Forget Floyd Mayweather! It’s time for a fans takeover at Newcastle United

Could Mike Ashley sell Newcastle to Floyd Mayweather?
Could Mike Ashley sell Newcastle to Floyd Mayweather?

Until a few weeks ago, Mike Ashley was the undisputed worst club owner in English football. Now, some may claim that David Gold and David Sullivan have claimed that unofficial accolade as West Ham slide towards the Championship amid pitch invasion and fan protests, but this sort of thing has been commonplace at Newcastle United for years. Ashley has them beaten on longevity.

The Sports Direct tycoon has overseen one of the most fraught periods in history of any club ever. Ashley has been Newcastle owner for nearly 11 years and in that time the once proud Magpies have been robbed of their dignity, becoming the most maligned figure in the club’s long history. The hope was that these days would soon come to an end, though.

Ashley publicly put Newcastle United up for sale in October, admitting that he regrets buying the club in the first place. Businesswoman Amanda Stavely made a number of bids for the Magpies towards the end of the year, but failed to meet Ashley’s £350 million asking price. Now, Floyd Mayweather is the latest prospective buyer reported to be circling St James’ Park.

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Yes, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, the boxing legend. The same guy who posts pictures of his lavish lifestyle on Instagram, the same guy who carries wads of cash as hang luggage on private jets. As far as it is know, Mayweather knows very little about football as a sport, let alone how to run a football club, especially one of Newcastle United’s size.

“You better believe if I were to invest in Newcastle I would be back partying there often,” he said when asked about a potential offer earlier this week. His interest in Newcastle seems to be based on the city’s “party” scene, adding that he could help bring Cristiano Ronaldo to the North-East. “[He] has been a long-time supporter and buddy of mine, so I might even be able to get him to finish his career off at Newcastle,” said Mayweather, without a hint of jest.

This is exactly the opposite of what Newcastle United needs in a new owner. The club has become a circus over the past decade and with Mayweather in charge that circus would only continue. Newcastle, after over a decade of turbulence, needs stability. More so, they need an owner who understands the club and its fanbase.

With no obvious candidate, the time has come for the fans to back control themselves. Newcastle United’s supporters must mobilise to put together a collective offer for the club they love. Fan ownership models have been successfully adopted at clubs up and down the country and now the same must be attempted at St James’ Park.

Newcastle United boasts one of the largest fanbases in English football, demonstrated by the size of their home crowds, even in times of trouble. Under Ashley’s charge, that fanbase has grown detached, disenfranchised, but the fervour has remainder. It’s time for that to be harnessed in order to secure the future of the club.

Of course, there would be a number of obstacles to such a takeover. While fan ownership has given smaller clubs, like Portsmouth, AFC Wimbledon, FC United of Manchester and Motherwell in Scotland, a stable footing, it hasn’t yet been attempted in the Premier League. It would be extremely difficult to raise the £350 million required to buy the club from Ashley without some sort of benefactor.

But the size of the club might provide Newcastle with an even greater foundation for a fan ownership model. They could set a precedent for the future of club ownership in a wider sense. They could provide the litmus test, and theoretically there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t succeed. It works for Barcelona, so why couldn’t it work for Newcastle United?

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The Newcastle United Supporters Trust is already one of the most active fan groups in the country, and so the infrastructure is in place for a mobilisation. Newcastle and their long suffering fans deserve better than what they have been served up for the past 11 years. They deserve to be in control of their own fate for once. Newcastle United is the club of the city and now it should be the club of its fans too.