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.

By Miles Starforth
Sunday, 11 August, 2019, 18:20
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.

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.

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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.

“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.”