The Media vs The Magpies

By The Way - Weekly Columns


If ITV were to bring back Family Fortunes again and asked 100 people to describe a Newcastle United fan, I'm sure words like "deluded", "impatient" and "over-expectant" would feature rather highly on the board. I don't know many, if any, fans of our club who are genuinely like this but large sections of the country seems to believe this is what your average NUFC fan is like. I hold the media's coverage and attitude towards our club nearly entirely responsible for this attitude. For a reason I'm still not quite sure of, the national broadcast and print media seem to really enjoy giving everyone connected to our club a real good verbal kicking. If it's not criticising our fanbase for wanting to get rid of Alan Pardew or choosing a one-time Champions League winning manager in Rafa Benitez rather than a one-time Championship winner Nigel Pearson then it's calling our tactics against multi-million-pound spending, all-conquering Man City an "embarrassment to the Premier League". It seems that anything we do as a club is far and away the worst possible thing that could be done. The list of pundits and (so called) "experts" that take part in this tongue lashing against our club seems endless. Gary Neville, Graeme Souness, Jamie Carragher, Niall Quinn, Paul Merson, Phil Thomson, Charlie Nicholas, Tony Cottee, Alan Smith, Jason Cundy, Patrick Barclay, Adrian Durham, Richard Keys are all guilty of writing or speaking about Newcastle United in unglorifying means - and that's just this season. Why do they never praise our fanbase for sticking with the club through thick and thin, including an average attendance in the Championship of over 51,000? Why do they not commend Rafa for giving youth a try with our club having the lowest average age of our starting XI in the league this season? Why will they focus on our defensive tactics against Man City but not pick fault at Sam Allardyce's Everton side having 4 shots on target in their last 5 games? I reckon it's a combination of the distance between the media hub of the capital and our location tucked away up in the North East, the strange belief that we're a "big club" that isn't indeed a "big club" and, probably the biggest reason, that winding up the Geordie nation is something they get a kick out of. We're, to paraphrase Alex Ferguson, just "a wee, poor and stupid club up north" that won't ever kick up enough of a fuss to make a difference. We seem to be a real inconvenience to the Fleet Street establishment who would gladly see us in a similar position to the club down the road at the foot of the second tier. The telly companies probably share a similar belief as their treatment of us recently has shown. So far this season we've already had matches away to Swansea, Southampton and Brighton moved to 4pm kick-offs on a Sunday, a Monday night trip to Burnley rearranged and a 12.30pm game at Chelsea hastily switched for the benefit of the tv audiences. Last week the FA Cup tie at either Norwich or Chelsea was chosen for a 1.30pm kickoff, just 7 days before a tv trip to Crystal Palace. Of the 11 televised games we've had this season, 7 of those have been away matches. The treatment that Sky and BT give our fans is nothing short of a disgrace. However, with our fanbase being so damn loyal to the cause, they still turn out in their droves. The only way this nonsense will end will be to have an empty away end on tv with a multi-published open-letter to the aforementioned tv companies explaining our decision. I fear that will be as likely to happen in the near future as Mike Ashley opening up his chequebook this window to sign a much-needed goalkeeper or striker. Whether a takeover of the club will change the direction of the club is still to be decided but I'd hope that the media will not drive an agenda of 'the grass might not be greener on the other side' once Ashley finally decides to pack his bags. If they have any journalistic integrity left, they will hold him to account personally as to why we have gone from consistently playing in Europe to scraping for survival at the bottom of the Premier League. In these past few months when Rafa, the players at his disposal and our fanbase has taken all the negativity in the press, Ashley seems to have gotten off largely scot-free. You barely hear his name mentioned when Neville, Merson or Durham is giving their latest bashing to the Toon Army. Our fans know who the real cancer within the club is, but those in the national media do not give him anywhere near enough condemnation. The negativity surrounding our club in the media is something that is really difficult for us to change as it's largely out of our control. It's up to us to challenge these writers and presenters whenever possible and pick them up on their hypocrisies. Only by doing this will we amend the thoughts and feeling of a large number of people throughout the country from "deluded Geordies" to the "smart, intelligent fans" that we know we have in our ranks.

Mel - @MissMelanie_H

I agree with your comments but surely the same could be said about any club and the media. The media has to have something to write about so tends to focus on the negative rather than the positive. It gives them something to comment on whereas good news tends to be ignored in all aspects of life.

Anthony Hart

I'd say the TV companies picking you would suggest they'd prefer you in the top flight. Some horrendous scheduling though

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