Steve Bruce reveals how he plans to tempt boycotting fans back to Newcastle United

The weather dampened the protests against Mike Ashley at Newcastle United – but thousands of stayaway fans still made their point.
Boycotting fans march to St James's Park.Boycotting fans march to St James's Park.
Boycotting fans march to St James's Park.

Newcastle United announced a crowd of 47,635 for this afternoon’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal at a sodden St James’s Park. The real attendance will have been less given that non-attending season-ticket holders will have been included in that figure.

The club’s first home game last season, by way of comparison, was watched by 51,749.

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A few hundred fans, unhappy at the departure of manager Rafa Benitez and what they feel is years of under-investment, marched from Ashley’s Sports Direct store on Northumberland Street to the ground, where they protested in the rain outside the club shop.

Inside the stadium there were several empty-looking blocks, and unoccupied seats dotted around, when the game kicked off. Yet, to the TV audience at home, the stadium looked almost full.

Bruce – who has seen almost £60million committed on transfers since he took charge – wants to get them back inside St James’s Park.

“Since I’ve been here in the last three and a half weeks, everybody I’ve bumped into has been nothing other than positive,” said Bruce.

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“There’s nothing I can do about people protesting. They earn their hard-earned money, and they’re entitled to protest. Everybody is. The one thing I need to do is work hard on the training ground to give them a team they enjoy watching.

“The effort and endeavour was there for everybody to see. My job is to get the supporters back onside, and enjoying watching their team.”