Football FanCast columnist Tom Jones feels that Mike Ashley has finally gone one step too far in the eyes of Newcastle fans.
The relationship between Newcastle fans and owner Mike Ashley has reached a point that is beyond repair as he continues to disregard the feelings of the fans that turn up in their tens of thousands every week. Nothing that Ashley does now comes as a surprise and the Toon Army will be dreading the next move that he makes. The whole stadium debacle really is the final straw for Newcastle fans, but does Ashley have more horrific plans up his sleeve and is there still worse to come?
Whatever Mike Ashley decides to call St James’ Park, it will always be known as St James’ Park to the Newcastle fans. There were further protests at the home game against Peterborough on Saturday and once again the shine was taken off a comfortable victory and the continuation of their good start in the Championship. But the fans have every right to vent their feeling towards the owner and to be fair Ashley deserves everything that he gets. If he wondered how his latest decision would be received by the fans then surely he is in no doubt now, but will Ashley consider changing his stance on stadium naming rights?
The problem with changing the name of St James’ Park is that it shows a complete disregard for the tradition of the club and shows that Ashley is totally out of touch with the feelings of Newcastle fans. Some fans were considering giving Ashley one final chance and backing him and the club, but then he goes and does this and completely alienates the fans once and for all. The move doesn’t make business sense as Newcastle won’t receive a penny from sponsorship until next season and the name totally stinks, so Ashley is hardly on to a winner. But does the latest move represent the worst decision that Ashley has made during his reign at the club?
That award faces some stiff competition, whether it be hiring Dennis Wise which led to Keegan leaving, or choosing Derek Llambias as Chairman who seems to be a novice when it comes to press statements. But what will come next? Is it possible for Ashley to make a decision that will be even more unpopular than his latest one? I just hope for the fans sake that this latest backlash may finally have got through to him and he might take a back seat for the rest of his tenure. But once again Ashley has created more negative press just as Hughton has brought some stability to the club.
Some people might think that the anger towards Ashley over the stadium naming rights is a fuss about nothing, but the tradition that St James’ Park has is incredibly important for the Toon Army and they don’t want that tradition to be lost. If the fans voted on the issue the name would stay as it is, but as they don’t seem to have a say should the Football League step in? One thing’s for sure, the Newcastle stadium will always be known as St James’ Park to those who matter, the fans. But for them, is this simply the final slap in the face?