WHAT A BUSINESS
It really wasn’t meant to be like this. As June approached, Newcastle fans were brimful of optimism that the long, drawn-out sale of their club by one universally reviled, despotic, tyrannical owner to another would finally be completed. They would be free to dream of a brave new dawn, a happy future in which Neymar was banging them in for fun up front and they were spending endless hours on the internet angrily pointing out London-based media agendas, typing the words “what about” more often than is humanly necessary and unconvincingly arguing that war crimes, beheadings and human rights abuses aren’t really anything to be concerned about if they are carried out in a way that doesn’t really affect you.
With no sign of the handover being completed, they remain on tenterhooks, the collective mood even more furious than usual as they accuse Newcastle’s hierarchy of a “dereliction of duty” for something that does affect them: the club’s ongoing refusal to loop them in on plans for season tickets and money already spent on them. With the remainder of the current campaign set to be played behind closed doors, card-holders understandably want to know if they’ll be getting refunds for matches they have paid for but will be unable to attend, while the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust also wants season ticket payments for the 2020-21 campaign suspended.
“Without supporters, Newcastle United does not exist,” it wrote. “We have previously contacted Newcastle United to express our concerns at the lack of action to assist its supporters in a time of need during this unprecedented global health and economic crisis. You have called on the fans of Newcastle United for support so often over the years and when we called for you to stand by your supporters, you did nothing.” Unsurprisingly, considering the outright contempt in which Newcastle fans are held by the club’s owner, no reply has yet been forthcoming, despite other top-flight clubs having reassured fans that they will be refunded one way or another for games they won’t get to see.
Newcastle supporters should perhaps be careful what they wish for, as their neighbours have made sure to keep fans well-informed about what will be happening with their season tickets, prompting further anger. The Basket Case club in whose direction other Basket Case clubs tug their forelocks, Sunderland announced they won’t be refunding season ticket holders if the season isn’t cut short and their three remaining home games are played behind closed doors. They will instead offer fans a pass to stream the matches at home, which is much the same as an airline refusing to refund that expensive ticket you paid for a now-cancelled flight to New York, but showing you some video footage of Central Park and the Statue of Liberty instead.
In an astonishing show of contempt, Sunderland have also told fans who renew their season tickets for the next campaign there will be no refunds for behind-closed-doors then either, only the same offer of a streaming pass which at £10 costs considerably less than a ticket. “What about families who have three or four season tickets in the same household? It’s nonsense,” thundered supporters group chief Michael Ganley. Despite claiming to be “in dialogue” with fans, Sunderland have yet to provide any satisfactory answers, but may well suggest each family member watches on a different device to ensure everyone gets maximum bang for their buck.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I mean, it was ridiculous. They were on a different level completely to us. Athletes who played football … I should have paid to get in because I was just a spectator most of the time” – non-league legend Cliff Hercules recalls the day Aylesbury United took on England. It’s well worth a read.
Football Weekly Extra is a Barney Ronay special, while there’s also another Forgotten Story of Football: part one of Abraham Klein, “the master of the whistle”.
“Re: Portuguese memory lane (yesterday’s Fiver). The best has to be Charlton’s signing of Jorge Costa, leading to the immortal back four of Young, Fish, Costa, Fortune (Luke, Mark and Jonathan)” – Peter Reader.
“Given its history, I’m afraid we are going to need a bit more from the FA than, ‘a commonsense approach’ vis-a-vis players taking a knee in support of other human beings (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). Is it planning on ignoring them? Placing the miscreant on a naughty step? Or a forced relocation to Milton Keynes?” – Alex Folkes.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Tottenham have borrowed £175m from the Bank of England to help them through the next year or so, after the financial destruction of the Covid-19 crisis.
The latest Premier League restart meeting has taken place, with the decision to have five subs and nine on each bench among those to be ratified.
Another triumph! Schalke have apologised after asking fans who had bought tickets to matches they could not attend due to the coronavirus pandemic to explain why they wanted refunds. “Why do you need the money now? Elaborate on your case of hardship and if possible submit respective documentation,” read the letter. “[We] used impersonal and not very sensitive expressions,” sniffed the club on Thursday. “For that the club and employees of the service centre would like to apologise to all fans. We could and should have expressed it better.”
Jadon Sancho and five Dortmund teammates will escape action after riling the club by getting their hair cut and taking photos without face masks. “He should not have done it,” sniffed sports director Michael Zorc. “We were all young once, 18, 19, 20.”
Shane Long is the proud owner of a new two-year contract at Southampton. “I love the way the club is run,” cheered the 33-year-old, unsurprisingly.
Lyle Taylor says his dream of playing at the highest level he can is the reason why he won’t risk any potential knack and return to action with Charlton. “I’ve sat in my living room staring at a blank TV screen for hours,” he sighed. “I’ve not eaten or slept properly. I’ve been up till five in the morning. It’s been very very difficult … I might be remembered as whatever – money-grabbing, a letdown. But I’d like to think, at some point, people will think: we don’t like it but we understand why he has done it.’”
Pope’s Newc O’Rangers suit Stewart Robertson isn’t ruling out “small crowds” being present when Scottish fitba kicks off again in August [leave it – Shortbread McFiver].
And former bongo mag model Anamaria Prodan-Reghecampf is the new owner of Romanian top-flight club AFC Hermannstadt.
STILL WANT MORE?
Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich gets his chat on with Jacob Steinberg.
Michael Butler’s favourite game involves rota mismanagement. Wait, come back.
Revisiting Robin van Persie’s ridiculous 2012-13 season for Manchester United.
Shaun Walker on football’s social distance-flouting return in Hungary.
An oral history of USA! USA!! USA!!! marching to the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals.
Quiz time: when Ajax won Big Cup in 1995.
The brutal training of Jock Wallace features in this week’s Classic YouTube.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!