JOHN Carver says he would NOT boycott Newcastle United’s game against Tottenham Hotspur if he were a season-ticket holder.
And the club’s head coach admits he’s “saddened” by the prospect of thousands of empty seats at St James’s Park tomorrow.
A campaign was launched last week on social media calling on supporters to stay away from the game in protest at the club’s direction under owner Mike Ashley.
A lack of investment in recent years has left Newcastle with a squad ill-equipped for the rigours of a Premier League season.
Boyhood fan Carver, United’s head coach until the end of the season, has repeatedly insisted that the club’s hierarchy is ready to significantly strengthen the playing staff in the summer.
But many fans remain unconvinced.
I would go to the match because I support the team.John Carver
For his part, Carver said: “I would go to the match because I support the team.”
Asked if he accepted that boycotting fans were supporting the club, he added: “I think they do support the team, but they have obviously got their own issues.
“I respect those issues, but I was asked ‘would I go?’, and I’d say yes. I’d go because I support the team.”
Carver says he “respects” those supporters who will chose not to take up their seats.
“Yes, it is (sad), and I never thought I’d see it to be perfectly honest, especially in the North East of England because we love football,” he said. “So obviously something has triggered in their heads to make them not want to come and I respect that.”
While Carver has questioned the reasoning behind the boycott, he is acutely aware of the mood among fans ahead of the final six games of a hugely-disappointing season.
“I’m feeling it as well,” he said. “My family are feeling it – we’re all feeling it – but no one more than me because it’s my job as well and I cannot run away from it.
“I can assure people out there I’m giving it every single minute of my time.”
Carver’s relationship with fans was damaged by the weakened team he fielded in January’s third-round FA Cup tie against Leicester City.
Many fans argued that the teamsheet showed a contempt for the cups, but Carver is adamant that his hands were tied by injuries – and not a boardroom diktat.
He said: “No one wants to win the FA Cup more than me.”