FED-up Newcastle United fans are planning to vote with their feet by boycotting the side’s next home fixture in protest at Mike Ashley’s controversial regime.
A social media campaign is calling on supporters to stay away from the Magpies’ Premier League meeting with Tottenham Hotspur next Sunday.
But is an empty seat just an empty gesture, or can supporters help force a change at the top by depriving football’s money men of the cash they usually spend on tickets, pies, beer and programmes?
Football fans in King Street, South Shields, have given the plan their backing, though they feel that blame for the St James’s Park outfit’s struggles doesn’t lie solely with the club’s owner.
Newcastle fan William Bain, 68, of Hebburn, says fans would be right to boycott the match.
He said: “I would back the protest.
“Ashley is only there for himself. He doesn’t think about what’s best for the club.
“The performance in the Sunderland game was just the final straw.”
Antony Bilton, 55, a security guard, of Hebburn, says the club needs extra investment – and for Mr Ashley to sell up.
He said: “We need more investment in the team, and Ashley needs to be out.
“The Sunderland performance was very poor.
“I don’t know if a protest will work, though. We have had it before, with everyone shouting ‘Ashley out’.
“We need a rich owner, like a sheik, to come in and invest.”
Liam Tyrie, of South Shields, believes another relegation might be the wake-up call the Sports Direct boss needs.
The 26-year-old Newcastle fan said: “I think the boycott is a really good idea. It will show the ownership that something really needs to be done.
“The club is just drifting at the moment. We need to teach him a lesson.”
Another Magpie, Kevin Blacklock, says change is needed to lift the North-East giants out of their slumber. The 44-year-old, of South Shields, said: “The protest is a good idea. Something needs to be done as Newcastle are so out of sorts.
“We need to send a message that the club needs more investment.
“We need to spend as I would hate to see us relegated.”
George Stewart is a Sunderland fan but has sympathies for the plight of his rival supporters.
The 73-year-old, of Whitburn, said: “You can understand them being annoyed.
“They are spending £30 or £40 to go to watch the game.
“When I last went to a game at Roker Park, the charge was half a crown.
“But you can’t just blame the manager or the owner. The players are not doing their jobs.
“If anyone else did their job as badly, they would be sacked.”
South Shields shopper Gary Miller, 49, empathises with Newcastle fans as he is a supporter of Glasgow Rangers, and Mr Ashley is a shareholder at the Scottish club.
He said: “We are having the same issues with Ashley too. We don’t want him near our club.
“I agree with the boycott. I have done the same myself at the last three Rangers games.”