Toon fans! If you want to protest, here’s what you should know

Posted on September 9th, 2013 | 45 Comments |

Revolting Newcastle United fans.
The fans are revolting, but Will they be effective this time?
Newcastle United fans are revolting!

However, writing as someone who used to be an protester and fundraiser myself in the past, not over Newcastle United but over causes such as civil liberties, racism and the like, from what I have read and seen of Newcastle United fans’ planned protests so far, the chances of success don’t seem to be that great at all. This isn’t because the protestors don’t have a case, more that the protagonists don’t seem to be protesters, quite simply, they don’t know how to do it properly. They’re more like brickies and plumbers who are blundering around in a field they don’t understand, a bit like Mike Ashley trying to run a large Premier League football club really!

Please don’t misunderstand, this is not to be unecessarily disparaging at all, it’s just an appeal to realism, a plea for the protestors to consult with people who know what they are doing this time before they go blundering in once again with their size 10s and misspelled bedsheets. In a David and Goliath struggle, you don’t just need all the help you can get, you need the right help to avoid falling at the first few hurdles.

I’ve seen it before in previous outbreaks of unrest which eventually fizzled out into nothing, but what inspred me this time is what I have seen from interviews and meetings so far of fan groups who want to make their views clear once again about Mike Ashley’s maladministration of Newcastle United in the wake of the last transfer window. One example was a local interview with ‘Time for Change’ member Graeme Cansdale, who was at Thursday’s meeting, where he said:

“We want to put the club in the shop window. This is not just about protesting Ashley.

“We want to get the message out there that this is a great club. It should be performing a lot better and should be run responsibly.

“If the people come together on this march, then someone might come forward. You never know.”

To be frank, a quote like that from someone who is supposed to be one of the leaders is not a good start. Make no mistake, protests will NOT impress prospective buyers, it sounds daft and takes away precious credibilty before things have even started in earnest. Though on the other hand, the fact that it is more likely to deter any prospective buyers rather than attract them shouldn’t be used as blackmail to deter fans from protesting about all that Ashley has done to the club we support in his six years of ownership.

So from here on, I have prepared a list of tips from my experiences in the past, though it is by no means extensive and comprehensive, it’s a start!

Preparation and knowing your enemy.

Preparation and knowing your enemy is the key. You need a tight cadre of intelligent and highly committed people to plan every step of the campaign carefully and keep the message under control. This should include at least one who is articulate and can establish good relations with the media.

Organisers should also think about simple, clear and succinct ways of making their point rather than long rambling, incoherent statements. The messages should be consistent and well founded as you are going to have to defend them stick with them. If you make stupid, unfounded and possibly libellous accusations about Mike Ashley or other people at the club which can’t be backed up with facts, you will be made to look stupid by Newcastle United’s PR wing or worse. You must be in control of the message.

The importance of having a good legal representation.

The importance of having a good lawyer can never be underestimated. When I was doing my stuff we had some of the very best in the country like Mike Schwartz and Michael Mansfield QC, and we never would have achieved a fraction of what we did without their sage advice, and we would have got into alot of bother too! You almost certainly wouldn’t get lawyers of that calibre working on a pro bono basis (for free) for a football club dispute but you will need good legal representation and advice nonetheless.

Money is what’s important to Mike Ashley.

Returning to the subject of knowing your enemy, and this is a VERY important point, Mike Ashley is all about money, it’s what he cares about more than anything. Therefore it’s best to hit him in the pocket by boycotting the club, no games, no shirts, no match programmes, no pints, no pies, no black and white “onesies”, no “whey aye man” superhero costumes, no nothing. This should be the centre point of any campaign because that is the one thing which could work with a greedy slug like Ashley.

If you are only going to target individual matches, choose televised ones. I don’t think I have to explain why this would have more impact!


If you really want change, you must understand that it is inevitable that sacrifices will have to be made, if you aren’t willing to make any real sacrifices, then you don’t want it enough and you will probably fail.

Everything is connected.

This is another very important point which has helped enormously with campaigns in the past. It well worth thinking about speaking with and possibly co-operating with others who have an axe to grind. Also, opening a different and unexpected front in the war (and it is a war) by hitting Sports Direct might be something worth thinking about.

Unsurprisingly, Newcastle United fans aren’t the only people who have an axe to grind with the rapacious Ashley. He treats most of his employees like dirt and he is also in the spotlight in the furore over the ‘Zero Hour’ contracts most of his employees have to work under, where they can receive a relative pittance after a good week, and absolutely nothing on a poor one, a practice which often drives employees into the grasp of loan sharks like his friends at Wonga.

One example is an ex Sports Direct employee, Zahera Gabriel-Abraham has raised funds via campaign website ‘38 Degrees‘to make a legal challenge against Sports Direct on their Zero Hour policy.

Finally, there are LOTS of individuals and groups who are campaigning about Newcastle United’s current sponsors, the disgraceful Wonga, which is something else which is worth looking into.

So, for now I’ll leave it there. These are only the rather hastily assembled thoughts of someone who has some experience, and some success of protesting in the past. If you think you have anything to add, please do in the comments section below!


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NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1093 articles on this blog.

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45 Responses

  1. The object is to get Ashley to sell NUFC. First you need a buyer probably Russian,Middle Eastern or American, To take out an ad in a prominent newspaper or magazine would cost a few grand more spent the better. The cost of an ad could easily be raised at the next home match collecting a couple of quid off each fan wanting Ashley out.

  2. The fans can get the club relegated or help keep them in the Prem. a toxic atmosphere at home games, like the Hull City match in September 2008 that started the rot towards a relegation season. Is that a price worth paying? relegation would slash the value of the club and he won’t have the will, or support, to see us through to another promotion.

    The only caveat to this is that the lower value will encourage new buyers but who is to say that they will be any better than Ashley. It could be the next Ambramovich or another asset stripper as in the case of Rangers.

    I think we are stuck between a rock and a hard place with no logical way out.

  3. These protesters claim to represent all the supporters of nufc and speak for them. Well let’s see shall we, if we agree that the only supporters who Ashley cares about are those with a season ticket why do the so called leaders of this movement think they can speak for us without consulting us?
    At no time have I as a season ticket holder and by extension a member of the franchise been approached to see how I feel. I have not been asked to attend and vote on plans that effect the club I have a financial stake in. I have heard about boycotts, and marches Tec. Let’s get real shall we, why should I boycott my team, I suspect most of those who are asking for a boycott do not attend many matches so have little to lose. As for a March all that does is give us negative publicity, like those idiots who had the coffin last season.

    So until you send voting papers out to all season ticket holders and act on a agreed majority vote you are not representing me or those I have attended games with for the last 10+ years.

    Good article by the way, some sense in a senseless protest.

  4. What a complete load if crap! Protesting against Ashley will have 0 effect and only disrupt what harmony is left in the team!!!!!!!!!!!!! At the end of the day it is his train set and he can choose how he plays with it.

    Support the team, cheer the team, let a new potential owner see what fans the club has and not a militant bunch of whingeing idiots

  5. Lets be sensible here… Lets not protest he team during a match day… Why not sit in after a match? Surely Ashley can’t move 48000+ fans?

    Just a though, anyone?

  6. Sounds like the bleeding hearts are out in force on this blog.
    Good job they weren’t around when Hitler was in his pomp. We’d have all surrendered and been goose stepping and eating sauerkraut now.
    “At the end of the day it is his train set and he can choose how he plays with it” Really?
    Not if we arrange to have it taken away from him.

  7. Very interesting. But surely the most important thing is to establish and agree what the protest is for. What is the objective? Is it to persuade.the owner to sell the club, or to replace the manager, or to get rid of the director of football, or possibly all three? Perhaps it’s just to show how unhappy the fans are. The fans need to have formed some sort of consensus about what they want to bring about. “Ashley Out!” Is too simplistic. He will not be pushed out and if/when he leaves he will take with him the money he is owed.

  8. At last some folk are talking sense, as for the bleeding hearts comment, explain this please? We have folk who are not toeing the line and are willing to speak out for what they think and not join in with the noisey few. Which is all it is, its a few who think they can make it uncomfortable for the owner and are willing to make a lot of noise. Let’s see how many take part in the so called fans protest. How many will prove they are season ticket holders and how many will tear up match tickets? If it’s more than 250 I will join your next protest no matter what it is. Though I suspect
    You will get a lot of youngsters who don’t go to the games but want their face on sky sports news.

  9. sikovash says:
    September 9, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    “Sounds like the bleeding hearts are out in force on this blog.
    Good job they weren’t around when Hitler was in his pomp. We’d have all surrendered and been goose stepping and eating sauerkraut now.”

    :lol: I’m usually the one who plays the Hitler card on here.

  10. Protesting against Ashley will make no difference, What can these divvies do differently, In a less hostile environment, Than “KEEGANGATE”?.
    The daft cnuts couldn’t get him out then, And you won’t get him out now!

    There are only two alternatives in my opinion, You either stop going to the matches, Because this “Support The Team, Not The Regime”, Is a load of old s***e!
    If you go to support the team, You are in fact supporting the regime, So that crap is out of the window.
    I’ve said all along fan apathy will drive Ashley out, Just like it did, During the Mckeag era.
    You can already see empty seats appearing, And it will get worse.
    If you are not prepared to stay away, Then keep your mouth shut, And put up with it, Because you deserve it, If you let yourself be exploited!

    Another way to get rid of Ashley is to do something along the line of what Niall Quinn did at Sunderland, He went out and looked for a buyer, To get rid of Bob Murray.
    Fans could approach someone to represent them, And try and look to sell the club, By going abroad, And trying to promote the club, As an institute, The right investor could be involved in, Who is ambitious.
    They need to be able to put an offer on the table to Ashley, Then we will see how much he wants to sell, And none of this five year season ticket stuff either!

    Adolph Hitler killed millions of people, All because the cnut couldn’t paint!
    Typical wannabe Artisan, Took it out on everyone else, Because his chosen path failed!

  11. I call Godwin.

    Actually, I have to say that while I’m not a marching type of protester, I am the boycotting the merchandise type. Ashley gets no money from me, whatsoever now. No purchases at Sports Direct. No club shop. No half time pies/pints, and come next renewal time, no season ticket either. He has had the last penny he’s going to get from me.

  12. These groups are going to end up like the Billy Connolly joke, When he talked about legislation going through Westminster.
    He said it goes in one side as a good idea, Then when it’s in there, They kick it around, Punch it, Mess around with it, And it comes out the other side, As a shadow of it’s former self!

    Like when he talked of the “Dangerous Dogs Act” of the early 1990’s.
    He said, Some were saying cut their testicles off!, Others were saying, Shoot them!
    It went through Parliament, And they sat up all night trying to come to a decision, “Do we kill them?”, “Or Do We Cut Their B***s off?
    When it came out the other side, ” I Know!, We’ll Register Them, At The Local Post Office”!

    Can you see what i’m getting at!

  13. joe hawkins says:
    September 10, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    “There are only two alternatives in my opinion, You either stop going to the matches, Because this “Support The Team, Not The Regime”, Is a load of old s***e!
    If you go to support the team, You are in fact supporting the regime, So that crap is out of the window.
    I’ve said all along fan apathy will drive Ashley out, Just like it did, During the Mckeag era.
    You can already see empty seats appearing, And it will get worse.”

    Of course it’s a load of old shite, Joe, boycotting is the thing that would have an effect. It doesn’t have to be a whole stadium boycotting, just a certain amount would be enough. If Pardew’s football doesn’t improve, attendances will fall anyway and as you suggest, it could be just apathy rather than an conscious “boycoutt” which will take the numbers down.

    “Adolph Hitler killed millions of people, All because the cnut couldn’t paint!”

    It’s because he was upset about the way the First World War ended, Joe, as well as the terms forced on Germany by France, which were awful. He thought that Germany should have kept on fighting but were sold out by (you guessed it) Jews.

    He had a bad dream in the trenches of the First World War which didn’t help either. He thought he was being swallowed up and buried alive by the earth. Waking up with a start, he then proceeded to bolt out of his bunker, which was promptly shelled, killing his comrades. He subsequently took this as a sign that he was being saved by a higher power to be a messiah who would save Germany.

  14. why dont we all go on hunger strike until ashley leaves? surely the thought of 50,000 starving to death would convince him? :)

  15. Good one Worky Thought not knee jerk reaction.As for the “don’t cause trouble brigade”Well you must have what you want so you should be happy.To me it seems like the school bully stealing your dinner money but you don’t want to say anything in case he does something worse.Look at history change is usually brought about by enough people standing up and demanding it.You might not achieve all you want but in this case the loss of money should make him and his muppets think a little longer before their next master plan at the very least.I’m sorry but I can’t remember which plan we are on at the moment. Oh by the way he hasn’t had any of my dinner money.

  16. Worky, The Adolph Hitler thing was an infantile attempt at creating humour!
    I do think his old man was in the First World War, And by all accounts, Was are right old barsteward, Who used to beat him and his mother up.
    I have also heard of a possible incestuous relationship with his mother also!
    After watching a couple of so called profiling experts, Do a T.V programme about him.
    I don’t know if it is true, But i heard he caught the clap from a Jewish prostitute, Whilst at university, And this fuelled his hatred of Jewish people, Along with thinking they had all the libraries and everything else he blamed them for.

  17. Great write-up, worky. One small thing I’d point out is that while you need leaders who can speak and relate and to control the message, you must not invest these responsibilities in any one person, much less a charismatic leader. My experience with protests and organizations that plan them is that’s the quickest way to being co-opted and losing all of your movement’s momentum when one person is rolled.

    Reegs @ 3: I can think of many worse fates than NUFC being owned by the next Abramovich. Now, Glazer…

    Only cutting down the club’s revenues (and usefulness as a giant SD ad) will affect Ashley. Otherwise, we’re stuck with him at least until he claws back all of his loan (he’s recovered 29M so far from what I’ve read) as nobody will pay market value for this club PLUS Ashley’s loan.

    The “finding a buyer thing” sounds like a fool’s errand. I have trouble believing there’s anyone in the world who ticks all of these boxes:

    1. Has the means to buy NUFC
    2. Is willing to buy NUFC
    3. Will run NUFC well
    4. Is not aware of the existence of NUFC

  18. Joe @ 18: ol’ Adolph himself was a WWI vet, was even temporarily blinded by a French gas attack.

    Most of that other stuff is crap. He was just a very bigoted, egocentric and ambitious sociopath.

  19. tunyc, Which war was his father in?, I read somewhere his father was an old soldier.

    Why don’t they get someone to chain themselves to gates W***A.COM erected, Then go on a hunger strike!

  20. ……and having seen some of his work (painting’s)they appeared to be decent, which raises the question, how much would they bring if placed on to-days market ?

  21. Are Newcastle United fans revolting ?
    Only those who have recently purchased the new WONGA inscribed shirt.

  22. Tunyc, did you know (I suspect you do) that during the war, the then “Office of Strategic Services” the predecessor of the CIA on your side of the pond tried to do a psychological report on Hitler. They had him down as an “impotent coprophile” (which is enough to out one off one’s dinner) and having a “possible homosexual streak in him,” or something like that.

    I used to be a keen student of C.G. Jung and he had alot to do with it. It did correctly predict that he’d almost fight to the bitter end, then commit suicide.

    Joe, there are alot of stories about Hitler. Most are are bollocks, a few are true, and some might be true but it’s impossible to say.

  23. Will the proposed new demonstrations be any more successful in their purpose than those of a few years ago ?
    Very much doubt it.
    Why ?
    Too disorganized, lack of efficient leadership, disunity,
    lack of stated goals, one could go on and on….

    On the other hand, it brings to the attention of both our great leader and his minions, the fact that the fans are dissatisfied by the way they are running the club.
    Even though disunited and disorganized.

    Which in turn, if ignored, could spell future trouble in a way that could exert pressure, that which is already being suggested, boycotts, of various club products, that are a sizeable percentage of the clubs profits.

    no shirts, pies, pints, bums in seats, etc.
    Kindda like the present results of Assads ignoring the early dissent in Syria, by first, ignoring it, then by reacting forcefully.
    I think were he given the opportunity to go back to square one, he would certainly react differently.

    Lets see how things turn out.

  24. chuck says:
    September 10, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    “……and having seen some of his work (painting’s)they appeared to be decent”

    Aye Chuckles, “decent” as in mediocre, bland and unexceptional. I used to sift through stuff like his all the time when was an art dealer looking for something good. Churchill was a better painter though he only started at 40.

    Both Hitler’s and Churchill’s paintings come up for auction sometimes so you can find out what they bring. I believe that Churchill’s bring far more than Hitler’s.

  25. Worky

    It has been claimed that Hitler during his service during WW1, was considered to be a good soldier.
    It has also been claimed he may have had a homosexual relationship with a fellow army friend in his regiment.
    It was also claimed by domestic servants in his mountain retreat in Bavaria, that it’s doubtful that he and Eva Braun, had a sexual relationship.
    i’m not making claims here, just repeating information garnered from a tv documentary.
    But Hitler’s sexual life was and still is, considered somewhat controversial.

    As for the claim of he gaining sexual pleasure from playing with feces, is new to me.
    But! each to his own, no pun intended.

  26. chuck says:
    September 10, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    “It has been claimed that Hitler during his service during WW1, was considered to be a good soldier.”

    Aye Chuck, that one is pretty much beyond dispute from all the records, not least because he won two Iron Crosses for bravery.

    Of course though, if there’s going to be myths, legends, half truths and downright lies about anyone, it’s going to be AH!

  27. tunyc says:
    September 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    “Great write-up, worky. One small thing I’d point out is that while you need leaders who can speak and relate and to control the message, you must not invest these responsibilities in any one person, much less a charismatic leader. My experience with protests and organizations that plan them is that’s the quickest way to being co-opted and losing all of your movement’s momentum when one person is rolled.”

    Cheers tunyc, and aye, I agree entirely. I was actually thinking that as I was writing that part of the piece. From what I’ve heard so far though, the groups who are planning on protesting against Ashley would be hard pressed to find one person with the right skills, never mind several.

  28. “almost fight to the bitter end”

    Nice one!

    Joe @ 21: don’t know for sure but likely the wars of German Unification (Franco-Prussian, Austro-Prussian, first and second Schleswig wars and related skirmishing). Also possibly the Italian war of independence.

  29. tunyc says:
    September 10, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    “Joe @ 21: don’t know for sure but likely the wars of German Unification (Franco-Prussian, Austro-Prussian, first and second Schleswig wars and related skirmishing). Also possibly the Italian war of independence.”

    Joe, Hitler’s dad was a Customs Officer and I don’t think he fought in any wars.

    Tunyc gets a gold star for being able to name all those wars!

  30. ha!! – only on here could a debate about Mike Ashley deteriorate into one about Hitlers sex life

    crackin stuff :)

  31. Breaking news: The fat slug is now worth over £3 billion.

    He’s the fourth richest owner in the Premier League behind Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Manchester City (around £20 billion), Arsenal’s part owner Alisher Usmanov (around £12.4 billion) and finally, Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich (around £10.3 billion).

  32. Yes he may in fact be the fourth richest owner in the EPL, not exactly sure.
    But there’s no doubt as to who is the cheapest.

  33. Reckon a live stream will be up for the Harper testimonial later on?

    Won my 1st and 2nd ever accumulators ;last night…drinks are on me.


    Fook You Mike,Joe and Alan you aint invited.

  34. stewpot says:
    September 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    “the MOAC (Mike Ashley Out Campaign) have used Comic Sans for the strapline on their ‘logo’.

    “their credibility lies in tatters.”

    If it’s the one I think you mean, that’s an absolutely shite attempt to rip off of the old Polish “Solidarity” logo from the 80s which was rather good.

  35. The fans on Tyneside are revolting, they are sick and tired of the continual mismanagement of their club and make no mistake, it is their club, the present owner will eventually be gone and for most it can’t come soon enough.
    From the news media, it appears Joe Kinnear is to be the designated goat, apparently Gomis has stated he was asked to take a pay cut after the transfer fee was agreed.
    From media reports during those particular negotiations, where blame was intimated on Gomis’ agent , Lyon, anywhere but the real culprit Asghley, who remains as the final word in every deal.

    It has also been stated that Liverpool are said to continue their interest in HBA (another case of unsettling a player)
    Which in turn suggests we have now to offer him an improved contract.

    Not a peep out of Cabaye, which is probably the best way to deal with the situation, though no doubt some idiot will raise the issue and demand an apology.
    And I don’t want to hear some jerk complain about lack of loyalty to the club.
    It’s a short career and most players react in the same way, in their best interests.

    As far as Gomis is concerned, imo that deal is dead, instead we are going for, surprise ! yeah we are going for cheap, some one season Icelandic wonder in the Dutch league for five million quid.
    Why am I not surprised?

    At present the fans are somewhat placated by the number twelve spot (how the mighty have fallen) by a one goal win over a poor Fulham side, but the fact is we are only tree points better than a bottom position.
    And yes we did look decent against that poor Fulham side and our next opponents Villa have not shaped up well in these early stages, but it’s going to be a tough season. Most sides, apart from ourselves having improved with the extra revenue payments from the league.
    And yeah we may once again buy during the winter window, but I wouldn’t bank on it, depends where we are in the table.
    But what kind of message does only buying half way through the season send to the fans ?
    Well to me it indicates, no ambition, only a fear of relegation.
    Ah well, situation normal, unrest and dissent.

  36. Something like 25% of Newcastle revenue came from matchday revenue last year, this figure will be more than offset by the increased TV money, therefore if the protesters by some magical miracle manage to get 10,000 to boycott games or somehow cause a plague and get 20,000 to boycott it will have little to zero effect on Ashleys purse strings – he’ll only have to get one high wage earner off the books to negate any effect.

    Ashley could in theory play in front of an empty stadium and still earn enough to get his money back and he would probably get extra advertising due to every news channel featuring the empty sports direct stadium constantly each home game

    Boycott is not the answer

  37. worky @ 31: full disclosure-I took a couple classes on German history. They were good classes. My professor in those, Jonathan Sperber, occasionally shows up on educational TV shows about German history and general European military history in the 19th & 20th centuries. He’s quality.

    stevep @ 39: what do you suggest, then? Or do you just shoot down ideas? A constructive vote of no confidence is much more useful.

  38. @tunyc – afraid I have no answers, guess we could cause a riot every home game, this would probably get us relegated due to points deduction, fatty would lose more money then sell players which would in turn get us relegated again, ultimately ending in bankrupting the club, we could then go into administration and fans could buy the club for a pittance whilst offering a penny in the pound to our debtors. Presuming we could get enough fans to raise a million (unlikely) we could appoint an elected chairman, albeit we’d be in League 2 or conference by this stage.
    Then we could rise from the ashes with a fan owned club (although given the opposing views on different toon blogs I’ve no idea how we would get consensus on anything)

  39. Fair enough, steve. I’m not sure anything will work to move AshleyCo out, so I’m not involved in anything but I also won’t pooh-pooh other folks’ ideas. To be honest, I’m resigned to sitting it out until Ashley gets his loan back, making the club saleable.

    Until then, I can only chuckle when folks suggest things like: if things go really wrong we could end up owned by the next Abramovich!

  40. Well well Worky, what a colourful past…. a closet revolutionary eh!

    I’d written a response to your excellent article but lost it!

    Basically, I was suggesting that rather than protest OR hit Ashley in the pocket by boycotting matches and products may not be successful. It’ll not hit Ashley’s pocket but the finances of Newcastle United and he’s shrewd and hard enough to risk the club and his investment by doing nowt and digging in. He’s seen off bigger adversaries than Newcastle United fans’ groups!

    Maybe the vehicle to use is constructive dialogue by appealing to the side of Ashley that wants, needs to be liked – use last night’s magnificent show of Steve Harper’s testimonial to accentuate the positives and let him see just what he could gain by being reflected in the glory of the success of Newcastle United.

    As a by the by and like you, I’ve done my share of putting the world to rights, may I suggest this first volume of an autobiography that paints the picture of Tyneside revolutionaries of the 60s.

  41. lesh says:
    September 12, 2013 at 9:32 am

    “Well well Worky, what a colourful past…. a closet revolutionary eh!”

    On the contrary Lesh. I was quite open about it and on pretty much all campaigns I worked on, it was the other side, including the Government and the Police who were deviating from the law far more than we were.

    In response to your comment, I still think that a boycott will be the only thing which will work with Ashley. Despite all his billions he still cares about every penny. He doesn’t care what fans think and say just so long as they keep spending.

    Having written that, it might just be an apathy over the football being played at SJP rather than a conscious boycott which will drive the numbers down for Ashley.