Newcastle must address fan anger

Mike Ashley of Sports DirectMike Ashley of Sports Direct
Mike Ashley of Sports Direct
JOHN Carver says Newcastle United MUST act and address fan anger in the summer – as the protests are “hurting” the club AND its long-suffering supporters.

Thousands of fans boycotted last weekend’s game against Tottenham Hotspur in protest at the direction of the relegation-threatened club under owner Mike Ashley.

A crowd of around 40,000, significantly down on the club’s normal attendance, watched Newcastle’s sixth successive defeat.

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More protests are planned for tomorrow’s Premier League home game against Swansea City.

There have been calls for supporters to stand up in the 34th minute – the club had £34m in the bank at the end of the last financial year – and for a “peaceful protest” outside Ashley’s Sports Direct stores in the city.

After the Tottenham game, head coach Carver said the protests had not affected his players.

However, on reflection Carver – who has repeatedly insisted that the club is ready to spend heavily to strengthen a squad ill-equipped for the rigours of the Premier League – felt the reduced crowd did have an impact.

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Asked if he was taken aback by the number of absentees, Carver said: “Yes, I was surprised. I did not think it would be as many people.

“We have to find a way of dealing with it and managing the situation because it can only hurt us – that is the fans and the club.

“We need to find a solution. I don’t know what that is, and I haven’t had talks about it, but if I get asked my opinion then I would give an honest answer.”

On the mood inside St James’s Park, Carver added: “It was strange.

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“This wasn’t a nice situation to be in – it was uncomfortable.

“There was a lot of apprehension around the place.”

Carver is hopeful that the club’s board will address the concerns supporters have about the size of the squad in the summer transfer window so the mood will be entirely different by the time the next season kicks off.

He added: “That would be fantastic. From day one it would be better. That is what we need to do.”