Newcastle United fans issue new statement after thousands boycott Arsenal game

Supporters have given a message to Mike Ashley after thousands boycotted Newcastle United’s season-opener against Arsenal.

By Miles Starforth
Monday, 12 August, 2019, 11:05

The attendance for yesterday’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal at St James’s Park was significantly down on the gate for the corresponding fixture a year ago.

Fans, unhappy with the departure of Rafa Benitez this summer, had organised a boycott in protest against owner Ashley.

A statement read: “We would like to say thank you to everyone that backed the boycott of today’s match and all of those fans who have expressed support and contributed to the demonstrations, organised by our collective of 10 supporter groups.

“The action taken by the groups in our collective was the first demonstration in a new supporter-led campaign with the objective of forcing Mike Ashley to find a genuine and ambitious buyer for Newcastle United.

“The official attendance at St James’s Park was 47,635. This figure includes current season ticket holders, who may or may not have been at the game.

“This represents an attendance of over 4,000 down on the first home league match at St James’s Park in the last two seasons.

“A Newcastle United Supporters Trust survey last week found that 67% of season ticket holders surveyed supported today’s boycott.

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Protesting fans march to St James's Park.

“We believe that thousands of season ticket holders chose to boycott, meaning the attendance was probably closer to 45,000.

“Despite the wet weather, around 300 supporters joined us in marching from Newcastle city centre to St James’s Park stadium, and we are extremely grateful for these fans’ support.

“Naturally, we were hopeful of further numbers, and are aware of the pull of a new season, but we are steadfast in our belief that any form of protest needs to be ambitious and assertive.

“Our fight against Mike Ashley isn’t going to be short and it isn’t going to be easy. Between the groups in our collective, we are committed to a long-term campaign which will not solely rely on fans boycotting games.

Empty seats at St James's Park.

“Our message to Mike Ashley remains the same: We are not going away. This will not blow over.”