I don’t support Newcastle but have been reading a fair bit about them recently, partly because of Pardew leaving – and also because of Mike Ashley’s attempts to strengthen his grip on the club formerly known as Glasgow Rangers.
Ashley’s Newcastle are a metaphor for wider austerity Britain. Celebrate mediocrity (8th place as a success) despite having the potential resources to do better (Newcastle have gates of over 50,000 and Ashley is one of the 5 richest men in Britain – although we’ll come to that in a second), sell off public property to private enterprise (the renaming of St James Park to the Sports Direct Arena), treating fans as mindless consumers who should just keep on paying their money and shut up about any demands they have for enjoyment (an attractive, attacking team, a cup run) as that is not the primary reason for the football club to exist. Generating a profit for Mike Ashley is.
Reading the back pages of the newspaper about Newcastle is like reading the front pages about coalition led Britain. Like Newcastle consistently selling their best players we are regularly told that we can’t afford benefits for the disabled, art centres, libraries, refuges for victims of domestic abuse, etc despite the fact that we have the 6th largest total GDP and have no problem affording Trident apparently.
Just as the government continues to sell off public assets like the Royal Mail, the NHS and the East Coast Mainline to their friends and family in the private sector so Mike Ashley treats the history of Newcastle football club as expendable in order to increase advertising opportunities for his business (Sports Direct). The worldwide exposure of the premier league increases brand recognition of Sports Direct on a global level – never mind the history of St. James Park the shareholders of Sports Direct need an increased dividend.
Invest little for maximum profit. Ashley’s Newcastle is pure capitalism that is probably a gold standard for sports business management graduates to emulate. It is also joyless, depressing, elitist, exclusionary and soulless. Just like ConDem Britain.