exits at home to lower league opposition and only 1 win in the final 9 league games returned a 9th placed finish although United would win theAngloItalian Cup 2-1 against

Despite losing midfielder and playmaker Tony Green a couple few weeks earlier in an injury that would sadly end his career, United would reach 5th top by March following only 3 defeats in a 20 game run.

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Fiorentina. Ironically, with 24 league and cup goals to his name, Supermac would miss the success due to another England call up. Winning 9 of the first 16 games in the 1973-74 season would see United sit in 2nd place come 17th November. Despite missing 6 games through injury, Macdonald had contributed 8 goals and United had genuine hopes of a Championship challenge. Sadly this was as good as it got as an appalling run returned only 4 wins during the remaining 26 games of the season and a 15th placed finish. However some would point at the FA Cup run as a reason for the poor form. Following replay wins away from St James Park over none league Hendon and 4th tier Scunthorpe, it was a 5th round visit to WBA that Macdonald would later describe as “The finest team performance I’ve ever played anywhere for anyone.” Backed by an www.true-faith.co.uk

estimated 15,000 travelling supporters, United turned in a performance, albeit against a 2nd tier team, that matched the efforts from the terraces.

Newcastle went into the Semi Final at Hillsborough with 7th placed Burnley as slight underdogs and despite the favourites having most of the possession,

Trailing 1-3 and down to 10 men, the 6th Round home tie with Nottingham Forest saw United’s supporters invading the pitch and hold up play. Once re-started, a remarkable comeback saw a 4-3 win but Forest claimed the disturbances affected their performance and the match was annulled by the FA.

Macdonald would turn on the style in his finest hour.

Following a 0-0 draw at a neutral Goodison Park, the tie was settled by Macdonald in the replay 3 days later at the same ground (1-0).

Perhaps it was fitting that Terry Hibbitt, signed for £30,000 during the same summer as Macdonald and labelled as the man to “provide the bullets

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for Macdonald to fire” by Harvey, provided one of the most memorable passes in our history to assist one of the most iconic goals. United faced Liverpool in a first Wembley final for 19 years but Macdonald, who had scored in every round, rather embarrassingly did most of his talking off the pitch. Himself and ‘The Mags’ never turned up and Liverpool’s dominance simply mocked Macdonald’s false promises of what he would do to their back four. Following the disappointing of losing the FA Cup Final, Macdonald, scorer of 28 league and cup goals the previous season, continued the 1974-75 season in fine form. 19 goals in all

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competitions by the turn of the year, United had also bagged the Texaco Cup for the 2nd successive year.

32 goals from Macdonald and 18 from Tudor, United finished 15th.

The highlight was a 5-0 win over Chelsea at St James Park that included a brace from the star striker.

By the time the 197576 season kicked off, Joe Harvey accepted a ‘move upstairs’ and Gordon Lee arrived to become the new

Sadly, yet more inconsistent league form coincided with Cup exit’s to lower league sides Chester and Wallsall and despite an impressive

Newcastle United manager. Starting off on bad terms by asking “Gordon Who?” when informed of his appointment, it was obvious

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Lee didn’t believe in ‘star players’ such as Macdonald. Several publicised disagreements didn’t help the relationship but when Lee told the listening media following one match that new signing Alan Gowling was the best striker in the country, it was obvious Lee was looking to build his own team - without Macdonald. Despite the drama off the field, both strikers had scored 10 goals each following a home win over Norwich on October 10th

As the season developed United would yet again be dragged back by inconsistency in the league but more positively took a liking to the Cup competitions. Following a 3-2 aggregate win over Tottenham to reach the League Cup Final for the first time, United played Bolton away in the FA Cup 5th Round, a match that would see one of Macdonald’s greatest strikes.

come out victors 2-1 and the following week saw an injury hit United go down 2-4 at Derby in the FA Cup Quarter Final. In goal scoring terms only, Lee would be correct as the season ended with Gowling outscoring Macdonald 31-24 in all competitions but, as United stumbled to 15th for the 3rd successive season, “Lee wanted me out. I never wanted to leave. I loved it on Tyneside – they were the best days of my life.” Macdonald later said. “He (Lee) didn’t

like certain individuals.” 2 goals in a 3-0 win at Tottenham on the last day of the season would be Macdonald’s farewell with Arsenal signing United’s main man for the rather peculiar transfer fee of £333,333. When faced against his old employers the following season, Supermac would

score a hat-trick at Highbury in ‘The Gunners’ 5-3 win and also notched another on Gallowgate (0-2) in April. By then little tears had been shed when Lee left United in 8th place to jump ship to relegation threatened Everton. Newcastle, now managed by Richard Dinnis, would improve to finish 5th and qualify for Europe. Indeed Macdonald would later confirm what most United supporters knew – Lee didn’t appear to be the right man for the United job: “I wasn’t on the same wavelength as Lee, but most importantly, he wasn’t on the same wavelength as Newcastle United” he said. Sadly for Supermac injury ended his career at 29 and despite managing a Fulham side to the verge of the top flight in the early 1980’s, life after football has not been kind. A recovering alcoholic, 2 failed marriages, a conviction for drink driving and a failed business venture ending in bankruptcy aside, his controversial opinions as a radio pundit such as branding Kevin Keegan “a spoiled brat and a cry baby” will not endear him to recent generations of United’s support.

Lee wanted me out. I never wanted to leave. I loved it on Tyneside

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For the Record: • The one that got away, Chris Nicholl, made his name captaining Aston Villa as they won the 1977 League Cup final. As well as playing with Kevin Keegan at Southampton, Nicholl managed ‘The Saints’ from 1985-1991. • The 8 match unbeaten league run in Macdonald’s 1st season was Newcastle’s best return of points during his stay at United. United would come close with another 8 match unbeaten run during August and October 1974 (4 wins, 4 draws). • Despite half of Macdonald’s 14 caps and all 6 goals achieved under Don Revie, Macdonald would claim later that his goals in successive wins over Leeds in 1971-72 and 1972-73 would later affect his England opportunities under him. • Allegedly, Revie told Supermac the press had forced his selection and he refused to congratulate Macdonald following his goal against World Champions Germany and his record equalling 5 goals against Cyprus.

However, his determination not to sit on the fence regarding United taking a similar strategy they were using when he was a player show a sign of frustration on par with many supporters. A public ridiculing of the St James Park ‘name change’ in 2011 also shows signs of a man who understands what we’re about.

Whoever wears the famous number 9 shirt can become an instant hero.”

Indeed, summarising his time at United when speaking to club historian Paul Joannou in 1995, Supermac would say: “St James’ Park is the best place to be for a centre-forward. You could feel the supporters blowing you towards the goal, the roar was incredible and it made you want to run and take people on.

However, alongside the likes of Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand, Peter Beardsley, Andy Cole and Kevin Keegan, the lack of silverware ensures Macdonald will forever be held in high esteem on Tyneside and should always be a ‘chapter’ when educating the ‘story’ of those who contributed happier times.

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Rather frighteningly, almost 40 years have passed since Macdonald left St James’ Park therefore classing Supermac as a ‘modern era’ cult figure maybe a little generous to those of us who refuse to grow old.

• Including Texaco and Anglo Italian Cups, Supermac scored 138 goals in 256 (1) for Newcastle and with 12 strikes is the highest scorer in United’s League Cup History. Supermac’s Dream 5 aside team (2013) Peter Shilton / Pat Jennings Colin Todd / Roy McFarland Alan Ball Alan Hudson Malcolm Macdonald What they said: “Macdonald was the best of the old fashioned centreforwards.” - Albert Stubbins. “He has thrown the coaching manual out of the window.” – Jackie Milburn. “Sideburns like a cowboy, built like a middleweight boxer, possessing the speed of a human Concorde and blessed with an explosive, blistering shot.” ‘Football League Review’ magazine, Sep 1972. “A bright light in an otherwise not so great period, he gave them a lift when the team itself couldn’t.” Kevin Keegan. “I was their (supporters) kind of player and they were my kind of people. My best years were with Newcastle and my, did we party!” - Malcolm Macdonald.

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“They raise a phenomenal amount of money from TV rights and it was a phenomenal amount of money the clubs made in profit. It’s a very wealthy league. I would like to see much more of that money go down to the grassroots.” These are the words of a girls youth football team coach, giving her views on the Premier League and the link between the broadcasting rights fortune the League made from its latest TV deal and grassroots football. Strong words that take on extra importance when said coach also happens to be the new Minster in charge of Sport and Tourism at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Sport loving, Tottenham supporting, vinyl enthusiast (according to her Twitter profile) Tracey Crouch is one of the new faces at the DCMS, alongside the Department’s new Secretary of State, John Whittingdale.

Promoted to their new roles through a Cabinet reshuffle after the Election last month, both MPs enter their new digs having served time on the Select Committee that oversees the work of the DCMS (Whittingdale chairing it since 2005). During their stint, the committee authored a report calling for reform into football governance, particularly at the FA. Now that the two have transferred from Committee to Government, what does that mean for football, its governance and us as fans? Given that the only reference to football in the Conservative manifesto related to

increasing community pitches, perhaps a closer look at their background, parliamentary careers and short time in their new roles to date might tell us. Whittingdale Despite this being his first Cabinet position, Whittingdale is a prominent figure within the Conservatives. Head of the political section of the party’s Research Department in the early 80s, he became a Special Adviser in the Dept of Trade and Industry under successive T&I Secretaries. He was then Political Secretary to Margaret Thatcher during her final years in Number

10, and continued to be so until becoming an MP in 1992. He held a few shadow cabinet posts under Duncan-Smith and Howard’s lead, including that of the very post he now occupies. His appointment to this role first in July 2002 for 18 months, then again in June 2004 marked the start of his association with the Culture, Media and Sport brief. After the 2005 election Whittingdale was selected to Chair the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, a post he held for ten years up to last month. During this period he is probably second only to Margaret Hodge as the

Football Politics MATTHEW CLOSE Follow Matt on @mc2810

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select committee chair with the most visible public profile, partly for leading the committee’s inquiry into phone hacking, and partly from a sporting perspective for leading inquiries into both football governance and England’s failed 2018 World Cup bid. Under Whittingdale, the Committee took a strong line on football governance, proposing amongst other things in its 2011 report: · Reform of the FA Board and Council so that they function effectively and set the strategic direction for English Football · Increased support for Supporters Direct and ensuring clubs engaged with supporters · Tighter enforcement of the ‘fit and proper persons’ test for prospective football owners

· That the FA review grassroots spending and benchmark it against leading European countries. 18 months on, dismayed at the lack of progress, the Committee released a follow-up report, criticising the football authorities for not making enough progress, and recommending that if they wouldn’t do it voluntarily, that the Government force change through legislation. A good sign, provided Whittingdale takes this no-nonsense attitude with him into Whitehall. Since his Cabinet appointment, Whittingdale has quickly had to broaden his football governance scope to the part time football administrators of FIFA (Federation of Incomprehensible

Fuckwittery and Arseholery). Responding to an Urgent Commons Question after Blatter was re-elected (and before he quit), Whittingdale remarked that the Government would do everything in its power to bring about change at FIFA, calling Blatter ‘utterly discredited’ in the process and reiterating the Government’s support for the actions of the Swiss/US investigators. He also didn’t rule out the so called‘nuclear option’ of the FA leaving FIFA. It is early days, but the FIFA scandal has provided us with an indication that Whittingdale will continue to press for reform within football as Minister in the same manner he has done on the select committee. Crouch In contrast to Whittingdale, Crouch is a Parliamentary

junior, having first been elected in 2010. Two stints working for Conservative MPs in Parliament sandwiched a spell working for a public affairs consultancy, before she moved in 2005 to become Head of Public Affairs at Norwich Union/Aviva. Upon entering Parliament in 2010, one of her first problems was that she was prevented from playing for the Parliamentary Football Team, by rules preventing mixed gender squads, something which gained her an early bout of publicity. She found her way onto the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in 2012, missing the original Football Governance Inquiry but being present for the follow up that lamented the lack of progress made by the governing bodies. Passed up for promotion in the

18 months on, dismayed at the lack of progress, the Committee released a follow-up report, criticising the football authorities for not making enough progress, and recommending that if they wouldn’t do it voluntarily, that the Government force change through legislation. A good sign, provided Whittingdale takes this no-nonsense attitude with him into Whitehall. www.true-faith.co.uk

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last Parliament (for being a tad rebellious in some big votes), Crouch hasn’t wasted time in setting out her stall as Minister. Already in one month presenting herself as more active with regard to football than her predecessor, Helen Grant. In her first major speech she listed improving the state of the nation’s grassroots sporting facilities as one of her priorities. As the quote from the beginning of this article shows, she wants the Premier League to contribute more towards this than they currently do. As does this one: “I think the fact we are still lagging behind other footballing nations in our facilities is appalling and I really want to make sure the Premier League make a decent contribution to improving that situation. I am genuinely rather appalled that they don’t.”

Strong words. Welcome words too, indicating a genuine desire to see the billions generated from the PL’s TV deals put to good use. The difficulty will, of course, be whether strong words can lead to strong action, but hopefully Crouch will be able to use her own experiences as a coach to her benefit in any talks with the Premier League. Crouch has also matched her boss’s desire to see reform at the FA, as well as the ongoing docu-soap that is FIFA. Before Blatter resigned in circumstances as farcical as we’ve come to expect from the part time film producers, Crouch was busy writing to her Ministerial counterparts across Europe to provide political support for a possible UEFA withdrawal from the part time criminals. She also urged FIFA’s sponsors to pile the pressure to reform on the beleaguered crooks,

or alternatively walk away. As with her boss, early indicators of Crouch’s outlook towards how she’ll perform look promising When putting this profile together I’ve been mindful of the fact that it is early days as far as the new Government is concerned. These two haven’t been in post for long and will take a good few months to properly get their feet under the table, so to speak. However, I do believe that these are two positive ministerial appointments as far as football fans can be concerned. The appointment of a Secretary of State who seems like he won’t put up with any nonsense as far as football governance goes is good for football fans, and particularly pleasing is a Sports Minister who gets football and understands the importance of investing in grassroots. The lack of

information on football in the Conservative manifesto (and sport really, which combined with culture and media got a whole three pages) is disappointing, but perhaps offers a chance for organisations and fan groups to lobby DCMS with some proposals they can use to fill those blank spots. For supporters of Fan Ownership for example, the Select Committee’s support of help for fan groups and of Supporters Direct provides a good opportunity: Whittingdale is already familiar with the issue and will hopefully provide friendly ears. Both of them could be allies for anyone wanting to positively influence the football landscape, and I hope that they get the time and resources to shape our game for the better.

In her first major speech she listed improving the state of the nation’s grassroots sporting facilities as one of her priorities.

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As I write this 24 hours after Newcastle United managed to stumble themselves over the Premier League safety line, it is time to reflect on the past season and specifically looking at the failures within the current squad of players. John Carver has proven himself (unsurprisingly) to be a manager not fit for purpose, yet it would be remiss not to evaluate the men on the pitch who have also been culpable of this awful campaign. Let us review the players who have most disappointed this year by position, and what the future holds for each:

DISAPPOINTMENT Goalkeeper An interesting season at St James Park between the posts, where Newcastle have seen three of their Goalkeepers feature, and four of them make the match day squad. Jak Alnwick was thrown in at the deep end due to injuries suffered by Krul and Elliot, and we were quickly taught the importance of having someone assured and competent with the gloves on. Needless to say – our first choice keeper still appeared thirty one times, and hasn’t shined whatsoever. Tim Krul: Widely touted as one of the League’s best keepers three years www.true-faith.co.uk

ago, the decline of Tim Krul over the past two seasons has been startling. Recognised for his superb shot stopping ability in times gone by, the Dutchman has been responsible for letting too many stoppable shots go past him, and a real lack of command of the below par defenders he has in front of him. Whilst kicking has never been Krul’s forte- this has been incredibly exposed this past season, and the away fixture at QPR demonstrated that this lack of skill leads to us conceding goals. I’m not really sure what the future holds for Krul, and I can only point to the fact that he has not had sufficient quality in reserve pushing for the first choice spot, which

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RICHARD SMITH @RICHYSMITH100 may be a factor for his huge slump. Perhaps incoming signing Karl Darlow is the man to do that- although I would be reticent to expect a Championship keeper provide us with the reassurances at the back that we so desperately need. Andy Woodman must also take huge responsibility for making what was once a very valuable asset-so error prone and under developed. Defence I struggle to recall United ever having a defense to be truly proud of in my twenty odd years of following them, however the current back line is certainly up there with the worst of the lot. Janmaat aside- there isn’t one United defender tf 88


to come out of this season with any sort of worthy praise in my opinion. Although Dummett and Haidara have shown they should be at least kept in the squad, an absolute revamp of our back line is needed in the Summer as a huge priority. Fabricio Colocinni: Certainly one of Newcastle’s most accomplished centre halves in our Premier League history, the Argentinian is another who has rapidly gone downhill over the past couple of years. You only need to look at the sheer number of goals we regularly concede to know that Colocinni no longer has the ability to perform solidly over the course of a Season. He has often been criticised for not demonstrating the leadership skills required of a Captain-and you would have to say that this year more than others he has gone into hiding when the g o i n g has got tough. It said it all for me that during the abhorrent run of losses suffered under Carver, young and inexperienced lads like Ayoze Perez and Dummett were www.true-faith.co.uk

continuously pushed in front of the media to face up to the music, whilst our ‘Captain’ snuck away from the limelight. Colo certainly showed what he is capable of with a very dominating performance against West Ham on the final daybut these performances have just been extremely too few and far between. Overall, a decent servant for us-but I think its time to let him enjoy his wind down in San Lorenzo.

Mike Williamson: I don’t necessarily think Mike Williamson has ‘let us down’ this season per se-purely because the bloke simply should not be starting week after week in a Premier League side. The reality is, it’s down to the gross mismanagement of our club as to why he has been selected for the vast majority of our fixtures over the past two years. I actually think Williamson is one of the few who actually looks like they give 100% each game, and applaud him for that. The bottom line is though, that this season

is just one too many in the Premier League for the limited centre half, and he has shown this time and time again with mistakes, poor ability, nervousness on the ball and the conceding of goals a plenty. I would say his red card against Leicester was not so much ‘on purpose’, but more born out of frustration and lack of technical ability. You would like to think that Williamson will finally be moved on this Summer, and I genuinely wish him well. Midfield The area of the pitch where I held most hope for us last Summer, returned such lacklustre results and performances for us time after time.We undoubtedly have a reasonable amount of ability in our midfield ranks across a select group of players, however some of these simply failed to perform and live up to the standards they are supposedly capable of. Much hope was pinned on Rolando Aarons and Siem De Jong – however both of these proved that they have serious underlying injury issues, and practically missed the entire campaign. Moussa Sissoko: I have to sayout of all of the players in

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our squad; it is Moussa Sissoko who I somewhat begrudgingly hold in most disgrace for this campaign. This is a player who arrived onto the Newcastle United scene in January 2013 with some barnstorming performances, and demonstrated the sort of box-to-box competency we haven’t seen since the days of Rob Lee. Fast forward two years, and the Frenchman has been a complete shadow of what he is supposedly capable of. Whilst I do think Sissoko has been slightly over rated in some quarters, he does undoubtedly have certain skills to enable him to shine through as a very important player for a club like Newcastle. Unfortunately, after not getting his dream move to North London in January (of which he was very open and unashamed t a l k i n g about), Sissoko more than anyone else spent match after match in hiding on the pitch and putting in the disgraceful lack of effort you would expect from a player who doesn’t want to be here. Another bottled performance from the Frenchman in the derby at the SOS sticks out very sorely in my mind, not to mention a criminal tf 89


(purposeful??) sending off against Liverpool. Whilst very slightly redeeming himself with a more accomplished performance (and goal) against West Ham- I would not be shedding any tears if he was to leave in the summer. If he does stay- I hope that any new Head Coach (if we get one), is able to unlock Sissoko’s ability on a more consistent basis, and moreover-that the bloke re-evaluates his attitude.

eleven the following week. Admittedly-a fairly important player for us last season chipping in with seven goals, however the Frenchman has looked inept, lazy, and bereft of top level footballing ability this campaign. It would be easy to forget we only paid the pittance of £500k for Gouffran back in 2013-but you would be lucky to receive anything near that for him now. I

Yoan Gouffran: You only need to look at the fact that Yoan Gouffran has made 31 appearances this season, to realise why Newcastle have found themselves in a relegation battle. I’ve lost count of the number of times Gouffran has been pulled off the pitch by Pardew and Carver at HT (or shortly after) due to putting in an abject performance, only to find himself back in the starting

do have slight sympathy for him in the sense that he has been played in countless positions since he signed for us. Winger, wing forward, number 10, striker, and most bizarrely-as defensive midfielder in the derby this year. The fact both Pardew and Carver have seen Gouffran as some sort of reliable utility man says a lot about their managerial competence.

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Remy Cabella: Arguably the most excitement across Newcastle fans regarding a Summer signing last Summer, was of highly rated midfielder Remy Cabella. Cabella was highly thought of in France, and had delivered fourteen goals, and five assists no less in his final season playing for Montepellier. Moreover-the fact we had been prepared to invest £10-12m on the midfielder - a big spend by Mike Ashley standards, suggested we were getting a very talented and sought after player. Cabella has made twenty-three appearances for us this season, and an impressive forty-five minutes at Stamford Bridge aside; his performances have largely been forgetful. Although I don’t think being played out of position on the wing has helped his cause, I would still have expected more than one goal and two assists by a supposedly c r e a t i v e p l a y m a k e r . Probably more aggravating than that, is his poor decision making and determination to try and showboat every time he gets the ball instead of looking for the correct, simple pass. People may point to him needing to bulk up

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and increase his strength, however I would suggest that slighter players such as Ayoze Perez still know how to use their body and positioning to overcome this deficiency. I’m not writing Cabella off yet, and do feel he needs the right direction, coaching, and position – I just feel the ROI on our star signing has so far been incredibly poor. Must do better. Strikers Only nineteen league goals was the total return across our entire strike force this past campaign, which when you consider relegated frontmen Charlie Austin and Danny Ings notched thirty times collectively, suggests United have some big issues up top. Mind-this is not entirely surprising given our desperate need to bolster our power since Ba left two years ago. Bright spark of a miserable s e a s o n A y o z e Perez was signed for next to nothing and was expected to be sent out on loan, however all hopes and pressures were subsequently pinned on him after few better options were on offer.

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Emmanuel Riviere: Signed for £6m, and arriving with a mediocre strike ratio from a mediocre league, I can’t say I had too many hopes for the French striker to replace Loic Remy’s goals. Its fair to say his 13% strike rate (or three goals in twenty two appearances if you will) has seemingly backed up my pessimistic prediction. A strong work ethic, but unfortunately that’s the bare minimum I expect from a Premier League player. Papiss Cisse: With one of the highest goals per minute ratio in the Premier League this season, and finishing up as our highest goal scorer with eleven goals- I do feel somewhat reticent for pointing the finger at Papiss Cisse for being a disappointment on the www.true-faith.co.uk

pitch this year. The reality is, he let down the entire club with his deplorable spitting spat with Jonny Evans. In a season where ill discipline has ran wild across our squad, the Senegalese striker found himself suspended for the most important part of the campaign. Combined with another bout of injury issues, Papiss has only managed twenty two appearances this year, which for your number one goal hope, is simply not good enough. It is expected that he will move on this Summer, and whilst he will be very fondly remembered on Tyneside on the wholeI do feel that the time is right for him to ply his trade elsewhere and for us to get in someone more reliable.

In a season where ill discipline has ran wild across our squad, the Senegalese striker found himself suspended for the most important part of the campaign.

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A fifth of the world’s population lives in China. Despite this incredible statistic China struggles to field an international football team to even compete with the mediocre. At time of writing China are ranked 79th in the FIFA rankings below Haiti, Togo and Finland respectively. Having lived in China for 9 months I have developed some possible reasons as to why for a country of its size, China doesn’t perform on the pitch.

MADE IN CHINA #1 I moved to China last August flying into Shanghai before making the 10 hour train journey through South East China to Shenzhen. During that 10 hour train journey through a densely populated part of China I didn’t see any sets of goal posts or pitches anywhere. Plenty of tower blocks, factories, land being used for vegetation, and a

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couple of basketball courts but no footy. Shanghai was hot and polluted and backed up my main fear of China that it would be too polluted. I’ve never been so happy to see blue sky as I was when the train reached an hour from Shenzhen. It was a priority of mine when I moved to China last year to play as much

football as possible as I knew this would be a great way to meet likeminded people. Before moving I knew there were expat leagues in the city I was moving to, Shenzhen. Shenzhen is China’s 7th largest city with a population of 12 million and borders Hong Kong. Through some research online and sending some emails

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ANDY BLACK

I found an expat team called ‘World United’ who said I could join them for a game. They played once a week against Chinese teams. The Chinese teams do have some funny and irritating quirks that I had never seen before. The first and most striking was their inability to take a throw in. Approximately half the throw-ins they took were foul throws. I’m

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With regards ability I have played against a few amateur sides that were quite decent. Most Chinese players have a reasonable touch and the better sides move the ball around nicely. They are also on the whole quick and get stuck into challenges. still at a loss as to why this is. In the worst case try to imagine a 3 year old throwing a full size ball and you won’t be too far away from some of the throw ins I’ve seen. A more irritating quirk is the loud kung fu shouts that some Chinese players do when contesting 50 50s, headers or when you are about to shoot on goal.

Americans. The referees turn a blind eye to it despite it clearly being unsporting behaviour. Most Chinese players make similar noises when tackled and if they don’t fall to ground then they will more than likely dive. Again very infuriating especially to the Brits who view diving with such huge disdain.

Needless to say this infuriates my team of Europeans and South

With regards ability I have played against a few amateur sides that

were quite decent. Most Chinese players have a reasonable touch and the better sides move the ball around nicely. They are also on the whole quick and get stuck into challenges. However in the 8 a side games I have played in against Chinese teams not once have I played against a really good striker who can put his foot through it and strike the ball with real power and accuracy.

With regards facilities and pitches in Shenzhen I would say they are not too bad. All pitches are 3G or astro turf. Changing rooms do not exist so everyone gets changed by the side of the pitch and trips to the toilet pre or post match on the whole are like recreating the scene in Trainspotting when Renton walks into the worst toilet in Scotland. Some of the bogs in China have to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately though there aren’t enough pitches for public hire in Shenzhen. Most pitches are always booked up so currently demand is outstripping supply. Land is increasing in value in Shenzhen and for any landowner building a block of flats or offices in good locations in the city is far more lucrative then some football pitches. Watching English football matches on TV has proven more difficult than I imagined it would be. The Chinese do not really have a bar or drinking culture compared to ours. Chinese people are far more likely to socialise in a restaurant and if they are drinking then they will also be eating. Most restaurants don’t tend to have TVs so it’s not common for Chinese to meet up to watch football. In fact it’s very rare from my experience. I have been across to Vietnam and a bar culture is far more prevalent there. The Vietnamese enjoy a

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beer and loads of bars had European or domestic football on. When I asked a Vietnamese local why this was the reason he gave wasn’t the love of the sport but gambling. Online gambling is prohibited in China which has helped my bank balance! Facebook and Twitter are banned also which is great! If there is a desire to watch English football then it’s from the comfort of the home. Also as it’s

predominantly expat bars where games are shown the extra cost in drinks will probably put them off. Around town you do see Premier League shirts. As of time of writing I am still to see my first local wearing a Black & White shirt. I’ll take it that they are as disgusted as I am with our current shirt sponsor. As you would expect Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, and Liverpool shirts are prevalent everywhere along with

Barca and Real. I have been several times to see the professional Shenzhen team play. They play in the second tier of the Chinese League. Last season they were relegated for deliberately trying to lose games. Perhaps the FA if they had any minerals would punish teams in England that deliberately field weakened teams and who are thus devaluing the FA Cup. They have decided to move away from their

purpose built new stadium in the east of the city to their old stadium back in the centre of town. The location of the old stadium is better as it’s nearer the bars so I’m not complaining. I had a friend who hadn’t realised they had moved who went to the newer stadium for the first match of the season to find there was no game on and that the stadium was being used as a driving range! When his Chinese girlfriend asked where the game was being held the staff did not have a clue. From my experience decision making is made at the very last minute and not all parties are told in China. For example working as a teacher asking simple questions about when term ends is met with I’m not sure or we have to wait for the leader to decide. The older stadium holds approximately 40,000 and is your typical Communist bloc multi sports stadium with running track round the pitch. The games that I have been to have seen attendances around the 20,000 mark. Tickets are only a quid which is a nice bonus. In terms of somewhere to go prematch for a loosner, there is a shop outside some basketball courts which sells big bottles of Tsingtao (China’s main beer) for 60p. Tsingtao is passable as a beer. For some reason it tastes better with spicy food. Draught beers in China are a dangerous

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experience with the likelihood high that the taps aren’t clean or the beer has been watered down. Either way the end result is a disappointing tipple and a thumping headache the next day. There are 3 pockets of Ultras inside the stadium who make a good racket. A couple of my mates speak decent Mandarin and were laughing when they heard the phrase ‘Shabi’ which translates as ‘Stupid cunt’ to insult the opposition. Much like games in the Far East the crescendo of noise increases any time the ball gets anywhere the 18 yard box. For some this would annoy in England but I find it quite endearing that the fans are getting excited about the game rather than the cynical bunch many English fans have become. As you would expect the quality on show is not the best. The quality of the pitch doesn’t help. The

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weather here tends to be hot and humid and when it rains it really rains. I’m sure this doesn’t help the ground staff. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if the change of stadium was so last minute that they forgot that a pitch would be needed to be prepared. They currently sit in mid table and look unlikely to threaten a promotion push. In order to see an upgrade in action I will have to go and see the biggest team in China who are Guangzhou Evergrande which is only a 30 minute bullet train away. They have won the league for the last 4 seasons. They are bank rolled by Evergrande Real Estate and Alibaba (a successful online shop) and as a result are able to pay their managers top dollar. Fabio Cannavarro was replaced at the start of June by Philipe Scolari. The team is made up of Chinese players with a sprinkling of Brazilians.

Elkesen is the star of the show having scored 56 goals in 64 games for Guangzhou. At 25 he must be on the radar of some European clubs but imagine he is already getting handsomely rewarded for his efforts. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get to a Guangzhou game but it is on the to do list. They became the first Chinese team to win the Asian Champions League when they defeated Seoul by away goals in 2013. The current competition is on going and they are through the group stages. I watched their last game on TV when they played a South Korean team at home. The atmosphere looked fantastic but they were fortunate to win the game as they were gifted a penalty through a disgraceful refereeing decision. The spectre of corruption does linger over Chinese football. Games outside

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the top flight are usually poorly attended and the players will more than likely not be commanding top wages. Recently a goalie got fined for letting in a goal whilst standing by the post having a drink. Cracking down on corruption is a key policy for the current President Xi Jinping. Cynics of such a crackdown say he’s just trying to reduce the power of other party officials who may seek to challenge him. FIFA could do worse than adopting such a strategy though.

football is not taught to the 7 to 11 year olds at the moment. School PE consists of marching, running, skipping, and basketball. The Chinese were comfortably beaten by an ageing Aussie side albeit on their home turf down under. Two goals from Tim Cahill won the game, the second of which was an impressive overhead kick. Off the back of this display he earned himself a move to a side in Shanghai and a nice pension fund you would expect.

President Xi Jinping is said to be a football fan. Prince William recently visited China and the two are said to have talked football. I’m sure a lot more interesting and dark topics were covered but that never came to press. Following China’s recent Quarter Final exit to Australia in the Asia Cup (Not sure how that works) The President announced a wide sweeping policy to introduce football into the school curriculum. At the school I teach at

In order for China to climb the world rankings playing the sport at school is an obvious step. There is certainly a demand for youth football as I have coached kids football in Shenzhen and have seen at first hand the problems that are faced. I did coach some talented boys and girls. However I don’t see where the kids can hone their skills in the street or in the park. Speaking for Shenzhen there is such a lack of open spaces and the roads are so busy

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that I’m not sure where the stars of the future can practice. Also parents tend to wrap their kids in cotton wool a bit too much. A good example of this is their attitude to playing football in rain. If there is any danger of rain then their little treasure doesn’t play. There is a good demand for youth coaches in China and a qualified coach from Europe can expect to earn reasonable money out here and enjoy a good quality of life compared to back home. Sooner or later I would expect some talented Chinese players to break through in the next few years. I get the impression that the Chinese are increasingly seeing more football being transmitted on their TV’s. The best goals from the Chinese league each week are always played on the Shenzhen subway to some earie death metal background music. What I think could really kick football off in China would be a World Cup campaign. It just so

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Also parents tend to wrap their kids in cotton wool a bit too much. A good example of this is their attitude to playing football in rain. If there is any danger of rain then their little treasure doesn’t play

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happens that China have been given an extremely favourable draw in order to reach Russia 2018. They must overcome such forces of football as Hong Kong, Bhutan, Maldives, Qatar. Surely it is a certainty that they will qualify having been given such a helping hand. With an attractive time difference with Russia and a huge potential viewing audience it’s obvious that FIFA are desperate for China to be in the next World Cup. Through speaking to the locals they did watch the last World Cup in Brazil and enjoyed it. With their own team involved it would no doubt raise the fervour for the game. Rumours are that China are planning to host The World Cup in 2030 when the government believe they will have had enough time to create a team that could compete. I don’t think this is fantasy. While China is an ageing country there are still millions and millions of young potential footballers within the country. Football is a very new game so for example parents offering their children advice will www.true-faith.co.uk

more than likely not have a clue. Some may say this is the case back home but I would compare it to teaching your kid about something like World of Warcraft of which you have no idea about. While Dads in England may give dodgy advice to their offspring you know that they have played the game. I still think China has potential to become a footballing nation. Not because I can’t stand it, but I would not bother so much with their national sport basketball. They don’t seem to be on the level of the NBA through the unfortunate times I’ve watched basketball on TV. While it is ignorant and incorrect to label Chinese as small people you do feel they should naturally be better footballers than basketball players. Also there is great wealth in the country so as is shown with Guangzhou decent players can be brought to the Chinese league to hopefully boost the quality. There are restrictions on the amount of foreign players and each team must have a

certain amount of players under 21 in their squad. These are solid initiatives that hopefully will bear fruit in the years to come. I’m surprised there has been no Chinese investment in the Premier League. If I do bump into one of China’s many billionaires I will be sure to put a glowing pitch into purchasing Newcastle of Ashley and the adulation he/she would receive if the club was run properly. I read the other day that Athletico Madrid are now 20% owned by Wanda Group (A Chinese property firm) who are filthy rich. With the government’s crackdown on corruption an English Premier League team may be an attractive proposition to the super rich to protect their cash in investments where not too many questions are asked. I’m not counting Carson Yeung as he is from Hong Kong. Someone of that ilk investing in English football is not what we need. So football is developing in China. It may take some time for them to have a competitive side on the international stage

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but the increasing focus the game has over here combined with good coaching initiatives and the domestic league not being flooded with too many mercenaries will help. China is a sporting nation as their medal tally at each Olympics shows. Some argue that these medals are for individual based sports where a huge amount of dedication is required to be successful. Questions over whether they can turn that sporting excellence into a team game remain given the relative few NBA stars they currently produce given basketballs popularity. Personally I don’t see this as being an issue as teamwork can be learned if coached correctly at a young age. Dedication to the sport may be an issue for English players not fulfilling their potential but is unlikely to be a factor in China. The lack of a drinking or party culture will help the Chinese players as much as it hinders the English ones. Chinese football culture is work in progress so watch this space. tf 97


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QPR 2 NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 Loftus Road, Sat 16th May, 3:00pm, Premier League, Att: 17,608 Let’s get this on the record. QPR are dog shit. They are relegated, they are wholly without purpose, motivation and last week the whole sum total of their desperate situation was laid bare at Man City where they played without pride for their profession or the shirt on their backs. Yet they beat us. Yet they came back from being a goal behind and won the day. Fucking hell. Miraculously, whatever side QPR have put out this season. John Carver managed to put out a worse one. Cowards all over the park, dickheads in the dugout and zombies in the boardroom. Just pray we have enough next week otherwise we are royally fucked and then some. Newcastle United - 01 Krul, 22 Janmaat, 02 Coloccini, 36 Dummett, 18 Gutiérrez, 04 Taylor (Aarons - 64’ ), 14 Colback, 17 Pérez, 07 Sissoko, 20 Cabella (Ameobi 73’), 29 Riviere (Cissé - 63’ ) Substitutes, 08 Anita, 09 Cissé, 11 Gouffran, 16 Aarons, 28 Ameobi, 30 Abeid, 41 Woodman MoM: Your kidding right? Their Fans: Chelsea-lite. Our fans: Numb

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NEWCASTLE UNITED 3 WEST HAM 0 St James PArk, Sun 24th May, 3:00pm, Premier League, Att: 52,094 Thank God for West Ham not really giving a fuck. Thank God for Allardyce not being arsed. Thank God for the officials at the KC Stadium making the right decisions and not letting those Hull goals go as might have happened. Thank God for Jonas, a man who could have walked around not really giving a fuck and relishing the loss of money Ashley would have suffered had relegation came to pass. This was Jonas writing his name into our club’s half-baked history alongside David Kelly as a proper player and a real man. He’ll never be forgotten. “He’s Guitteraz from Beunos Aires …” you know the rest. Thank fuck that’s over. Newcastle United: 01 Krul, 22 Janmaat, 06 Williamson, 02 Coloccini, 36 Dummett, 08 Anita, (Gouffran - 89’ ), 14 Colback, 07 Sissoko (Booked), 29 Riviere, 18 Gutiérrez (Booked), 09 Cissé, Substitutes: 04 Taylor, 10 de Jong, 11 Gouffran, 17 Pérez, 20 Cabella, 28 Ameobi, 41 Woodman. MoM: Jonas. By a mile. Their fans: Admirably hostile to Allardyce. Otherwise wankers. Our fans: Textbook support. Gareth Harrison - Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892

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I have calculated it really is 8 years since I last saw the Viola play live in Firenze. In the interim I have seen them play at Goodison Park (v Everton Quarter Final) and Ibrox (v Glasgow Rangers Semi Final) of the Europa League in 2008, as well as that abandoned friendly in the pouring rain at St James Park, August 2011.

THE MEDICI FILES - A DIARY FROM FIRENZE PETER EMBLETON – FOLLOW @PEFIORENTINA The time is nearing, to return to the Artemio Franchi and with less than a week to go, I am absolutely buzzing. How great it will be, to see again, my other team A.C.F. Fiorentina (the Viola), brilliantly run by a superb owner, good technical staff, manager, players and tifosi who are proud of their club and what it stands for. Compare and contrast this with how I have felt trudging up to SJP on match days, no heart and soul in my actions, going to watch a team put on the pitch by www.true-faith.co.uk

an owner and CEO who really could not give a shit about our once great heritage. Cups/Europe - forget it. The balance sheet, for them is the bottom line, no ambition, no pride, a moribund organisation an absolutely soulless experience from a supporters’ perspective. This is a diary of my visit with advice for those who would like to experience a match in Serie A. Monday 16 Feb 2015 Packing bag, travelling light, hand-luggage. How

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can I get everything I need, into what seems like such a tiny case. Got to look the part, need smart attire to keep up with the fashion conscious Italians. Do I need the obligatory sunglasses? I will take them just in case. Thursday 19 Feb 2015 Driving down to Manchester Airport with the missus for the 6.30am Ryanair’s Friday flight to Rome-Ciampino Airport. The flights were booked, back in October 2014, £65 return. tf 101


I have left the train and match tickets till I get there. More on this later. Newcastle Airport has no direct cheap flights to Italy during the Autumn and Winter months (i.e. October-April). You can use Newcastle to get to Amsterdam and Paris, as hub airports, onward to most cities in Italy but the cost varies between £180 to £250. Jet 2 flights to Rome start in April and end in September, however you have to go Thurs to Thurs which precludes short weekend breaks. I have found that you need to travel to an airport like Manchester or Stansted to get the best deals. Between them both Airports service most, if not all, Italian cities with everyday flights, with some great bargains to be had. As an example as I type this, I have up, on Ryanair’s website Manchester to Bologna £48 return, this September. A great Italian city to be based and an excellent starting point for any Serie A trip (Ed: www.true-faith.co.uk

cheers Peter, got it booked already). Keep scanning the low cost airlines web sites for the Autumn/Winter release dates. The Serie A Season 2015-2016 Week 1 games are on 23 August 2015 three weeks earlier than normal - the fixtures will be out in early July, so get planning. Painless drive and a lovely day. 15. 30 pm checked in to Airport hotel, parked car up, dumped bags and headed into Manchester for a look around and a meal booked for 18. 00 Train 12 minutes to Piccadilly station. Evening meal, San Carlo’s just off Dean Street, Mario Balotelli’s favorite restaurant in Manchester, where he allegedly racked up £90K in parking fines over a year parking on double yellow lines. Premier League footballers for you eh? Right, simply one of the best Italian’s in this country, period. Some statement. The atmosphere whether u go at 12 midday or 20. 00,

is electric. Worth going, for the photos of celebs/ footballers, managers around the walls. Very reasonable priced topnotch Italian food with a huge choice. Friday 20 February 2015 6 30am Ryanair flight on time with a seamless transition to Rome Ciampino Airport arriving 7 minutes early at 10 am Central European time. Descending over Rome on a beautiful sunny day all the sites were clearly visible, the Stadio Olympico was to my right, we passed directly over the Colosseum, what an entrance after a long time away, to quote James Brown “I’m baaaack……..” Transport into Rome €16 return by bus, which you board directly outside the Airport entrance, good value, and the tickets’ can be bought on the plane. Buses outside waiting to take those who have booked directly to the Roma Termini railway

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station. Stuff it. We are taking a Taxi, need to get to Roma Termini quickly for onward train to Firenze, I know I am mad but I’m paying the €40. Easy taxi journey 25 minutes, dropped off outside the Roma Termini Right, into main station for the ticket offices, is it still in the same place? Yes it is .No queues, strange, found out you have to get a queue ticket (yes a queue ticket) from the machines nearby. This ticket has a number on and this number corresponds with a number displayed on screens in front of the ticket office. Apparently you are now part of an electronic queuing system. Your number coming up in electronic format in turn. Right got a ticket, start watching for our number, 30mins later no corresponding number has appeared, there have www.true-faith.co.uk

been literally hundreds displayed. In front of us we have is 12 glass ticket offices, of which four have a person inside them, this individual presses a button which puts the number up on the electronic board, the customer with that corresponding number then goes and orders their tickets. If no one goes forward the person in the ticket booth continues to press his/her button until someone comes forward. Its quite obvious from an early stage that people have given up the ghost and used instead the self service electronic ordering system and thrown away their ticket for a ticket booth. The ongoing situation of numbers being displayed continues with hundreds of people milling around looking for their number. Seriously you couldn’t make this up. How thick were we, the

self service ticket machine in front of us and it had an English section - quick scan of instructions, quickly working my way through the sequence, bosh, hey presto, tickets paid for by credit card and printed in 4 minutes maximum. What a right “thicko” I have been, Shows how long I have been away from the place. Right 10 minutes to get our train. Lessons learnt subsequently, use the Tren-Italia website from home before your journey it has an excellent English section and book tickets by this means the earlier the booking the cheaper the ticket price or just use the self service ticket machines in English and you can use your credit card to pay. For those individuals, groups, couples looking to take in Serie A and Serie B, train travel is the way. All the biggest cities have

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use the TrenItalia website from home before your journey it has an excellent English section and book tickets by this means the earlier the booking the cheaper the ticket price tf 103


either a team in Serie A or in the case of Turin, Milan or Rome, two. There are literally hundreds of clubs to visit within the Italian Pyramid system and it is a great way to see Italy. Italian railways, Trenitalia is state owned and it provides an excellent, fast and effective service. In the 1990s, a new high-speed network was opened on routes between the main Italian cities, using the very latest high- speed trains, which have dramatically reduced, the time, taken to get to destinations. These high-speed lines supplemented the existing railway network of which there is 10,000 miles of track and they use the very latest technology in train design, capable of 300kmph/190mph (Ed: obviously ours is privately owned, expensive and shit - but hey, we know better eh?) Trenitalia’s, top high speedtrain (300kmph/186mph) is the “Frecciarossa” (Red Arrows) yes I know even the train names sound www.true-faith.co.uk

sexy in Italian. The train ticket, comes with a seat reservation, and is only valid on the train you have booked. Principle routes - TurinMilan-Bologna-Florence -Rome-Naples . Times - Turin-Milan 44m,Milan-Rome 2h 55m, Milan–Bologna 1h 02min, Bologna-Florence 35m, Florence-Rome 1hr 25min, Rome-Naples 1hr 10m, Prices - We travelled on a “Frecciarossa”, price on the day €43/£31 (one way), I have checked out same journey booking in advance late April 21E/£15 and May 19 is £13. Booking starts 91 days from date of travel, as in Britain, shop early to get the best bargains. There is a super economy category but whenever I have looked for tickets in this category they have all gone. The Italians must jump all over those prices as soon as they are released because they must be as cheap as chips. Or pizza.

Quickly, the rest. In descending order by pecking order, speed and routes. “Frecciargento” (Silver Arrows) 250kmph/155mph Principle Routes - VeniceBologna-FlorenceRome; Verona-BolognaFlorence-Rome; Rome-Bari “Frecciabianca” (White arrows) Up to 125 mph using refurbished ex InterCity coaches. These trains run on traditional lines, outside the high-speed network. You have 86 trains each day, which connect 87 medium and big towns and cities throughout Italy with departures every 13 minutes. These include

Trenitalia’s, top high speedtrain is the “Frecciarossa” (Red Arrows) yes I know even the train names sound sexy in Italian

Principle Routes Tu r i n - M i l a n -V e r o n a Venice; Milan-RiminiAncona-Pescara-BariBrindisi. Inter City Trains. These are fast trains, hauled by locomotives up to 100125mph Rome-Na plesSicily; Rome-Pisa-Cinque

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Terre-Genoa-Milan; MilanGenoa-Ventimiglia (for Nice) And finally “Expresso”, “Regionale” and Local Trains. Just buy a ticket and hop on these, remembering to stamp your ticket at the machine provided at each platform. These are literally your local train, operating all over Italy between places that have a station. Fares are mega cheap but the trains take all day, stopping at every stop (Ed: and be careful to get on the right one in the Naples area, unless you are fond of an er, adventure). The best web site I have found giving detailed advice on train travel in Italy is “The Man in Seat 61…A beginners guide to Train Travel in Italy”. If you have travelled on the Italian train system, I would highly recommend, a brilliant, detailed, cultural observational book on his train journeys around Italy -Tim Parks “Italian ways on and off the Rails from Milan to Palermo.” And compare his observations with yours, very funny (Ed:

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his other football book – A Season With Verona is pretty damned brilliant as well). Exactly as it says on the tin -1hr 37 mins to Firenze. I have to say what a train journey that was, I watched the speed and route rack up via pop down screens. Quiet and very comfortable with plenty of refreshments provided. For those passengers who have booked tickets via the internet, these were scanned, by the Inspector with his hand held device, whilst on the train. Firenze (Florence) Sante Maria Novella Station (even the railway stations sound good) like Fiorentina’s football ground is a monument to the fascist-era - both reflected the new socio-political order of the day and the radical nature of Fiorentine fascism. Designed and built between 19321935 embracing for the time, modern technology although the outside façade uses traditional stone to blend in with the architecture of the nearby

Sante Maria church.

Novelle

Walking out of the station entrance the feeling of coming home hits. I really love this city every time I come here I get this feeling of belonging, being part of something extra, extra, special. We decided to walk to the hotel essentially to reacquaint myself to the street layout of Firenze and soak in the atmosphere after being away for so long. Right lets get my bearings, being an easy city to navigate routes come flooding back. Out of the left side of the station frontage take the Via del Panzani and Via De Cerretani which should bring us to the Piazza Del Duomo the central showpiece of the City.

Walking out of the station entrance the feeling of coming home hits. I really love this city every time I come here I get this feeling of belonging, being part of something extra, extra, special.

As we near the Duomo it is very noticeable that the roads and streets around have been heavily pedestrianized, making walking much easier. The Duomo or to give it its correct name the church

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of Sante Maria del Fiore, building of which work started in 1296, looks as magnificent as ever, built in white Carrara, green Prato, and red Maremma marble which gives off this glow which radiates and lights up the Piazza to create a visually stunning masterpiece. My God I had forgot how absolutely brilliant it looks. Unfortunately the Baptistery next to it built to an octagonal design between 1059 and 1128 is undergoing a makeover and is currently covered in scaffolding and covers. I just love standing in this Piazza taking in the daily coming and goings of ordinary Fiorentines’ mixing with us the tourist hordes, lucky for us, there are not many of the latter today. This is a great time to go, my favorite months are January, February, the first two weeks of March, as well as November, December, simple because walking around is a lot easier. In the other months www.true-faith.co.uk

the city is thronged with tourists to the point that getting from A-B quickly is virtually impossible. Checked into our hotel in the Piazza del Repubblica, was informed it was 8 years since we were last, in Firenze. Is it that long? Rooms not quite ready, free drinks available in the outside bar area. Happy days sitting there 15. 00pm on a Friday afternoon under clear blue skies 12F with a Pironi (the beer-dark brown bottle, red label) courtesy of the hotel, watching the daily life in Firenze passing us by, life doesn’t get any better than this. Room is now ready, an absolute beauty third floor overlooking the Piazza. Most important things first get tickets for the match A.C.F Fiorentina v Torino F.C. Sunday 20.45. Match tickets in Italy I would advise you do not buy tickets from an online ticket sellers unless absolutely necessary (that is when there is chance of a sold out match, which is rare in Italy at the moment),

the only exception being Juventus matches, where tickets go on general sale to public 10 days before a match and are nearly always snapped up. The reason for avoiding online ticket sellers is invariably you will likely be charged four times their face value and it is not necessary, because tickets for all club matches in Italy are readily available. As I said previously tickets for Italian matches go on sale about 10 days before a match takes place.Virtually all of the Italian clubs in Serie A have an English section on their website which will detail ticket prices for the various parts of the ground. The problem is they are reluctant post your tickets out to Britain. Or if you can get them to send out you run the risk of them arriving, after you have left England for Italy.

I would advise you do not buy tickets from an online ticket sellers unless absolutely necessary (that is when there is chance of a sold out match, which is rare in Italy at the moment),

So my suggestion is twofold - either go to the club’s ticket office on arrival where you will need proof of identity i.e. your passport, to purchase the tickets which when printed

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will have your name on. Or the other way to purchase tickets when you are there is to get the concierge or hotel to do it for you. See the concierge on arrival or e-mail the hotel you are staying at to get the tickets for you to pay for and collect when you get to the hotel. So you will need to weigh up your options carefully. Why the tight security and what is the Tessera del Tifoso (fan membership cards)? Five days after the death of a police inspector Filippo Raciti on 2 February 2007 (following the violence instigated by the Ultras against the Police at the end of the CataniaPalermo match) the state had to act and be seen to be acting. The Italian government introduced a number of legal measures against the Ultras including the introduction of stewards within grounds and the Tessera del Tifoso in March 2008 that all Italian fans, have to acquire to see all games. www.true-faith.co.uk

It was promoted as providing benefits to all subscribers, priority for buying tickets, dedicated entry gates and the creation of official and loyal supporters. Individuals subject to DASPO (Dirieto di Accedere alle manifestazioni Sportive –prohibition of access to places where sports events take place.) were denied eligibility. Therefore its primary aim was to keep out former trouble-makers and track potential new ones as well as excluding them from any official relationships with the clubs. This was opposed from its inception by both the Ultra movement andmost of the tifosi, As well as the clubs the main objections (were the same as those raised during the Thatcher era in Britain, she tried to introduce ID cards for English matches) that the government were infringing civil liberties and classing all fans as hooligans.

However it is still here today although some Italian clubs have been circumventing it through use of club loyalty cards. Unfortunately it ignores a very simple fact the majority of violence in Italy and I would guess anywhere in Europe occurs outside the ground where those committing it are subject as always to the rule of law. The Torino FC web site does a brilliant job in explaining in English all about membership cards any how to apply for one particularly if you are looking to be a season ticket holder in Italy. Well worth a look. Torino’s is known as the Cuore Granata card.

Unfortunately it ignores a very simple fact the majority of violence in Italy and I would guess anywhere in Europe occurs outside the ground

For foreign fans, your passport is your means of identification. Well I took the easy option by getting the Consierge an AC Milan supporter (not a great time to be a Rosseneri as I constantly reminded him throughout

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the visit,) to book them. Sorted, going to slum it in the main stands 50 E. (£36) Tickets will be at the hotel on Saturday for pick up. An example of prices at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. I have linked this with our ground as a comparator you put in the price you pay at SJP. Leazes End (Curve Fiesole €25 > £18), Gallowgate End(Curve Forrovia €18) East Stand (Tribuna Di Marota €50 to 80, £35£43 Milburn Stand (Tibuna Copperta €50-100 > £ 35-75). There are ticket offices throughout Firenze, the one near the ground is open on match days from 9.30 until kick off. Early evening and we had a wander around Firenze city-centre, car free, pedestrianised and most importantly flat and compact. Its impossible to get lost - you have reference points in the Duomo, the River Arno and the four bridges crossing it including the most famous one, the Ponte Vecchio. Everything happens in an www.true-faith.co.uk

area approximately two mile square. For those going for the first time, it is a very easy city to explore just put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes and do it. It contains statistically more art treasures per square metre than any other city in the world. Examples of the world class sites to see include the Duomo, Bapistry, Statue of David at the Academia, Ponte Vecchio bridge, The Uffizi Art gallery and many, many, more. For those of you looking for bars and clubs they are to numerous to list all -mostly very discrete, however whatever time of the year you go they will be bouncing. Clubs are open air during the Spring and Summer with some cracking sites overlooking the Arno. Great music and tremendous fun. From my spies in Firenze some of the best Rex Café, Moyo, Zoe, Negroni, The Blob Club, Jab, Twice and Space Electronica. Right, we need to have a quick look around and then meal-time.

I have been reading that the Ortrano district is on the up and is the place to be so heading for the other side of the Arno crossing the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. We found a great clothes shop specializing in Italian makes not available in the UK. That could get some hammer later. I always do some research on eating places, of the places we visit, especially as restaurants in Firenze can fall into two categories a waste of money or a “religious experience”. This research goes out of the window when I get there, so wandering around looking for somewhere to eat. This place looks good, out of way, but full “O Munaciello” the food was brilliant Mama’s home cooking which is eaten in conjunction with the holy trinity of Tuscan food, bread, olive oil and wine. The wines at the top end are exclusively red - the grape variety is my favourite Sangiovese which goes into Chianti, Vino Nobile di Motepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino.

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From my spies in Firenze some of the best Rex Café, Moyo, Zoe, Negroni, The Blob Club, Jab, Twice and Space Electronica.

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I found out by taking to the waiters that this was Italian owned, Italians in the kitchen and was frequented by the locals. What I stumbled across was a one I had researched. I read its write up when I returned home. “This restaurant was the epitome of a hidden gem: tucked away deep in Oltrarno, only the most discerninglocalsandtourists make it to O Munaciello. The low lighting, arched ceilings and imaginative decor create a mysterious and alluring atmosphere, and locals often describe it as the best place in the city for a romantic dinner. There are often (usually on a Wednesday) performers playing instruments, singing, or even performing opera, so you’re sure to be well-entertained, as well as well-fed!” Fluked that one, had to be fair! It was as good as it said. www.true-faith.co.uk

Right retire to the Hotel bar for a night cap turns out to be 4 Peronis’ and two glasses of wine, we met Roberto the head bar man a committed Napoli tifosi The crack was superb. I could probably have stayed there all night but had been on the go since three this morning so we needed some kip. Saturday 21 Feb 2014 It was always our intention of visiting Sienna for the first time. So up early for breakfast and then locate the bus station for the bus to Sienna. Located next to the railway station. Great day in Sienna exploring the city, very few tourists there. Mixed mostly with the locals. Back in Firenze for five o clock. Tickets for the match arrived at the hotel. Strolling through the streets of Firenze heading for our early evening meal, with other Fiorentines

,we observed one of the enduring traditions of Italian life: la passeggiata. This evening promenade, takes place generally between 5 and 8 pm, occurring in virtually every town, village, or big city in Italy. Families, couples, young men and women walking together through in this case, Florence’s narrow streets, in the late afternoon. Many were heading from the Piazza el Duomo to the Piazza della Repubblica, where our hotel is, with its choice of cafes and bars for an espresso or aperitivo and then onward to the Ponte Vecchio and then to the Piazzale Michelangelo where locals sit in the shade and couples wrap their arms around each other as they watch the sun turn the Arno golden. What a spot one of the great views on earth with the whole of Firenze spread out in front of you. Magic.

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This evening promenade, takes place generally between 5 and 8 pm, occurring in virtually every town, village, or big city in Italy.

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Returned just in time to our hotel, it starts to lash it down outside. Retire to the Hotel Bar and more crack with Roberto and more drinks. Sunday 22 Feb 2015 Match day Up early on a lovely Sunday morning in Firenze. Cross the street literally yards to Gilli ‘s for an expresso. My favorite café any where in the world. A city institution which has been opened since 1733 You can either stand at the counter or take the expensive option and take coffee seated outside. Opted for an expresso first and a pastry to set up the day. Dinner midday at back at O Munaciello another excellent gastronomic experience totally stuffed. Walk it off afterwards. 17 00pm Getting ready for the match, need to be well layered as the kick off is not until 20.45. Walk to the free bus service to the Stadio Artemio Franchi, this operates outside the Santé

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Maria Novella station - bus No 52. I love the feeling of the journey to a match, the anticipation, the excitement of not having been to the Stadio Artemio Franchi for so long. People watching, fans are the same the world over, great to see an eclectic mix, older men and women with sons and daughters loads of younger supporters all having the same aspirations, the bus is electric with the craic. The bus winds it way through the heavy match day traffic, avoiding the usual snarl ups by taking a specially designated route. It deposits us two streets from the Stadio. Walking down one of these streets the first thing that comes into view are the brilliantly bright flood lights radiating light up through the cold night air. We have arrived directly opposite the main entrance. Marshalls are everywhere directing fans whilst being available for all sorts of questions. A

plethora of paraphanallea sellers ……Tutto-Viola, ilBuvido Sportive Stadio and Metro Stadio. Quick look around and spot Fiorentina Point which is one of the number of club shops dotted around the city. This one happens to be outside the main entrance of the Stadio. Like stepping back in time to the old Newcastle United club shop on Pudding Chare - a time warp. The Stadio Artemeio Franchi came about as a result of the merger of the two Fiorentine clubs (Palestre Ginnastica libertas and Club Sportivo di Firenze) in 1926 which soon sparked demands for a stadium worthy of the team and its design to reflect the independent identity of the city. Coinciding with the fascist rise to prominence in Italy the new stadium was dedicated to the development of sport for

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I love the feeling of the journey to a match, the anticipation, the excitement of not having been to the Stadio Artemio Franchi for so long

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the local masses whilst performing an international propaganda role for the regime.The four sides of the stadium were completed in 2 years, 3 sides open and the main stand a covered cantilever design all being made from concrete and steel. Its design was copied and replicated throughout Europe and South America. Facing the main stand a dramatic 55 m Marathon Tower was built on top of the open stand, it was used as a gathering point for the mass rallies that took place there.The ground was given the name the Giovanni Berta stadium named after a local fascist commander who met a grizly death during a socialist strike, allegedly thrown from the Ponte Sospero bridge trying to save himself, he hung on to a rail at which point his hand was severed and he fell to his death in the Arno (Ed: smiles). After the war it was to be known as the Comunale. www.true-faith.co.uk

It was to be renamed after the former FIGC (the Italian Football federationFederazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio) president, Artemio Franchi, in 1991. Word of warning when entering Stadio in Italy you need your passport as proof of identity. Remember when you buy your ticket it has your name printed on it, this is your match up. Guess what - we have left our passports in the hotel, shit. I beckon across a steward and ask for one who can speak English my Italian is not brilliant to explain the situation. Doesn’t look good for entry, however power to the young steward who explains our position (purchased by our Hotel who used our passports as an identity check, We thought that was it.) to I assume was his superior who came back after talking to security at the gate. Thanked our young steward and went with the

senior one to the turnstile where an electronic identification system was by passed. We are in Stadium. That little walk to the entrance concourse with view of the pitch still blows me away I see the inside of the Stadium for the first time in eight years. Just standing there, taking in the scenery of a half empty Stadio. The Curve Fiesole to my left (so named after the town of Firesole lying directly behind it in the hills above Firenze ) the Curva Forrovia is to my right we are in the main stands in a position, directly parallel to the junction box of the 18 yard line. A small number of Torino tifosi are directly opposite in one of the two triangular segments of the ground allocated to away tifosi. There can be no more than 100 but they are making themselves heard plenty of banners and flags being swirled.

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That little walk to the entrance concourse with view of the pitch still blows me away I see the inside of the Stadium for the first time in eight years.

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I had forgotten what a 20.45 kick off time felt like, we were in the ground at 20.00 watching the players warming up the Ultras and tifosi taking their position on the Curvas, the brilliant light of the flood lights lighting up a cool dry Firenze evening. I wanted to get their early to see all the pre events unfold. We had good seats a euphemism for a piece of plastic molded to your backside bolted into the concrete structure of the stands. Half an hour before the kick off the Curve Fiesole was full. The La Viola ultra positioned banners unfurled flags being waved the night air being broken

by the odd chant and song.

with the emotion of it all.

Five minutes to go and the Stadio is I would say 80% full, the players are in the tunnel under the Curve Fiesole to our left ready to make their entrance onto the field, over the tanoy, up strikes the A.C.F. Fiorentina club anthem “Oh Fiorentina” the players emerge and I kid you not everybody in the ground start singing its words, violet flares are lite enveloping the Curve Fiesole and the players make their entrance to this scene. I can’t help my self I’m singing along with the rest the feeling of togetherness is indescribable, I also get a huge lump in my throat

The players make their way to position in front of the Main Stand for the formal presentation. I just love the occasion and at that moment I realized what I had been missing. What a feeling. The Match Serie A Week 24 A.C. Fiorentina 1 v Torino F.C. S.p.A 1 Salah 85 (F) Vives (T) The problem with picking a one off match to go to see, way in advance, is on the day your are in the lap of the Gods as to its quality. I have to be honest and say this was a dog of a match apart from the first 10 minutes and the last 5 when all the action occurred. I have a very soft spot for Torino football club (nick name I Granata-the Maroons or ilToro-the Bulls) its early history is littered with many successes and tragedy (Superga). And the fact in recent history has

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...the players emerge and I kid you not everybody in the ground start singing its words, violet flares are lite enveloping the Curve Fiesole and the players make their entrance to this scene

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been littered with the tag of plucky under dog in the city of Turin dominated by the gigantic shadow of Juventus FC. Going into this match il Viola were unbeaten in 9 in all competitions whilst il Granata stretched to 11. The teams lined up with many of their best players on the bench it seemed with half an eye on the following Thursday’s Europa League matches ACF Fiorentina v Tottenham Hotspur and Athletico Bilbao v Torino. It seems we have the only teams in Europe who don’t think this competition is relevant. Why heaven knows when the prize for the winner beside a European trophy is an automatic entry into next seasons Champions League. Three penalty appeals in the first ten minutes with one given had the crowd buzzing. www.true-faith.co.uk

Moments later theViola did receive a rather soft spotkick for a Daniele Baselli push on Milan Badelj, but Khouma Babacar’s penalty right down the middle was parried by Daniele Padelli, Torino’s goal keeper who got back up to capture the rebound too. Josef Martinez almost scored on 71 minutes, as Ciprian Tatarusanu tried to do a Manuel Neuer and rushed outside his area, but missed the ball. Martinez lobbed it towards the empty goal, but found Gonzalo Rodriguez for an acrobatic goal-line clearance. A Babacar half-volley whistled just past the far top corner, but after much probing and pressure, Fiorentina found the breakthrough. Mohamed Salah combined with Alberto Gilardino and smashed a low finish into the near bottom corner despite Padelli getting a

shin to it. That was the ex-Chelsea man’s second goal in as many games. However, it lasted only a couple of minutes before Torino got back on level terms. They caught the Viola out on the counterattack, as Maxi Lopez forced a save from Tatarusanu and Vives volleyed in the rebound. It was a rare goal for Vives and a contentious one as he could so easily have been sent off in the first half. Fiorentina: Tatarusanu; Basanta, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Tomovic; Ilicic, Vargas, Badelj, Aquilani, Rosi (Joaquin 56); Diamanti (Salah 66), Babacar (Gilardino 78)

Going into this match il Viola were unbeaten in 9 in all competitions whilst il Granata stretched to 11

Torino: Padelli; Maksimovic, Moretti, Jansson; Bruno Peres, Benassi (Gazzi 75), Vives, Farnerud (Amauri 86), Molinaro; Quagliarella (Martinez 65), Maxi Lopez Ref: Guida

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Time 22 30 find the bus stop for getting back to the citycentre. Stumbled across it, we board the second free 52 bus available and are back outside the Station in 20 minutes. Walk back to the Hotel a couple of drinks at the bar, talk through the match with Roberto say goodbye hugs all round and off to bed ready for 8-15am train to Roma the next morning. Monday 23 Feb 2015 Up bright and early, breakfast taxi to station. Didn’t want to come away from Firenze I vowed that I won’t leave it as long as eight years the next time to return. Planning 2 trips to Firenze with my wife Nov and Feb next year and a trip to Italy to watch Calcio with the lads. 20162017 (Bologna is already booked Pete). One

final

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poignant

moment observed silence at the memorial plaque at Platform 16 of the Santa Maria Novelle Station to the Italian Jewish citizens deported to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria.

All credit to Ryanair, the

Arrived in Rome bang on time. Power to modern nationalized railways.

Followed by Champions

Again walk to hotel and dump bags and have a really good look around Rome during the day. It is absolutely teeming with people. The hum this generates combined with the traffic cars and scooters is intoxicating and thrilling. Great day.

plane departs bang on time. Land in Manchester 12.30 Went to see Manchester City U21s v Schalke 21s

League Manchester City v Barcelona Wednesday 25 Feb 2015 Home 2 00am shattered crash into bed. Those of you with a spirit of adventure and want an alternative to the Premier

Those of you with a spirit of adventure and want an alternative to the Premier League - a trip to Italy to watch a Serie A match, could not be easier.

League - a trip to Italy to watch a Serie A match,

A couple of nightcaps on the roof top terrace bar with the spectacular views over Rome to contemplate. Happy days

could not be easier. I have

Tues 24 Feb 2015 Taxi to airport Flight home 10 30am

be disappointed.

given you in this piece all of the essential information to do it. Get yourself sorted, start planning, you will not

Forza Viola.

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Eight FIFA executives have been arrested, The FBI and the Swiss Police have outlined their cases, Russia has accused the US of ‘meddling outside its jurisdiction’, Blatter has won re-election as President, accused the US Judiciary and the British Press of engaging in a campaign against him fuelled by revenge and has finally decided to resign. Oh, and the editor has dropped me an email asking what the Brazilian take on the whole sordid affair is. Here goes, then…

JOHN MILTON - HEATON AND RIO. Follow John on @ Geordioca

The boy from brazil

FIFA - A SHORT HISTORY OF SCANDAL This FIFA nonsense is a complex issue, more so here in Brazil than anywhere else, I’d imagine. First of all, you have to understand that Brazil has a curious relationship with corruption in general. It’s no secret that Brazil has quite a bit www.true-faith.co.uk

of form when it comes to sleaze, and I’m sure we’re going to be hearing quite a bit about the 2014 World Cup in the coming weeks and months. The current government is under immense pressure

due to the corruption scandals that are being unearthed day after day, especially surrounding the state owned oil company, Petrobras. The Government’s case is not helped by the links between the company and

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the country’s President, Dilma. She was head of the company whilst the kickbacks, backhanders and blatant payoffs were being handed out as part of the company’s daily modus operandi. The sheer numbers being bandied tf 116


about, both in terms of the amounts of money as well as the number of politicians involved in the scandal is mind-boggling: even so, this is just one of a raft of corruption cases that hit the front pages DAILY. Remember the brouhaha about the expenses scandal? It wouldn’t have registered a blip over here fiddling their expenses is the least of the problems that Brazilians expect from their elected representatives. Corruption has such a cosy relationship with www.true-faith.co.uk

Brazilians that even being an impeached President doesn’t harm your political career! President Fernando Collor was impeached on fraud and corruption charges 2 years into his term. After completing an eight year ban from all political activities in 2006 he was duly elected to the Senate as representative of Alagoas State. He has since been re-elected to serve a second term. So do Brazilians have a problem with corruption? I get the impression that

it really depends on WHO is doing the corrupting that bothers people, as opposed to the actual corruption itself: Dilma’s critics are demanding her impeachment, for example, whilst simultaneously apparently forgetting the scale of corruption that went on under their hero, Fernando Henrique Cardoso. I think it is fair to say that corruption is a part of everybody’s day to day lives here. ‘O jeitinho’ (literally translated ‘the small way’

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Remember the brouhaha about the expenses scandal? It wouldn’t have registered a blip over here - fiddling their expenses is the least of the problems that Brazilians expect from their elected representatives.

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– which means finding a way out of any unwanted situation – this could be anything from getting out of a fine with a local cop to simply bending the rules of the highway code to make sure you get to the front of the queue of traffic to make sure you don’t miss the green light) is deeply embedded at every level of society. Which brings us to FIFA. Talking to my mate about the whole stink at FIFA when the 2018/2022 tournaments went to vote, he pointed out that, “The problems at FIFA were born in the CBF (Confederação Brasileira de Futebol – The Brazilian FA).” And he’s got a point. João Havelange’s timing could not have been www.true-faith.co.uk

better. Holding a seat on the IOC and having gained the presidency of the CBD (Confederação Brasileira Desportes – the Brazilian Sports Confederation) he turned his eye to FIFA. The incumbent President, Sir Stanley Rouse, was on the ropes. His disastrous decision to back the apartheid government in South Africa lost him the support of the whole African continent but in an almost cutesy postImperialistic Englishman’s naivety he just couldn’t see it, nor had he seen the shift in world football. He had failed to realise that South America had grown enough in stature to challenge Europe’s dominance of the sport and Latin America was losing patience with him.

Havelange struck. At a time when FIFA was growing, bringing in new associations to the fold, and as the World Cup was being expanded, Havelange went on a whirlwind world tour, glad-handing association presidents and officials all around South America, the Caribbean, Asia and, crucially, Africa. Backed by the Brazilian Junta, he often travelled with the Brazil squad: taking the likes of Pelé to places like Zaire gave Havelange star status that Rouse could never compete with – bearing in mind that Rouse hadn’t even visited the majority of these minor associations at all. Havelange, working on the knowledge that the Ivory Coast’s vote meant just as much as Germany’s, promised attention and

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“The problems at FIFA were born in the CBF (Confederação Brasileira de Futebol – The Brazilian FA).” And he’s got a point.

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money to the smallest footballing nations that Rouse simply never would have. What probably clinched the deal, however, was Havelange’s promise that under his presidency apartheid South Africa would never have a seat at FIFA. Havelange wiped Rouse out, 68 votes to 52, in 1974. He went on to become the second longest serving President of FIFA with a whopping 24 years in the hot seat. It was during Havelange’s reign that FIFA and the World Cup were transformed into the global phenomenon that they are today. Rouse ran the organisation so stringently that it looked like the non-profit organisation it supposedly is. Havelange had very different ideas. He immediately enlisted the help of Horst Dassler, son of Adi Dassler (founder of Adidas), and Patrick Nally, an expert in sports marketing and sponsorship, and together they created the model of sports www.true-faith.co.uk

sponsorship that is today’s standard. The World Cup’s official drink was CocaCola, its official sportswear was Adidas and more were soon to join them as official partners. Despite the money now coming in, Havelange was on a tight leash thanks to the General Secretary he had inherited from Rouse, Helmut Käser. The German was astute and methodical when it came to caring for FIFA’s cash flow, when a bill of 100,000 Swiss Francs landed on his desk to pay for a banquet, yet another conflict over money ensued. It is said that as a skilled politician Havelange never forgets a face, a name, a favour or a slight, but when it comes to money his memory has a curious ability to become vague and cloudy… A tendency that proved to be more than helpful to him over the years. Eventually, Havelange managed to make Käser ‘an offer he couldn’t refuse’, he accepted a generous

pension and stepped down in 1981 and was replaced by one Sepp Blatter. In the coming decade FIFA and the World Cup grew and the cash flow grew with it. In 1989 Havelange’s son-in-law, Ricardo Teixeira was appointed President of the CBF – a former financier and with no sports administration experience it has been written that without Havelange as his father-in-law, Teixeira would never have been elected. Hard to argue, really. I have tried to find out how much money Havelange and Teixeira have allegedly received in bribes and how much they have allegedly gained through tax avoidance but to be honest, there are so many streams of ‘income’ for these two crooks (I can call them that now – the FBI says so) that I just get lost… It is thought, however, that Havelange may have received something in the region of $50m and Teixeira in the region of $10m in bribes from the now-

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Eventually, Havelange managed to make Käser ‘an offer he couldn’t refuse’, he accepted a generous pension and stepped down in 1981 and was replaced by one Sepp Blatter

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bankrupt sports marketing company ISL between 1992 and 2000 alone. Of course, money wasn’t just flowing into FIFA from ISL. The scale of corruption and bribery at FIFA is astonishing, and this dishonest, sleazy culture that has brought the organisation to its knees was introduced, cultivated and encouraged under the watchful eye and bulging bank balances of JeanMarie Faustin Godefroid “João” Havelange. As his career began to draw to a close, Havelange resigned from the IOC after 48 years just days before an Ethics Committee was due to suspend him over an investigation into, yes, you guessed it, a long-running bribery scandal! In 2013 Havelange resigned his role as Honorary President of FIFA just as an Ethics Committee released its findings into his complicity in a long-running $100m corruption scandal. Three Brazilians are named in the current FBI indictment: José Hawilla www.true-faith.co.uk

(guilty plea), José Marguiles (fugitive) and former CBF President, José Marie Marin. Ricardo Teixeira is now also wanted for questioning by the FBI but he hasn’t been seen or heard from since he lost the CBF presidency in 2012. How Havelange (and Blatter) have so far escaped the American’s attention is beyond belief! The Brazilian squad is probably the most marketable, profitable squad in World Football and the fans are having to go through the indignity of discovering how the seleçäo brasileira has been exploited by the corrupt officials at the top of the domestic game in the full glare of the world’s media. Recent revelations that commercial partner, ISE, have had a say in squads, line-ups and substitutions in international friendlies have angered Brazilians, despite them accepting the fact that over here corruption and football are as closely tied as corruption and politics are. Also of interest to the

FBI is a friendly played out between Brazil and Argentina in Qatar just 2 weeks before the Middle East country ‘won’ the rights to host the 2022 World Cup – surprisingly, Teixeira was head of the CBF at the time and both he and his Argentinian counterpart both voted for Qatar in the subsequent World Cup vote. What a massive, massive coincidence! Ex-SBR headache inducer, raging goal machine and current Brazilian Senator, Romario, is attempting to push through legislation that will force a widereaching investigation into the running of the CBF and its financial arrangements. Speaking about Marin’s arrest he said, “Unfortunately it wasn’t our police who arrested them, but someone had to eventually arrest them one day.” He also went on to call Marin, “One of the biggest thieves”. As he’s spent the last few years raging against the heads of both FIFA and the CBF, it was with little surprise the amount of joy he took

CONTENTS

in the arrests at the Hotel Baur au Lac. If we add to all this that the domestic game is on its arse with broke clubs, miniscule attendances and a national team almost exclusively based abroad, you can start to understand just how the brazucas are feeling about the current FIFA scandals. Anger at the scale of corruption, embarrassment that their country is so closely connected to the problems, and glee that the Americans have done what their own police have been unable/reluctant to do despite the blatant evidence of the corruption going on. Where FIFA and the CBF go next is anyone’s guess, but it’s obvious that both organisations are in dire need of huge overhauls from top to bottom.

tf 120


Let’s tackle cancer! Make a donation today. Click here. For more information or to donate online please visit www.sirbobbyrobsonfoundation.org.uk Or send a cheque to The Sir Bobby Robson foundation, Room 203, Cheviot Court, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7DN.

www.true-faith.co.uk

CONTENTS

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Charity (Reg. 1057213)

tf 121


A lot has been said and written about Newcastle United’s profits during the tenure of Mike Ashley, who via St James Holdings Limited, purchased 41.6% of Newcastle United PLC’s issued shares on 23rd May 2007, and bought up the remaining shares by 6th June 2007.

CHRIS BETTS Follow @bettsy1892

MONEY SHOTS – A SHORT HISTORY OF MIKE ASHLEY AND HIS FINANCIAL OPERATIONS AT NEWCASTLE UNITED A lot has been said and written about Newcastle United’s profits during the tenure of Mike Ashley, who via St James Holdings Limited, purchased 41.6% of Newcastle United PLC’s issued shares on 23rd May 2007, and bought up the remaining shares by 6th June 2007. Whilst the then Chairman, Chris Mort was responsible for the Chairman’s statement which formed part of the ‘year ending 30th June 2007’ company accounts it is clear that given the purchase wasn’t completed until June that

the financial performance for the year ending 30th June 2007 was a reflection of the previous regime’s running of the business and that we can actually judge Mike Ashley and his Board’s running of the business, starting from the year ending 30th June 2008. Newcastle United PLC’s accounts had recorded, between 2001 and 2007 cumulative losses of £69.5m (broken down below) in the 7 years prior to Mike Ashley, whilst in the 7 years since, Newcastle United Limited have recorded cumulative profits of £10.0m.

However, whilst the profitability of a business is important information, a profit figure includes items which are purely book keeping entries and are not real transactions, such as depreciation charges, amortisation and impairments, therefore, a more accurate assessment of Newcastle United’s financial performance may be found by studying it’s income, particularly when Newcastle United is expected to operate within it’s own means, following the “No more capital outlay” message released in

May 2010. (See attached link click here ) In order to do this, we need to get an understanding of the structure of Newcastle United, the type of subsidiary companies that Mike Ashley purchased and what areas of income they were responsible for. The company Mike Ashley purchased in 2007 was Newcastle United PLC, a public limited company whose shares were publically traded on the London stock exchange and what came with the purchase of Newcastle

11 months Newcastle United PLC Profits/ 2001 2002 2003 2004 (Losses)2001-07 Retained Profit/ £13,314,000 £7,539,000 £172,000 £215,000 (Loss) for the year Newcastle Utd Limited Profits/ 2008 2009 2010 2011 (Losses) 20082014 Retained Profit/ (Loss) for the year £20,316,000 £15,197,000 £17,091,000 £32,619,000 www.true-faith.co.uk

CONTENTS

2005 £4,054,000

2006

2007

Cumulative 7 Year Loss

£12,033,000 £32,892,000 £69,445,000

2012

2013

2014

Cumulative 7 Year Profit

£1,365,000

£9,892,000

£18,718,000

£9,990,000 tf 122


MONEY SHOTS – A SHORT HISTORY OF MIKE ASHLEY AND HIS FINANCIAL OPERATIONS AT NEWCASTLE UNITED

United PLC was a host of subsidiary companies. In fact there were 25 subsidiary companies plus 1 joint venture. Most of the subsidiaries were dormant, (not trading) therefore the subsidiary companies, still operational under the control of Newcastle United PLC were: • Newcastle United Football Company - A professional Football Club • Newcastle United Enterprises Limited General Commercial Company • St James’ Park Newcastle - General Commercial Company • Newcastle United Football Club (International) Limited - General Commercial Company (BASED IN GIBRALTAR) • nufc.co.uk Limited Exploitation of Internet and media rights There was also a joint venture with MGM Mirage called MGM Grand Newcastle (Holdings) Limited described as a ‘mixed use development’, however, in 2010 this investment was moved to another area of the www.true-faith.co.uk

structure, but under MASH Holdings Limited and no longer reported under Newcastle United Limited. Accounting standards require each company to produce their own accounts whilst the parent company, (who back in 2007 were Newcastle United PLC) has responsibility for producing a consolidated set of accounts which represents the performance of the whole group of companies. The first thing Mike Ashley did was take the company into private ownership, therefore, Newcastle United PLC became Newcastle United Limited. As a result, the term ‘Newcastle United PLC’ is no longer used after the 2007 set of accounts. We will now look at the income performances; however, we shall include performances for the year ending 30th June 2007 which will represent the final year of the previous regime. It would be misleading to compare figures from the previous year, 2006 as the then Board made a decision to change the company year end from 31st July to 30th June, therefore figures for 2006 represent only 11 months of trading instead of 12 months.

Any activity from the Gibraltar based, Newcastle United Football Club (International) Limited is not included in this information. Any money received from selling players is treated outside of ‘revenue’ and therefore is not included in this analysis. Newcastle United’s income is split into the 3 segments, which are as follows: • Media income - consists of television and broadcasting income including distributions from Premier League broadcasting rights, cup competitions and local radio. • Commercial income - consists of catering, conferencing and banqueting, sponsorship and merchandising. • Match day income consists of season ticket, corporate hospitality and gate receipts, releases from the Bond scheme and sundry football income Year Ending 30th June 2007 St James’ Park Newcastle Limited This company had been trading since August 1999

CONTENTS

and is a subsidiary of Newcastle United PLC. It was granted a sub-lease over the St James’ Park stadium by Newcastle United Football Company. This company is entitled to all ticket revenues (including season tickets and corporate hospitality revenues) from events held at the stadium, the company then pays ‘management fees’ to Newcastle United Football Company for the provision of services. In 2007 St James’ Park Newcastle Limited recorded Income of £31.7m Newcastle United Enterprises Limited This company had been trading since December 1997 and is a subsidiary of Newcastle United PLC. It was set up to trade as a general commercial company. This company held the contract and subsequent income from the club’s principal kit sponsor, (who at the time were) Adidas, plus other sponsorships and royalties. In 2007 Newcastle United Enterprises recorded income of £4.0m nufc.co.uk Limited tf 123


MONEY SHOTS – A SHORT HISTORY OF MIKE ASHLEY AND HIS FINANCIAL OPERATIONS AT NEWCASTLE UNITED

This company had been trading since December 2002 and is a subsidiary of Newcastle United PLC. It was set up to acquire and exploit an exclusive license of the internet and certain media rights of Newcastle United including the operating and hosting of the club’s website. In 2007 nufc.co.uk recorded £474k income, although during the year the termination of the website’s betting partnership, caused a drop in income Newcastle United Football Company Limited This company has been incorporated since March 1899 and have been submitting accounts to companies house since 1974. It is set up as a professional football club with ancillary activities. We are able to do a segmental breakdown of income into Media, commercial and match day income. As the club had finished 13th it suffered a 15% fall in central distribution media income from the previous season however, channel 5’s broadcasting of our www.true-faith.co.uk

UEFA Cup campaign partially offset that reduction. Commercial income grew as a result of increased sponsorship and catering / banqueting due to our UEFA cup campaign. At this point most of our match day income was housed in St James’ Newcastle Limited and Newcastle United Football Company charged a management fee roughly equal to the level of match day income. As this is already included above, we have not included it again as management fee income in Newcastle United Football Company. • Media income was £25.9m • Commercial Income was £23.5m • Match Day Income was £1.9m Newcastle United PLC This is the ultimate controlling party and the Parent company has responsible for the consolidated group accounts. It presents the overall, group income, which includes any of it’s own generated income as £87.1m broken down as follows:

• Commercial £27.6m which represented 31.7% of income • Match Day £33.6m which represented 38.5% of income • Media £25.9m which represented 29.7% of income Year Ending 30th June 2008 St James’ Park Newcastle Limited Following repayment of securitised loans in Sept 2007, the company were no longer required to collect ticket revenues on behalf of the group, the directors decided to transfer season ticket income into Newcastle United Football Company from this point.

a result of the new Premier League TV deal. With no European participation, match day and commercial revenue decreased. • Media income was £41.1m • Commercial Income was £21.6m • Match Day Income was £6.65m Newcastle United Limited This name change reflects the status as a privately owned company, which was now wholly owned and controlled by St James Holdings Limited. In this year consolidated group accounts were reported through St James Holdings as well as Newcastle United Limited.

In 2008 St James’ Park Newcastle Limited recorded Income of £23.6m

In 2008 it records group income as £99.4m broken down as follows:

Newcastle United Enterprises Limited In 2008 Newcastle United Enterprises recorded income of £3.9m

In 2008 nufc.co.uk recorded income of £556k

• Commercial £25.9m which represented 26.1% of income • Media £41.1m which represented 41.4% of income • Match Day £32.3m which represented 32.6% of income

Newcastle United Football Company Limited The club’s turnover increased this year largely as

Year Ending 30th June 2009 St James’ Park Newcastle Limited The company was no

nufc.co.uk Limited

CONTENTS

tf 124


MONEY SHOTS – A SHORT HISTORY OF MIKE ASHLEY AND HIS FINANCIAL OPERATIONS AT NEWCASTLE UNITED

longer trading. All ticket revenue was now housed in Newcastle United Football Company under ‘Match day’ Newcastle United Enterprises Limited In 2009 Newcastle United Enterprises recorded income of £3.5m nufc.co.uk Limited In 2009 nufc.co.uk recorded income of £373k Newcastle Football Limited

United Company

This was the year that Newcastle United were relegated which impacted on all 3 main revenue streams with merit payments decreasing, lower attendances impacting on match day revenue and the club’s decision to outsource catering operations meant a further reduction on income In 2009 • Media income was £37.6m • Commercial Income was £15.7m • Match Day Income was £29m Newcastle United Limited In 2008 it records group income as £99.4m broken www.true-faith.co.uk

down as follows: • Commercial £19.4m which represented 22.6% of income • Match Day £29m which represented 33.7% of income • Media £37.6m which represented 43.7% of income Match day income could now be subdivided as: • Season Ticket Income £15.6m • Gate receipts £5.5m • Corporate Hospitality £6.7m • Other Match day Income £1.2m Year Ending 30 June 2010 Newcastle United Enterprises Limited In 2010 Newcastle United Enterprises recorded income of £3.2m nufc.co.uk Limited In 2010 nufc.co.uk recorded income of £142k Newcastle United Football Company Limited This was the year that Newcastle United operated in The Championship, which saw a significant reduction across all income streams. However, it was in this year that Newcastle

United secured a new kit manufacturing deal with Puma and also agreed a shirt sponsorship extension with Northern Rock. In 2010

In 2010 Newcastle United Enterprises did not trade and income from kit suppliers was now housed under Newcastle United Football Company under ‘Commercial’

• Media income was £16.1m • Commercial Income was £12.2m • Match Day Income was £21m

nufc.co.uk Limited The activity around this company was transferred to another part of the group. In 2011 nufc.co.uk recorded income of £140k

Newcastle United Limited In 2010 group income is recorded as £52.4m broken down as follows:

Newcastle United Football Company Limited As a reflection of operating back in the Premier League all income streams increased to some extent. The club introduced a range of new ticket deals to encourage take up. The club also stated it was one of it’s aims to grow commercial income.

• Commercial £15.4m which represented 29% of income • Match Day £21m which represented 40% of income • Media £16m which represented 31% of income Match day income was subdivided as: • Season Ticket Income £11m Gate receipts £6.5m • Corporate Hospitality £2.8m • Other Match day Income £700k Year Ending 30th June 2011 Newcastle United Enterprises Limited

CONTENTS

In 2011 • Media income was £48.5.m • Commercial Income was £15.8m • Match Day Income was £24.2m Newcastle United Limited In 2011 group income is recorded as £88.5m broken down as follows: • Commercial £15.8m which represented 17.8% tf 125


MONEY SHOTS – A SHORT HISTORY OF MIKE ASHLEY AND HIS FINANCIAL OPERATIONS AT NEWCASTLE UNITED

of income • Match Day £24.2m which represented 27.4% of income • Media £48.5m which represented 54.8% of income Match day income was subdivided as • Season Ticket Income £11.8m • Gate receipts £7.1m • Corporate Hospitality £4.2m • Other Match day Income £1.1m Year Ending 30th June 2012 Newcastle United Football Company Limited A take up of more than 5,000 fans for the discounted season ticket deal meant ticket revenue did not rise in line with our increased attendance, as a result of finishing 5th in the Premier League. Media income did increase as a result of a higher merit payment, however, despite having a clear aim to grow commercial income it fell in 2012. Virgin Money also picked up the Northern Rock sponsorship after a takeover. www.true-faith.co.uk

In 2012 • Media income was £56m • Commercial Income was £13.8m • Match Day Income was £24m Newcastle United Limited In 2012 group income is recorded as £93.3m broken down as follows: • Commercial £13.8m which represented 14.7% of income • Match Day £23.9m which represented 25.7% of income • Media £55.6m which represented 59.6% of income

On the whole the income level increased. Although whilst the extra Europa League games helped increase match day revenue our low placed finished saw merit money income reduce in the media income stream.

increased.

In 2013

• Commercial £25.6m which represented 19.7% of income • Match Day £25.9m which represented 20% of income • Media £78.3m which represented 60.3% of income

• Commercial £17m which represented 17.8% • Match Day £28m which represented 29% • Media £51m which represented 53.2% Sadly, the club stopped breaking down match day income into further segments.

• Season Ticket Income £11.4m • Gate receipts £6.2m • Corporate Hospitality £4.5m • Other Match day Income £1.8m

Year Ending 30th June 2014 Newcastle United Football Company Limited & Newcastle United Limited Both the Football Company and the Parent Company accounts showed the same income figures in 2014.

Year Ending 30th June 2013 Newcastle United Football Company Limited & Newcastle United Limited Both the Football Company and the Parent Company accounts showed the same income figures in 2013.

On the whole the income level increased again, although the loss of the extra Europa League games caused match day revenue to decrease. A new TV deal commenced in this year and both the merit money stream and the live TV appearances money

Match day income was subdivided as

CONTENTS

Commercial income increased as a result of a new shirt sponsorship deal with W*ng* and an extension to the Puma kit supply contract. In 2014

tf 126


MONEY SHOTS

Overall company Peformances St James Park Newcastle Limited St James' Park Newcastle Income

2007

2008

2009

Newcastle United Enterprises Limited 2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Newcastle United Enterprises

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

Revenue generated from Kit Sponsor

3,975,321

3,870,698

3,547,119

3,167,282

-

-

-

-

Total turnover

3,975,321

3,870,698

3,547,119

3,167,282

0

-

-

-

Turnover movement £

104,623

323,579

379,837

3,167,282

-

-

-

Turnover movement %

-2.63%

-8.36%

-10.71%

-100%

-

-

-

Turnover

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

31,704,903

23,584,089

0

-

-

-

-

-

Turnover All Ticket Revenue For Events At SJP (Inc Season Ticket & Corporate)

Total turnover

31,704,903

0

23,584,089

-

-

-

-

2012 2013 2014

-

NUFC.CO.UK Limited Turnover movement £

8,120,814

23,584,089

-

-

-

-

-

nufc.co.uk Income

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

Turnover

Turnover movement %

-25.61%

-100%

-

-

-

-

Newcastle United Football Company Limited Newcastle United Football Company Income Turnover

2007

2008

2009

-

Revenue generated from www.nufc.co.uk

473,856 556,123 372,679 141,628 139,947

575

-

-

Total Turnover

473,856 556,123 372,679 141,628 139,947

575

0

0

-575

-

Turnover Movement £

82,267 -183,444 -231,051 -1,681 -139,372

Turnover Movement %

17.36% -32.99% -62.00% -1.19% -99.59% -100.00%

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

-

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

Management Charges & Rent

35,688,000

29,497,000

3,350,000

3,000,000

0

0

0

0

Media

25,882,000

41,116,000

37,635,000

16,083,000

48,461,000

55,601,000

51,040,000

78,263,000

Commercial

23,459,000

21,564,000

15,671,000

12,177,000

15,712,000

13,753,000

17,081,000

25,572,000

Match day

1,853,000

6,650,000

29,025,000

20,948,000

24,251,000

23,942,000

27,758,000

25,910,000

Total Turnover

86,882,000

98,827,000

85,681,000

52,208,000

88,424,000

93,296,000

95,879,000

129,745,000

Management Charges & Rent

-6,191,000

-26,147,000

-350,000

-3,000,000

0

0

0

Media

15,234,000

-3,481,000

-21,552,000

32,378,000

7,140,000

-4,561,000

27,223,000

Commercial

-1,895,000

-5,893,000

-3,494,000

3,535,000

-1,959,000

3,328,000

8,491,000

Match day

4,797,000

22,375,000

-8,077,000

3,303,000

-309,000

3,816,000

-1,848,000

11,945,000

-13,146,000

-33,473,000

36,216,000

4,872,000

2,583,000

33,866,000

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Management Charges & Rent

-17.35%

-88.64%

-10.45%

-100.00%

-

-

-

Media

58.86%

-8.47%

-57.27%

201.32%

14.73%

-8.20%

53.34%

Commercial

-8.08%

-27.33%

-22.30%

29.03%

-12.47%

24.20%

49.71%

Match day

258.88%

336.47%

-27.83%

15.77%

-1.27%

15.94%

-6.66%

Turnover Movement £

Total Turnover Movement Turnover Movement %

Match Day Turnover Split

%

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

Season Ticket Revenue

N/A

N/A

15,600,000

11,000,000

11,800,000

11,400,000

N/A

N/A

Gate Receipts

N/A

N/A

5,500,000

6,500,000

7,100,000

6,200,000

N/A

N/A

Corporate Hospitality Boxes

N/A

N/A

6,700,000

2,800,000

4,200,000

4,500,000

N/A

N/A

Other Match Day Receipts

N/A

N/A

1,200,000

700,000

1,100,000

1,800,000

N/A

N/A

-

-

29,000,000

21,000,000

24,200,000

23,900,000

-

-

Season Ticket Revenue

N/A

N/A

N/A

-4,600,000

800,000

-400,000

N/A

N/A

Gate Receipts

N/A

N/A

N/A

1,000,000

600,000

-900,000

N/A

N/A

Corporate Hospitality Boxes

N/A

N/A

N/A

-3,900,000

1,400,000

300,000

N/A

N/A

Other Match Day Receipts

N/A

N/A

N/A

-500,000

400,000

700,000

N/A

N/A

Total Matchday Turnover Movement £

-

-

-

-8,000,000

3,200,000

-300,000

-

-

Matchday Turnover Movement %

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Season Ticket Revenue

N/A

N/A

N/A

-29.49%

7.27%

-3.39%

N/A

N/A

Gate Receipts

N/A

N/A

N/A

18.18%

9.23%

-12.68%

N/A

N/A

Corporate Hospitality Boxes

N/A

N/A

N/A

-58.21%

50.00%

7.14%

N/A

N/A

Other Match Day Receipts

N/A

N/A

N/A

-41.67%

57.14%

63.64%

N/A

N/A

MATCHDAY Matchday Turnover Movement £

www.true-faith.co.uk

CONTENTS

tf 127


MONEY SHOTS

Overall company Peformances Newcastle United Limited Income Newcastle United Limited Income

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

Media

25,882,000

41,116,000

37,635,000

16,083,000

48,461,000

55,565,000

51,040,000

78,263,000

Commercial

27,644,000

25,890,000

19,415,000

15,386,000

15,752,000

13,753,000

17,081,000

25,572,000

Match day

33,557,000

32,352,000

29,025,000

20,948,000

24,251,000

23,942,000

27,758,000

25,910,000

Total Turnover

87,083,000

99,358,000

86,075,000

52,417,000

88,464,000

93,260,000

95,879,000

129,745,000

Media

15,234,000

-3,481,000

-21,552,000

32,378,000

7,104,000

-4,525,000

27,223,000

Commercial

-1,754,000

-6,475,000

-4,029,000

366,000

-1,999,000

3,328,000

8,491,000

Match day

-1,205,000

-3,327,000

-8,077,000

3,303,000

-309,000

3,816,000

-1,848,000

Total Turnover Movement

12,275,000

-13,283,000

-33,658,000

36,047,000

4,796,000

2,619,000

33,866,000

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Media

58.86%

-8.47%

-57.27%

201.32%

14.66%

-8.14%

53.34%

Commercial

-6.34%

-25.01%

-20.75%

2.38%

-12.69%

24.20%

49.71%

Match day

-3.59%

-10.28%

-27.83%

15.77%

-1.27%

15.94%

-6.66%

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

£

Season Ticket Revenue

N/A

N/A

15,600,000

11,000,000

11,800,000

11,400,000

N/A

N/A

Gate Receipts

N/A

N/A

5,500,000

6,500,000

7,100,000

6,200,000

N/A

N/A

Corporate Hospitality Boxes

N/A

N/A

6,700,000

2,800,000

4,200,000

4,500,000

N/A

N/A

Other Match Day Receipts

N/A

N/A

1,200,000

700,000

1,100,000

1,800,000

N/A

N/A

-

-

29,000,000

21,000,000

24,200,000

23,900,000

-

-

Season Ticket Revenue

N/A

N/A

N/A

-4,600,000

800,000

-400,000

N/A

N/A

Gate Receipts

N/A

N/A

N/A

1,000,000

600,000

-900,000

N/A

N/A

Corporate Hospitality Boxes

N/A

N/A

N/A

-3,900,000

1,400,000

300,000

N/A

N/A

Other Match Day Receipts

N/A

N/A

N/A

-500,000

400,000

700,000

N/A

N/A

Total Matchday Turnover Movement £

-

-

-

-8,000,000

3,200,000

-300,000

-

-

Matchday Turnover Movement %

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Season Ticket Revenue

N/A

N/A

N/A

-29.49%

7.27%

-3.39%

N/A

N/A

Gate Receipts

N/A

N/A

N/A

18.18%

9.23%

-12.68%

N/A

N/A

Corporate Hospitality Boxes

N/A

N/A

N/A

-58.21%

50.00%

7.14%

N/A

N/A

Other Match Day Receipts

N/A

N/A

N/A

-41.67%

57.14%

63.64%

N/A

N/A

Turnover %s

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Media

29.7%

41.4%

43.7%

30.7%

54.8%

59.6%

53.2%

60.3%

Commercial

31.7%

26.1%

22.6%

29.4%

17.8%

14.7%

17.8%

19.7%

Match day

38.5%

32.6%

33.7%

40.0%

27.4%

25.7%

29.0%

20.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Season Ticket Revenue

-

-

53.8%

52.4%

48.8%

47.7%

-

-

Gate Receipts

-

-

19.0%

31.0%

29.3%

25.9%

-

-

Corporate Hospitality Boxes

-

-

23.1%

13.3%

17.4%

18.8%

-

-

Other Match Day Receipts

-

-

4.1%

3.3%

4.5%

7.5%

-

-

0.0%

0.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

0

0

Turnover

Turnover Movement £

Turnover Movement %

Match Day Turnover Split

MATCHDAY TOTAL

%

Matchday Turnover Movement £

Match day %s

www.true-faith.co.uk

CONTENTS

tf 128


MONEY SHOTS

Year on year comparisons (Note: 2007 can’t be compared to 2006 as mentioned above)

Media Income In 2008 Newcastle United experienced growth of £15m (59%) in it’s media income segment as this income stream grew from £26m to £41m. This was explained by the new 3 year, Premier League TV deal. In 2009 there was a decrease of 3m (8%) as media income fell to £38m. This was explained as a reduction in the merit money received for league placing as United were relegated to the Championship. In 2010 media income fell dramatically by £22m (57%) to £16m due to the significant reduction in value of the Championship media TV deals. United were promoted at the first time of asking and as a result United’s income grew by 32m (201%) to £48m as they caught the last year of the 3 year TV deal. In 2012 it grew again, by £7m (15%) to £56m as a greater portion of the merit money was received for finishing 5th. The club also benefitted from 2 extra live TV appearances. www.true-faith.co.uk

In 2013 media income fell by £5m (8%) to £51m as the club fell from 5th to 16th. Extra TV revenue from our Europa League campaign failed to offset the merit money reduction In 2014 the media income increased significantly by £27m (53%) to £78m as media income benefitted from a brand new 3 year Premier League TV deal. United’s media income performance is summarised visually below

In 2012 United reported a disappointing return as commercial income fell again by £2m (13%) to £14m to £20m. The club’s outsourcing of catering operations accounts for some of this reduction however an average drop of 3,000 on attendances was also experienced.

announce it as priority area to improve in 2011.

In 2010 and in the championship, commercial

But it grew by £3m (24%) in 2013 to £17m

In 2012 United reported a disappointing return as commercial income fell again by £2m (13%) to £14m

Newcastle United Media Income

Commercial Income In 2008 Commercial income dropped by £2m (6%) to £26m this was explained as a result of not competing in the UEFA cup as we had done the previous season. In 2009 it suffered a further £6m (25%) reduction

income fell again by a further £4m (21%) to just £15m even though new kit supply and sponsorship deals were agreed. Upon promotion commercial income remained fairly static although the club did

CONTENTS

In 2014 it increased again, this time by £8m (50%) to £26m and after a period of poor returns, United finally reached the level of 2008. This was explained as a result of the new sponsorship deal with W*ng* and an extension tf 129


MONEY SHOTS

Year on year comparisons to the Puma kit supply contract. United’s commercial income performance is summarised visually below

But it grew by £4m (16%) in 2013 to £28m as 7 extra Europa League fixtures took place at SJP. Without those extra fixtures, Match Day income

Newcastle United Commmercial Income

Match Day Income In 2008, and with no UEFA cup football, match day income dropped by £1m (4%) to £32m In 2009 as attendances fell, it suffered a further £3m (10%) reduction to £29m.

Here we see how Media income at Newcastle United has grown from £26m in 2007 to £78m in 2014. As an indication of the significance in that change, our match day and commercial income in 2014

dropped by £2m (7%) to £26m In 2014

both equalled what media

United’s Match Day income performance is summarised visually below

2007 at £26m and it stands

income we recorded in out that the proportion of income we receive in the

Newcastle United Match Day Income

As an indication of the significance in that change, our match day and commercial income in 2014 both equalled what media income we recorded in 2007 at £26m and it stands out that the proportion of income we receive in the match day stream is now way behind media, however in 2007 match day income was actually our highest revenue stream.

In 2010 and in the championship, match day income fell again by a further £8m (28%) to £21m as a further 5,000 fell off the average attendance. Upon promotion match day income grew by £3m (16%) to £24m as average attendance increased by 4,000. In 2012 this remained flat at £24m www.true-faith.co.uk

Newcastle United’s income proportions can also be analysed, as the dependence upon Media income increases..

match day stream is now way behind media, however in 2007 match day income was actually our highest revenue stream.

CONTENTS

tf 130


MONEY SHOTS

Year on year comparisons So, looking at United’s income at a top line level, we can see the income has increased from £87m in 2007 to £130m in 2014, but how do Newcastle United compare with the rest of the Premier League?

As a % proportion change, match day income represented 39% in 2007, now it represents 20%. Commercial income in 2007 was 32% but in 2014 in equates to www.true-faith.co.uk

20%. Media income has doubled from being equal to 30% in 2007 to 60% in 2014. Whilst all income is important you can see the trend which indicates the shift in importance

of media income at Newcastle United Above.

The figures are available to compare 2008 to 2014, therefore Newcastle United’s 2007 income is not included in this analysis

So, looking at United’s income at a top line level, we can see the income has increased from £87m in 2007 to £130m in 2014,

*Note that the year Newcastle United played in the championship (2009/10) is not included in the following analysis

CONTENTS

tf 131


MONEY SHOTS

Year on year comparisons Premier League Income Breakdown 2007-08 Pos.

Club

2008-09 Turnover (£ms)

2010-11

Club

Turnover (£ms)

Club

Turnover (£ms)

1

Manchester United

256

Arsenal

313

Manchester United

331

2

Arsenal

223

Manchester United

279

Arsenal

256

3

Chelsea

214

Chelsea

206

Chelsea

222

4

Liverpool

159

Liverpool

185

Liverpool

184

5

Tottenham Hotspur

115

Tottenham Hotspur

113

Tottenham Hotspur

163

6

Newcastle United

99

Manchester City

87

Manchester City

153

7

Manchester City

82

Newcastle United

86

Aston Villa

92

8

Aston Villa

76

Everton

80

Newcastle United

89

79

Everton

82

9

Everton

76

Aston Villa

10

Portsmouth

71

West Ham United

76

West Ham United

81

11

Sunderland

64

Portsmouth

71

Sunderland

79

67

Fulham

77

12

Bolton Wanderers

59

Fulham

13

West Ham United

57

Sunderland

65

Bolton Wanderers

68

14

Blackburn Rovers

56

Bolton Wanderers

59

Stoke City

67

15

Fulham

54

Stoke City

54

Wolverhampton Wanderers

64

51

West Bromwich Albion

59

16

Middlesbrough

48

Hull City

17

Wigan Athletic

43

Blackburn Rovers

51

Blackburn Rovers

58

18

West Bromwich Albion

27

Birmingham City

47

Birmingham City

56

19

Stoke City

11

Wigan Athletic

46

Blackpool

52

20

Hull City

9

Middlesbrough

42

Wigan Athletic

51

89.95

League Average

102.85

League Average

114.2

League Average 2007-08 Pos.

Club

2012-13 Turnover (£ms)

2013-14

Club

Turnover (£ms)

Club

Turnover (£ms)

1

Manchester United

320

Manchester United

363

Manchester United

433

2

Chelsea

261

Arsenal

283

Manchester City

348

3

Arsenal

245

Manchester City

271

Chelsea

324

4

Manchester City

231

Chelsea

260

Arsenal

301

5

Liverpool

169

Liverpool

206

Liverpool

256

6

Tottenham Hotspur

144

Tottenham Hotspur

147

Tottenham Hotspur

181

7

Newcastle United

93

Newcastle United

96

Newcastle United

130

8

Everton

81

West Ham United

91

Everton

121

9

Aston Villa

80

Everton

86

West Ham United

117

10

Fulham

79

Aston Villa

84

Aston Villa

111

11

Sunderland

78

Sunderland

76

Southampton

106

12

Norwich City

75

Norwich City

75

Sunderland

104

13

Stoke City

71

Fulham

73

Swansea City

99

14

West Bromwich Albion

67

Southampton

72

Stoke City

98

15

Bolton Wanderers

65

West Bromwich Albion

70

Norwich City

94

16

Swansea City

65

Stoke City

67

Fulham

92

17

Queens Park Rangers

64

Swansea City

67

Crystal Palace

90

18

Wolverhampton Wanderers

60

Queens Park Rangers

61

West Bromwich Albion

87

19

Blackburn Rovers

54

Reading

59

Hull City

85

20

Wigan Athletic

53

Wigan Athletic

56

Cardiff City

83

League Average

117.75

League Average

128.15

League Average

163

From the above we can see that Newcastle United have never been out of the top 8 in the Premier www.true-faith.co.uk

League when it comes to Revenue, and all but 1 of the seasons sampled has seen Newcastle United in

the top 7. Until Manchester City’s investment arrived Newcastle United had previously been in the top

CONTENTS

6 in the Premier League’s revenue table in 2008. So no matter how United have performed on the pitch, the tf 132


MONEY SHOTS

In summary club has remained fairly static, between 6th and 8th when it comes to our position within the Premier League revenue standings. However, It will now take a dramatic change to catch 6th placed Tottenham Hotspur who received over £50m more than NUFC in revenue in 2014.

Premier League ever lost one of it’s 4 Champion’s League places. In summary, Newcastle United’s income has increased dramatically during Mike Ashley’s tenure at the club, however as the information above indicates, the majority

Premier League Averages

When It comes to Premier League averages, and whilst we must acknowledge that this is a skewed average, as the top 5 clubs in 2014 earned more income than the remaining 15 clubs put together, we see that Newcastle United are consistently below the Premier League average income figure since 2008. Given the gulf in the income of the top 5, this information serves more to show how unbalanced the competition is rather than any under-performance from Newcastle United. It would be interesting to see if the top 5 income remained so disproportionate if the www.true-faith.co.uk

of this growth has taken place in the media segment where both domestic and overseas broadcasting rights are rising with each new deal. In the match day segment Newcastle United have had mixed results. In a bid to increase ground occupancy rates the club have offered a range of discounts on season ticket deals. There are pros and cons to this arrangement, but the obvious con is that an impact is felt in the match day income strand. With regard to commercial income, again the club has had mixed results. Whilst the match day catering

income was sacrificed to reduce the direct costs of running a catering operation an impact is felt on income. The club’s trade off on advertising income not received for space offered to other companies within the MASH group vs. Not paying interest on loans from the same MASH group, continues, and it’s difficult ascertain the true performance of merchandising operations, conferencing and banqueting and other sponsorship/royalties (For EG – NUFC must receive an amount of income from computer games etc using their licences and branding) as figures have not been made available. There’s much talk of a new kit sponsorship deal coming soon with rumours of an early end to the arrangement with W*ng*. However Newcastle United’s extension to the Puma kit supply deal (See attached link here) means we’re unlikely to see a change in this area in the short term. Inthewiderschemeofthings, we’ve drifted to being over £30m behind the skewed Premier League average income position although

CONTENTS

as mentioned earlier, that goes for everyone outside of those clubs competing for Champions League places, whilst our position amongst the top 8 remains intact. This may indicate our natural position within the premier League pecking order if we were using financial resources as a benchmark. As ever with a set of accounts, in real life terms, we are a year behind with our information and we shall have a while to wait yet before we learn of our income performance in the season just finished, but with the club continuing to reinforce the desire to grow commercial income, this will be an area of interest going forward. Links to data sources All of NUFC’s company accounts were paid for and downloaded from Companies House at: Company info click here. Premier league Club Accounts click here. Premier League Stats click here. Swiss Ramble Blog click here. tf 133


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tf 134


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CONTENTS

tf 135


Postcards F rom The Edge Paully

So ‘Schteve’ it is then. Mind, he didn’t endear himself to our fans when he was unveiled by failing to address the media with a few sentences conducted in a broad Geordie accent although Mike ‘Kim Jongun’ Ashley’s idiotic decision to ban 99% of the media more than likely prevented that. He certainly wasn’t my first choice but he has my full support and hopefully he also has that from the owner. He surely must have after Ashley stated that he will only sell the club if we win a trophy or finish in the top four. That is of course unless he is a complete sadistic who detests us so much so that he wants to infuriate us as our owner until he pops his clogs. Speaking of that bizarre footwear; this must be the first time in history that both Tyne and Wear clubs have Dutch managers which should add extra spice to the derbies albeit a mere smidgen of spice from our lot will be an improvement on our last five displays. I’ve nothing against him but he is an uninspiring appointment when you factor in his record at his previous four

www.true-faith.co.uk

CONTENTS

clubs and also due to the other coaches that we were linked with. De Boer, Laudrup, Tuchel, Garde and Vieira were all credited with an interest not to mention the fact that Jurgen Klopp was spotted in the Bee Hive necking bottles of LCL whilst shouting vulgar German swear words at the horses on the telly. Well, either that or he was shouting for his mate who was called Kuntz . The Vieira link well and truly grabbed me by my bollocks. I had visions of him tearing up the blueprint and igniting the whole club and city. I imagined him recruiting the likes of Bergkamp to his coaching team as well as bringing in David Dein to run the club in a proper manner. He’s a humongous name in world football so he should have the capability to attract many top players. Then I woke up in a ket-den covered in my own spew and remembered who our owner was. It would have been a risky appointment but then again all appointments are risky; espec ially those at the ‘clap clinic ’. It tf 136


Postcards F rom The Edge Paully

If he acc omplishes what he did at ‘Boro then I predict that the ‘McClaren tuft’ will be the most popular hairstyle on Tyneside

www.true-faith.co.uk

would have completely reinvigorated our fan base and sent out a massive statement of intent. Why didn’t we at least bother talking to these coaches? I suppose we all know the reason why and that is down to the lack of ambition from the owner. Having said that, McClaren is a highly rated coach who has won major trophies in both England and abroad with clubs who aren’t used to winning things so hopefully that daft ‘comes in threes’ saying materialises here. His training methods and ideas have been praised by many top players so hopefully this should lead to the abolishment of the ‘floated corner to the far post’ corner. He is also a zillion times more likeable than the previous smug, arrogant, obnoxious, odious cretin who will show his true colours with Palace next season. I have faith that the turgid, negative hoofball and ‘hope for a bit of magic’ nonsense which we have been served up for the last four and a half years will be replaced with a pleasing style of football. We’ll hopefully be

able to go to SJP and away grounds and enjoy matches again. His appointment on to the football board should also mean that he is an input and influence with regards to the type of players that we are trying to bring in. There is no point in recruiting technically gifted players if they are going to spend their time during matches admiring flying pigs and hot air balloons in the sky. Carr and McClaren need to be on the same wavelength or else the system simply will not work. His reign got off to a very positive and much-needed start when he sent Messrs Cardew and Stone packing. I’m envisaging a scene whereby McClaren brutally despatched of them both with his sharpened brolly using power generated from his berserk tuft of hair similar to what Zorro used to do to villains via his sword and daft mask. They were both completely out of their depth and their touchline persona resembled two confused men who had forgotten where they had parked their cars. “Is it owa there lyke,

CONTENTS

Stoney?”; “I divven’t knar, I’m sure it’s owa that way lyke, JC”. I’m actually pleased that we went on that shambolic run of taking just one point out of a possible 30 towards the end of the season as there is no doubt that Ashley had Cardew lined-up to take over permanently as long as he steadied the ship. That idea was thankfully sent smashing out of the porthole once he almost performed the football version of the Titanic disaster on our club. It is only right that McClaren should be allowed to recruit his own men and hopefully they will be able to have a beneficial effect on our players because the majority of them have gone backwards over these last few years. I’m convinced that Ashley’s decision to speak to Sky via (probably Sports autocue) prior to the West Ham match was a result of the fantastic campaign which www.ashleyout. com have overseen. I was convinced that his voice sounded exactly like Scooby Doo’s hence we had never heard of it up until then. His rambling and body language were that of a rattled man. If he genuinely (cough) is targeting a top four finish then he has to put his money where his mouth is. Good luck ‘Schteve’. If he accomplishes what he did at ‘Boro then I predict that the ‘McClaren tuft’ will be the most popular hairstyle on Tyneside. tf 137


The secret d iar y of Lee Ryder

David Dunn

age d 44 and a half. 19/03/2015

grabbed a Doctor’s white coat and steffas, stephers, err, hearing thingy to put rund me neck as ah went past a cloak room and put me Well diary, sometimes these so-called false glasses on and pretended to look at the superstar footballers get a bit too big for patients details whilst secretly recording their their expensively sponsored boots, som etimes encou raging craic to the poor cunt in the bed. they get a bad press for being millio naire Carvs started talking first, he gans, “Hey, chin up playboys who smoke cigars lighted by twenty kidda Ah’ve brought Jonas and Colo to see you! pound notes. Sometimes. But today ah had Are you keeping well? You look really good!” the great pleasure of seeing Toon leg ends Our coach politely lied to the poor looking giving something back to the commu nity wretch in the bed. The lad wanly smiled back when ah saw Coach Carvs, El Capo Co lo but looked proper fucked, like. Jonas then piped and Jonas visiting some sick patients at the up, “Hey, amigo, I beat thees cajones cancer, Royal Victoria Infirmary. Abouts ten bells this you can get better too! You must believe!” morning me phone rang and when ah picked Again the skeletal patient smiled and slowly it up it was me old mate, Cockeyed Mala on but painfully lifted his thump up to the Toon’s the other end. “How, Lee!” He said, “Guess who super Spiderman hero. Next up our stupidly ah’ve just seen coming doon the wa rd?” Mala banned Argentinian Capitano decided to lead by was a hospital porter in the RVI and ah first example and said, “You get a bit better and you of all started to think that someone we knew shall play with us on the saint Jaimies peetch.” must have been in a accident when he blurted Ah’m a hard hearted reporter at times but ah out that the new head coach of the cathedral nearly welled up at Colo promising the lad a run on the hill and his two Argie supers tars were out with the team if he got better which was walking past him. Quicker than a Sir Bobby a lovely touch but as ah looked at the kid ah Robson anecdote from Coach Carve r, ah wondered how long he had left was rund there like a shot. Ah follow ed as he looked in a bad way. The the directions Mala gave iz and just lad took off his oxygen mask hoped he hadn’t got the 6 and 9 and whispered, “For shure, I mixed up with his questionable feel like am getting better vision and before long ended by the day, already I can up on ward 69. Right enough breathe without it hurting.” there at the end of the ward was Ah thought he must be an the three NUFC legends doing asylum seeker as he didn’t their bit to bring joy to ordinary sound Geordie to me. Colo punters who were in hospital and then said, “I heard Senor feeling very poorly. Ah’d already Charnally say that you would be like a new signing!” Carvs then www.true-faith.co.uk

CONTENTS

tf 138


jumped in, “Aye, that’s right, Siem, Ah’ve been told by Lee Charnley to let the press know that you’ll be a great lift to the team when you finally get fit again. A new signing is EXACTLY what you’ll be like, bonny lad!” Siem!!! Fuck me! Ah looked at the kid then had a proper look at his hospital papers on the clip board ah was holding. Right enough, there it was at the top, his name, one Siem De Jong, once of Ajax of Amsterdam, now of the Royal Victoria Infirmary’s first eleven! Ah got back to Thomson House HQ and then wrote up a report of Siem saying he was back in training and raring to go and reckoned he’d play again before the season finished! It was fantastic news for the Toon Army and ma loyal readers who, as always, got it straight from their main man, the trinity mirror group regional sports writer of the year, Lee Ryder esq. If it’s about NUFC , Ryders got it covered! Lol. Laters.

23/03/2015

What a day ah had today, diary. Ah got into the Thomson House nerve centre a bit late as the fucking Metees were running late again, (at least that’s what ah telt everyone when ah got in as ah didn’t think they’d be too sympathetic hearing aboot me marathon session ah had yesterday at the club). Anyway, there was cleaners ah’ll ower the shop which was weird as they’re usually well gone by the time ah get there. Ah asks Cams who was walking past what was going on? Was the Queen coming to visit or what? “Better than that , mate. Simon Fox is paying an unexpected visit that one of the advertising girls overheard on a shopping trip to London on the weekend. Everyone’s flapping, Lee!” Wow! Simon Fox! The CEO of Trinity Mirror was trying to pay a sneaky visit, eh? Fucking magic! Why magic , diary? Well while the Thomson House highrark, heirck, err, chiefs were touching cloth about him coming the boy Ryder thinks in different ways to the rest of them and it was time to put my latest book, ‘Networking - Your way to success’ to the test. Ah hung about in the background as Foxy came in the building making small talk to all and sundry. You couldn’t get moved near him as it was a plevara, pleferr, err, horde of arselickers

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surrounding him and they were getting to the same place as Gabby Obertan does when he starts one of his 40 yard runs.......absolutely fucking neewhere, that’s where! Nah, Ah let’s them get on with it, biding me time as ah stood by the work bogs waiting for the moment ah knew was coming. Me networking book said the netty was a great place to network, it was quiet, it was private and you could start networking while washing your hands, so Ryder was onto it quicker than SuperMac chasing after a Terry Hibbitt through-ball. Anyway, as sure as eggs are eggs and Carver is a Geordie, Foxy started to go a funny colour and mentioned he was off ‘To the little boys room.’ as he put it. Ah followed him in after twenty seconds but when ah got in the urinals were empty and ah could see the trap one door shutting! Foxy was having a shite! Ah thought ah cannit hang aboot washing me hands for ten minutes so ah went into trap two pretending to have a shite as ah waited for Foxy to curl one oot. Anyway ah’d barely sat doon when the great man called out to me, “Hi! you alright?” Fucking hell! He was talking already and ah hadn’t even spoken to him yet and he hadn’t even seen me! He must’ve seen me coming in but ah never realised! Obviously ah’d been pointed out to him by the editor or Gibbo and he was wanting a bit craic with one of his star talents. Anyways, ah answered back, “Aye, Simon, ah’m fucking canny, mate.” There was a bit of a pause before he carried on talking. He said, “So what are you up to? Busy?” Ah thought to meself, ‘What does he think ah’m up to?’ but just answered, “Err, y’knaa, Simon, just having a shite like you, CONTENTS

tf 139


mate.” Just then ah realised that there’d been no ‘plop’ noises, no fart noises or owt ike that so ah thought on me feet and made a few ‘NNNnnnnnn, Nnnnnnnnnnn!’ sounds as if ah was straining to get a rock oot me arse, just so’s Foxy wouldn’t get suspish, suspiceio, err, so he wouldn’t think ah was pretending. Again the great man paused a bit and then said, “Darling, can I phone you back, there’s a lunatic sitting in the next toilet trying to talk to me.” Fucking hell! He was talking to their lass on his phone ah’ll along!! Ah thought ah’d fucking blown it now, like, so ah quickly pulled up me strides and rushed oot of trap two, ah quickly turned the tap on, so Foxy could hear water running, quickly pushed the hot air button on the dryer and got the fuck out! Ah lost me networking chance through breaking Ryder’s number one rule, ‘Divvent listen to nee fucker, do it my way or nee way.” It hadn’t let me down so far unlike some fucking poncy book written by a speccy cockney fucking nerd, so ah laughed, shrugged me shoulders and thought that next time it’ll be the Knight Ryder calling the shots! Lol. Laters!

31/03/2015

Well, just when it goes quiet around the roller coaster ride of NUFC then along comes a derby, the financial results and an unexpected interview with a Toon legend. Ah was nipping into Gosforth for a lunch time special chinkees at Poons which Eddie Eats had recommended to me the other day in the Thomson house bait room. It’s not often that the fat cunt turns his nose up at any kind of bait but even he seemed to be drooling at their Hot & Spicy Chicken with Chilli & Sesame Oil with a portion of fried rice and prawn crackers. She-who-must-be-fed, (or Mrs Eats to you and me), had Sweet & Sour King Prawns. Ah was obviously going to ask for mine to have extra chilli on as the Ryder has everything extra hot on account of not being a puff. Anyways, as ah was walking down Gossy High street ah heard a Spanish sounding voice say, “No! It’s NOLberto SOL-ano, not NOR-berto SOR-ano” to a confused looking fan who couldn’t pronounce Nobby’s moniker. Right enough, it was our old trumpet playing Peruvian hero of yesteryear. “How! Nobby!” ah shouted ower the road. “Can ah have a quick chat, mate? It’s Lee! Lee Ryder of the Chronicle! You remember me, mate?” Nobby said aye he did and agreed to have a quick chat,

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ah quickly said ah’d get to the other side of the road but Nobby said ah was already ON the other side of the road before chuckling to himself. Great craic as ever from the Nobmeister. He ended up going into Poons with me but just had a bottle of Tsingtao beer as he’d already had dinner. Ah was halfway through me scran when Nobby said the Toon would have to spend the new profits they’d announced on players as the team was “leetle bit sheet, Senor Ryder”. Ah’d completely missed the news about the profits but Peru’s finest export was filling me in on the details which yet again just showed how vital it was having the right contacts and one of the reasons some of us won journalistic awards and some of us named Cameron, Edwards or Caulkin, err, didn’t, lol. Ah quickly buzzed Cams when ah went forra piss and he confirmed the story and said he was going to do piece on it whilst ah telt him ah’d get the legends take on it as well making up a ‘five players we can buy with the £18M’ write up. Poor Cams would get the boring accountant stuff, ah’d get the Legend/player speculation story which ah knew forra fact me loyal readers would lap up far more than the Maths geek shite Cams was getting stuck with. Fuck me diary, ah was only going forra chinkees yet ah got an unexpected NUFC gold plated

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story handed on a fine China plate! Ah was ganna do a piece on derbies of the past and give Micky Quinn a bell for some quotes but as ah was ahead of the game ah thought ah’d save it for the morra and head off down the club instead forra a few post scran bevvies and a game of Jimmy Juker instead, aye diary, up there for thinking, doon there for dancing! The boy Ryder, keeping one step firmly ahead of the rest! Laters.

03/04/2015

Alreet diary? All the punters who follow this crazy club of ours, the ones with black & white passion coursing through their bloodstreams know that the weekend brings up THE game of the season with our nearest and not so dearest down the road in red & white territory. But it’s just the fans who care not the poncy players and managers riding about in their porsches and ferraris, right? Wrong. Today ah had a bell off Carvs who proposed a bit of mooch, mewtewa, err wanted to help both him and me. Ah gets down to Benton and am lead down the corridor to help build up the derby and get Geordie boy, coach Carvs, some more exposure to get the Toon number one role as it’s not only what my loyal readers want but also helps me out with filling me back page as me and Carvs are fucking cush and ah’ve always got a quote on tap off The man who would be King. Anyways, as ah’m getting closer to his office ah hears a lot of groans and sounds of someone in discomfort. There were lots of heaving and shouting going on as keeping coach ‘Wooders’ Woodman and centre half colossus, ‘Iron’ Mike ‘Willo’ Wlliamson were trying to shoehorn Coach Carvs into some sort of corset. Ah hung back and looked through a crack in the door to see the real

goings on at HQ NUFC when they thought nobody was watching. Willo was straining to zip the corset up while Wooders was forcing Carvs chest down with his puma football booted right foot. Wooders shouted, “Quick Iron man! get it zipped for facksake! his chest is swelling to fackin’ dangerous proportions here, san!” Willo was trying his hardest but was clearly struggling as his hands were daintily moving the zip up at a slow rate. “Howay, Willo, bonny lad, ah divvent think me chest is ganna last much longer, kidda! Hurry up, man Ah’m nearly fucking gone here! Me chest is bursting with that much Geordie pride ah think ah’m ganna bust me gut here!” Carvs said as they finally managed to contain his swollen chest by getting the zip up to one last torturous gasp from Geordie John. ‘Fuck me’, ah thought, look at the sacrifices this man was giving to HIS club. Ah then went in as if ah’d nee idea he was wearing a corset and got a few quotes from the head coach about us matching their determination and getting fucking stuck in. Ah knew forran absolute fact me loyal readers would fucking lap that shit right up, it was just what they wanted to hear after those derby defeats and it was going to be yours truly who brought it to them via the powers of modern media. Until later, Ryder and out!

10/04/2015

Well diary, that was the week that was, eh? Ah was fucking gutted the luck of the Mackems kept on going for FIVE games in a row. Bad, bad times. Ah passed Mark ‘Douggy’ Douglas in the Thomson House nerve centre and ah had a quick deeks at his piece for the day www.true-faith.co.uk

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and he was writing up about a fan protest against spurs which was doing the rounds on the internet, well ah thought, more fool him, ah knaa it’s the future an that but there’s some funny fuckas on there that get a bit too lippy for this former Toon foot soldiers liking, too many funny fuckas thinking they can tek the piss out of us journalists and people of importance in the region. Ah thought Douggy was on a hiding to nothing and chuckled to meself when ah noticed his phone NEVER ever rang with the movers and shakers of NUFC always finding the boy Ryder’s number before anyone else in the North East media circle and ah swear to God, as soon as ah thought that me phone rang, straight away ah knew it was someone from Barrack Road as ah had all me NUFC contacts on the same ringtone! Ah answered it just as Knopfler’s local hero was buzzing out of the speaker, “Trinity Mirror’s number one regional sports journalist, Ryder speaking” Ah says, the voice on the other end crackled with raw emotion, “Lee, man! Ah couldn’t dee it, son, ah couldn’t get the win, wor kid. Ah tried me best, ah talked to the players aboot chinning di canio, ah talked about pride, ah even made them watch ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet’ the one at the end where they go home and the hut gets set on fire, everything, man, ah divvent understand how we lost?!” It was Coach Carvs and he was obviously down in the dumps. Ah answered him back sharpish, “John, don’t worry, man. These things happen, ah’ll come down and get another quick interview off you for the fans.” And another piss easy write for yours truly ah thought as Douggy was writing about internet trolls, ah’d be talking to the main men at HQ Toon. As ah got into SJP and was going to Carvs office ah could see Geordie John on his knees already, fuck me ah thought, howay, John, it’s not that bad but then ah saw an outstretched hand going towards him which John then kissed. It was Charnley’s hand! It was like the scene from ‘The Godfather’! Just then someone noticed me and it was ‘Fairs Cup in his hand’ Bobby Moncur. “Lee! Lee! Just the fella! Did I tell about that balmy night in Budapest? They collapsed like a pack of cards, ‘no gumption’ the Gaffer said. Anyway, John’s a wee bit busy the now, I tell you what though, I’ve just had a chat with Lee Charnley, you wouldna believe the players we’ll getting in the summer, he knows there’s been www.true-faith.co.uk

mistakes and the’re going to rectify it and ‘splash the cash’ yon Charnley said. You can quote me on that!” Fucking champion, ah thought, Not only an ad hoc interview with a NUFC legend, but a 100% gold dust scoop about new signings to lift the spirits of the fans! Ah was on it right away, smiling as ah typed knowing what a boost the news would be to me loyal readers. When ah’d finished John had rang back apollo, oplag, err, said he was sorry he was busy but ah said it was alright as ah had me story ah needed, ah kept a ‘We’ll carry on regardless” piece for the morra off head coach Carvs as it’s been fucking lovely the last couple of days and a quick finish by the morra dinner time writing up a pre-wrote Toon piece means ah could have a game of ‘chip and put’ in the afternoon with Mala doon the coast near St. Marys lighthouse and get the sun on me back which would be canny and ah also need to beat that cockeyed fucker as he might be bongy eyed but he’s shit hot with a club and ah’m fucked if it’s ganna be my turn getting the bevvy’s in, again! Lol. Anyways, until next time, Ryder and out!

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60 SECOND

CHRIS LAws

SEASON that follows on from last season’s 14th placed finish.

Players: Lawrence, McCracken, Hudspeth, Hay, Low, Finlay, Cooper, King, Shepherd, Higgins, GW Wilson, Hall, Hibbert, McDonald, Goodwill, Lowes, Whitson, Hewison, Douglas, Hardy, Veitch, JH Wilson, Spink, Mellor, Hampson, Dixon, Grey. Division: Division 1(11th out of 20 w/37 points Champions: Blackburn Rovers w/51 points) Manager: The Directors Committee continued to select the team. Trainer/Coach: James McPherson carried on in his role of training the side, only managing a mid-table finish

Highest Att: As always, it was the derby that got fans of the black and whites flocking to St. James’ Park this season. 50,000 fans piled through the gates on the Gallowgate to watch a 2-1 win over the enemy from Wearside, that being out third game in three days at the end of December, just following Christmas and Boxing Day. Away from home, the biggest crowd we saw on the road was also the derby, and also a 2-1 NUFC victory, as 40,000 saw good beat evil in September. Lowest Att: Only 12,000 turned up to watch United play Preston on a freezing November day. It was a good day for them though as the

Billt Hibbert Inside Forward

Magpies ran out 2-0 winners. Average Att: The average in the league over 19 home matches was 26,958. That was up again on last year by about 1,500 fans. Chuck in the memorable home cup game against Sheffield United (more on that later) and the figure jumps ever-soslightly to 27,019. Best Win: We never really spanked anyone this term, and in fact we never managed to beat a side by three

goals or more, two was always the best it got in terms of margin of victory for the Magpies. The fact we spoiled Sunderland’s title party in their first home game of the season by beating them 2-1 caused the most satisfaction. Worst Defeat: A shocker, as the Magpies went against their usual cup-grain and were unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup, losing 5-0 at home to Sheffield United (a side who would finish on the same points as us at the end of the season). A second-half horror show caused the collapse, being 0-1 down at HT went to 0-5 at FT. In the league, Preston caused our biggest defeat, going down 1-4 at Deepdale in March.. Preston would go on to be relegated. Something of interest: The Edwardian Masters era finished with a crashing halt this season, following on from last season’s insipid 14th placed finish was another forgettable 11th placed outing. Even the magic of

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Albert Shepherd returning to full action couldn’t inspire United, as he was a pale shadow of his former self. Still managing a more than respectable 10 goals in 16 games, some of those strikes very important in dragging NUFC up to mid-table after being as low as 19th in January. War began looming as the season closed, with training methods at United now including military excercises controlled by the Company Sergeant Major from the local garrison on Barrack Road. Mentioned in dispatches: A double over the Red & Whites is always a welcome bonus to a season, especially when they are reigning Champions, but that’s what we salvaged out of the wreckage of this season. Both 2-1 wins, the first on Wearside as the mackems attempted a title-winning party. Tom Hall scoring on his debut in that one. Tom was a £425 signing from... Sunderland. Get in. On the other side of the coin, the 0-5 game in the cup to Sheffield United was horrific, United going down to 8 men at one stage with no recognised goalkeeper on the pitch. It was United’s record defeat in the competition.

of The Times is halved to one penny.. The first colour feature film, ‘The World, the Flesh and the Devil’ is screened in England this year.. Jack Hearne becomes

the first bowler to take 3000

happening outside of SJP in

wickets in first-class cricket..

the North East at the time of

Regional Interest: This site

WW1 . Click here.

from the BBC selects a fasci-

Chris Laws.

nating insight into what was

Follow @tflawsy1892

War began looming as the season closed, with training methods at United now including military excercises controlled by the Company Sergeant Major from the local garrison on Barrack Road.

National Interest: In the summer of 1914, after Germany invade Belgium, the United Kingdom declares war on the German Empire. World War I is born. Away from that.. The cover price www.true-faith.co.uk

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The French essayist Paul Valery once quipped that politics was, “the art of preventing people becoming involved in affairs which concern them”. That’s pretty spot on in my book. Some people use politics as a prism through which to understand life and events Others avoid or minimise politics in all of its forms. To say or think that you are not affected by politics is a bit like saying that you are not interested in air. There are those that say they do not wish to see politics pervade every aspect of life and pay homage to that post-ironic concept they call “escapism”. Not the dignified, affirming community-binding pursuits in which working people engaged during yesteryear - societies, sports clubs, festivals, music, drama - but the brain-melting cocktail of reality TV, celeb goss media and the banal, infantile anti-information which dominates so much of social media. Little wonder so many of us www.true-faith.co.uk

struggle when an invitation to think comes along. The pages of this fair fanzine often lament the lack of politicisation from many supporters, including their failure to look beyond weekly results. The paradox, of course, is that not having a view and not taking action is the most powerful political gesture of all in that it gives those in positions of power the confidence of an implied mandate to implement their agenda. There is an argument that politics in football is about safe standing, ticket pricing, policing and supporter representation. Some may sneer at these topics as the concerns of the middle class, metropolitan, When Saturday Comes reader all important, but seen as a tad dweebish (unfairly) by some. Then there are those who are drawn to correlations between football and current affairs. From the occasional editorial in a broadsheet about how many nurses you could employ for the price of the latest transfer fee to stories and topics

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which transcend the sport the rape conviction of Ched Evans, players as Save the Children ambassadors, FIFA corruption, TV deals, deaths in Qatar, English chants in Dublin - the list goes on. Yet it is the third domain of politics which so many either do not understand or will dismiss as leftist hyperbole which is hardwired into why so many regard NUFC as the cap badge of our regional identity. Little wonder so many around the world still cling to their football club as a last line of defence in an increasingly atomised society - in some cases the last place where likeminded people of a similar background share, celebrate and mourn common objectives. Huge and justified cynicism about excessive pricing, greed, agents, detached ownership and the ease of the armchair experience has put much of this to the test. Yet NUFC remains the heartbeat for so much of that commonality and shared sense of belonging. Its just that blood and tf 148


while we are invited to feel grateful for a sullied loan shark which charges 5,583% annual interest rate returning SJP to its original name after a billionaire resident of Buckinghamshire changed it to advertise a nationally despised retail outlet soil are part of the story. Politics - that is to say the social, moral and economic principles which order, govern and evolve our society - are integral to that identity. No, I do not mean men wearing rosettes. Nor do I mean BBC Question Time or blogs in The Spectator or signing a petition against fracking. I mean a politics borne out of the lives, working endeavours, values and tribulations of our region. It would be simplistic and a tad twee to suggest that even a cursory understanding of the region’s history will deliver a favourable verdict for leftist ideology, but for those confused souls out there who object to ‘political references’ in all www.true-faith.co.uk

manner of public life, it is time to smell an eight feet high jar of Nescafe. Political struggle is an integral element of our regional sense of self and is one of the main reasons why I follow NUFC. That isolated northern outpost, cradle of the industrial revolution, home and haven to many historical progressives, that beautiful, rugged uniqueness that distinguishes it from all other English cities and regions. Not that the last 20 years have helped in galvanising this identity as the moronic ‘Toon Army’ sobriquet - the epitome of George Orwell’s vexed observation of how the working class are depicted

as “objects of pity or comic relief” if there ever was has stuck, while we are invited to feel grateful for a sullied loan shark which charges 5,583% annual interest rate returning SJP to its original name after a billionaire resident of Buckinghamshire changed it to advertise a nationally despised retail outlet. Ah, capitalism - the only show in town, eh? Even allowing for nostalgic sentimentality, the narrative of this region is one of industry and community while unemployment, poor housing, low wages and job insecurity still permeate the lives of many.The brain-dead Geordie Shore demographic and those seduced by the

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con of aspirational neoliberal politics may not like any outlet which references to The People’s Assembly, Owen Jones, Republic and the TUC but, just so they know, it puts them outside of the story. It also betrays those who fought the active criminalisation of football supporters under Conservative administrations and the parallels with policing industrial disputes (most notably the miners’ strike) which had a long lasting effect on many of our communities. Life is inherently political, not a Disney film, not something to be put in the ‘too hard’ box, not something which is spoiling your leisure interests, not something which is occupying space where a nice quiz would sit on a website. So much is done these days to divert people away from politics, to tell people that it does not matter or to instil fear. If Colin Veitch was alive today and asked to publish an article for true faith, he would almost certainly have written about politics. The alternative? Run along to Subway for your pulled pork sandwich. Did you see Britain’s Got Talent last night? Getting some new hub caps for the Passat on Wednesday. Read that about Cisse’s new wife? Same again - five Carling, please. tf 149


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