Steve Bruce addresses protests as Newcastle United fans reveal boycott plans

Steve Bruce has given a message to Newcastle United fans – as supporters step up plans for a boycott.

Protest banners at St James's Park last season.
Protest banners at St James's Park last season.

They are protesting against owner Mike Ashley and what they see as “12 years of neglect and disrespect of our football club”.

The departure of Rafa Benitez last month when his contract expired angered many fans.

Steve Bruce.

Bruce succeeded Benitez at the club last week, and the 58-year-old, a boyhood United fan, has appealed to supporters to get behind him.

Asked what he wanted to say to those planning to stay away, Bruce said: “My message would be ‘yes, I’m no Rafa Benitez, but just give me a chance, and see how we get on’. I’ll always be judged on results, but I’ll do my utmost to try and win them round. I understand that I won’t be, for the vast majority, their cup of tea.”

Benitez’s name was sung at St James’s Park during his three-year tenure.

Bruce doesn’t expect his name to be sung at St James’s Park, though he is hopeful he can win over fans.

“Maybe one day, although that’s not so important to me,” said Bruce. “What’s important is them getting behind the team like they’ve always done. I think that’ll never change. And maybe, if they sing my name one day, that’ll be a sign that we’ve done OK.”

Meanwhile, the #SupportOurToon network, a collective of nine supporter groups, has issued a statement on its plans.

It read: “Many supporters feel they can no longer return to St James’s Park whilst Mike Ashley remains the custodian.

“With many choosing to not renew their season-tickets, and not attend games, it has come to light that local establishments could be affected by such actions. Subsequently, fan groups have joined together to link in with the city’s bars, pubs and restaurants in an attempt to #SupportOurToon.

“This campaign will consist of local establishments providing their support to either the cause by advertising the boycotts and/or by providing matchday happy-hour deals to entice fans away from St James’s Park.”