Magpie Group open public meeting audio 03/10/18

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Cal
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Magpie Group open public meeting audio 03/10/18

Post by Cal » Fri Oct 05, 2018 4:36 pm


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TJR
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Re: Magpie Group open public meeting audio 03/10/18

Post by TJR » Fri Oct 05, 2018 6:46 pm

I'll give that a listen later on. Should be intresting, if I was still living in Newcastle I would have went.

This from Caulkin is a good read. Summarises the meeting and also discusses the King Kev talk in and the eventful meal.
George Caulkin wrote:You have never known true love until you have seen Kevin Keegan take to a stage on Tyneside. It was a capacity attendance in the big hall of the Sage, Gateshead — a football crowd in a music venue — and it rose in unison when Newcastle United’s pied piper stepped from the wings to promote his autobiography. Cheers echoed, tears streamed and Keegan blew out his cheeks in wonder. It felt good to be home, he said.

For 90 minutes or so, the man who enraptured Newcastle by coming to play for them and then did it again from the dugout, lifting the club from the doldrums of the second tier to challenge at the top of the Premier League, trotted through his life. He fielded questions. His best game as manager? “Well, we had a few, didn’t we?” he said. Pause. “I quite liked beating Manchester United 5-0.” The ovation is still rippling down the river.

Over the course of this week, Newcastle’s past, present and future have coalesced in a jumble of adoration and anger. Tomorrow, the team travel to Old Trafford for a game defined by weary desperation: Newcastle have yet to win this season; their opponents are labouring under José Mourinho. Both United, both untied. The days of Keegan’s tussle with Sir Alex Ferguson, that glorious, furious football, are distant.

Twenty-four hours after Keegan’s revival meeting, a few hundred people were sitting in the Labour Club, in Gallowgate’s shadow, to discuss the notion of protest, to mull over the meaning of better. The Magpie Group is a coalition of fans, drawn together by frustration at Mike Ashley’s 11 corrosive years at Newcastle. They were addressed by two local MPs, Chi Onwurah and Ian Mearns, as well as Kevin Miles of the Football Supporters’ Federation.

At the same time, Ashley was eating spag bol and downing a couple of pints at the Rialto restaurant in Ponteland, breaking breadsticks with Rafa Benítez (risotto marinara) and Newcastle’s first-team squad. Tension bubbles around the club and the grand plan of Lee Charnley, the managing director (who paid the £2,500 bill), is to get Ashley more engaged, more involved, to build bridges with Benítez.

The context is convoluted. When Benítez, a Champions League winner, was appointed in 2016, he spoke of stature, history. Unlike Keegan, he is a manager of the head, not the heart, but both represent hope. He, too, took Newcastle up from the Sky Bet Championship and then led them to tenth last season, but he has felt undermined in successive transfer windows.

Keegan knows what it is like to work under Ashley, his second, brief spell as manager followed by an arbitration case in which Newcastle were condemned for “repeatedly and intentionally misleading the press, public and the fans”. The fear is that Benítez is in the throes of another sapping farewell. He is in the final year of his contract and has rebuffed offers of an extension. Fans still sing his name.

Ashley’s motivations have always been obtuse, but the suggestion that things might lurch towards sustainable improvement is more difficult to swallow than happy-hour pasta. After months of absenteeism, he has watched Newcastle’s past two matches (and is on the guest list for Old Trafford), but the retailer did not talk to Benítez after either of them; no hello nor hard luck. His behaviour is reliably unconventional.

At Rialto, he sat close to Benítez, but little of substance was discussed; vague talk about Newcastle’s academy, but nothing about transfers or contracts. Avoid relegation and he would take them all on holiday, he said, a dubious incentive for millionaires. And his claim that the club would not be sold this season? In the past six months, his allies have briefed that the price has gone up to £400 million and down to £300 million. “Is he really a true seller?” one would-be buyer asked.

Newcastle have been here before. Alan Pardew and Steve McClaren both thought the key to unlocking the club’s potential was to get Ashley interested, but he has always reverted to type. At the end of last season, he said that “every penny” generated by the club would be made available to Benítez, but the club made a substantial profit over the summer and now they are groping for goals and momentum.

For some — for many — it is far too late; Ashley deserves no third or fourth chances. “It’s very clear that you want Mike Ashley out,” Keegan said at the Sage. “Your patience has been fantastic. He will go one day. He can’t last for ever.

“Just keep doing what you are doing, which is supporting your club. Because if that club goes down again because there is no support there, it could dive.”

At the Labour Club, Mearns described Newcastle as “unique” because where else would a 50,000 crowd still support a team without a domestic trophy since 1955? They are a big club, but could be “so much bigger”. And this is the point. They are in the Premier League but dead from the neck down, not striving for anything aside from existence. Benítez will not stay for that.

St James’ Park perches in Onwurah’s Newcastle Central constituency. Like Mearns, she is a fan but stopped going to games when the team were sponsored by a payday lender. She has invited Ashley for tea in the Commons, but was turned down by Charnley, who insisted that “all future correspondence be directed to me”. In July, she introduced a petition to parliament about Ashley’s lack of investment in “players, training facilities and community engagement”.

Football is important — to her, her constituents and the lifeblood of Newcastle. She will continue to scrutinise, she told the Magpie Group. “Ashley is a very stubborn man,” she said.

“Maybe this campaign will make him more entrenched and stubborn.” But the alternative is to do nothing. “I’ve spent the last five years not pissing him off and it’s got us nowhere,” she said. “I don’t see how pissing him off can be worse.”

Numbers have been growing at demonstrations and meetings, but everyone understands this is an attritional situation; Newcastle are struggling on the pitch and saviours are thin on the ground. Removing Ashley “won’t be an easy job”, Mearns said, although these people are dedicated, and when news broke that Ashley was in Ponteland, a few drove with their banners to the restaurant and waited outside.

At 10.20pm on Wednesday, with three police cars lurking, Ashley ducked into a people carrier, smiling at the discordant chanting of “Where’s the money gone?” and, as the vehicle moved away, he was caught on camera with two fingers raised and spread around his ear. It was not the V of a PR victory, although Ashley last night denied that the gesture was intentionally offensive. “To suggest otherwise is both inaccurate and irresponsible,” he added. The footage is available online.

If Keegan at the Sage had offered a bittersweet reminder about the club that Newcastle can be, here was the loveless truth about where they are. In 1996, as Ferguson’s team nipped at his heels, Keegan had said that finishing second would “mean nothing” but he was wrong. Second meant cherished memories, power, beauty, joy, anguish and everything in between. Everything compared with this.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/7717 ... 41e732e46f

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