It seems that the boycott was more successful than the official figures released by Ashley’s minions would suggest. Local journalists from NCJ have made some sweeping statements about leader of the protest, if a protest needs leaders. The range of opinion could be noted if those local journalists did their homework. 

This is one site among many. The issues are hotly contested, even among ourselves. Without wishing to personalise, the opinion expressed here is just that, a solitary opinion, which has been expressed directly to the club, on occasions in conjunction with other sites whose representatives have had alternative views. 

Why did those of us at toontoon.co.uk protest? Quite simply, we want a club that will compete, not least for cups which our parents and grandparents saw Newcastle United win in the 1950s. We have seen a club that was, at times, everyone’s second favourite, with attacking football and investment in quality players. At the end of the day, ours is the club that retains the third highest live attendance in the premier League. 

Some groups want Ashley out totally. Here, the consensus is slightly different. We want the best for the ling term future of the club, whether Ashley stays or goes. It could be argued that we have a broadly pinko-liberal stance, so be it. 

We had a player in Joey Barton. His background was perhaps not the most savoury. Representatives from toontoon.co.uk were contacted by Radio, incidentally when queuing for a space in Barnsley hospital car park. He has just been sent off against Liverpool, meaning that he was not available for the rest of the relegation campaign. 

Going against the long held principle of rehabilitation, we called for Joey’s head. 

Barton has become an example, a great example. He was a cornerstone of the promotion push. He performed consistently back in the Premier League. His and Nolan’s leadership was exemplary in the Liverpool match following Hughton’s sacking. Both were leaders in the 4-4 comeback against Arsenal. Joey proves himself to be an honest footballer, albeit with disciplinary lapses. He proved us wrong. 

Barton’s career since has had some notable moments. He excelled in the South of France. He has appeared on BBC’s Question Time. Despite making a huge sexist faux pas, he distinguished himself with an astounding humility, admitting his mistake with dignity beyond any other panellist to have appeared on that programme. 

Ashley often seems to be beyond redemption but he is in the driving seat to redeem himself. He owns Newcastle United. He has made some unpopular decisions. He has also seen his investment return significant gains. There may not be a potential buyer for the club but he has it in his hands and his wealth to make Newcastle United a club to be proud of, both for himself and the club’s support. 

Let’s be clear. As long as he does not compromise, Ashley deserves the vitriol reserved for him by those who have supported the interests of the club for generations longer than he has. If he does compromise, redemption is never too late. 

So what are the problems at the club? 

The driving force for anyone who supports Newcastle United is what happens on the pitch. We can always look at the good times, such as 5 wins on the bounce plus a League cup win at Manchester City. We can even look at the 5th place, one of only 2 top finishes during the Ashley years. Currently, we are in a run of at least 6 defeats on the bounce, the second time in around a year. 

Newcastle supporters have, in living memory, valued effort. At times we have also had entertainment, even relative success, all of which are applauded. We remain among the top clubs for Champions League pedigree. We recognise limitations but are a sporting bunch, exemplified on Boxing Day 1986 when we gave a standing ovation to an Everton side which swept us away en route to their winning the league. 

We have had bad times. In the dark days, 7,000 of us or so urged on a team lacking talent, if not industry, against Wrexham on blizzardy windswept nights. Honest triers like Bobby Shinton had our backing. 

What we see now is the club with the highest transfer surplus in the Premier League. We have perhaps the cheapest manager. Latest accounts show we have perhaps the cheapest directors. We have an owner whose retail operations shout “cheap”. Everything about the club, apart from the stands built before Ashley arrived, smacks of cheap, low quality and frankly, tatty. It may make money but just as the misleading “everything must go” sales in his retail arm, nothing shouts about long term sustainability. 

As a beacon for the local community, we also perceive deterioration in the ethical stance of the club. For a city where the club has the highest profile of any activity, we have the most odious shirt sponsors in the Premier League. One of the leading retailers in the city has staff on zero hours contracts. The latest accounts show a paltry 0.03% of turnover given to charity. 

Newcastle United remains the 3rd best supported club in the land. We remain among the top 20 richest clubs in Europe, despite a lack of investment. Even so, the latest accounts show that Ashley is not a very good businessman, turning an operating profit of a mere £4.7m on a turnover of nearly £130m, this after 8 years of ownership. With an ethical and diligent approach in providing quality, things could be so much better for him, as well as us. 

Whether he wishes to turn a profit from NUFC as a going concern or make a capital gain from a club with potential, Ashley has to get the infrastructure right. He has to show the club is ambitious to compete at the level its revenue and support demand. 

Whether we want Ashley out or we want a club to be proud of, whoever owns it, things have to change. Mediocre results from mediocre players with a mediocre manager is a recipe, frankly, for mediocrity. Yes, Sir Bobby thrived with a defence that comprised Dabizas and O’Brien, even Bramble and Carr. A little bit of quality at some level, in this case management, went a long way. 

The boycott says we want change. We want quality. We may disagree about who should still be in charge after reform of the club but it is in Ashley’s hands to provide it. 

Ashley would be well advised to spend some time at the foot of the monument at the top of Grey Street and reflect. The Reform Act was a stepping stone to democracy, it was a stepping stone to the people having a say and to the industrial and commercial growth of the United Kingdom. When the people have their say they will be behind you and make you great, as supporters have done with Newcastle United in the past.
 
A message was delivered on Sunday. We can be great under the right leadership and management. If reform and rehabilitation is beyond the wit of Ashley, then get out and let someone else have a go where you have proved yourself to be out of your depth.