People say that communication is key, in work life, in relationships, with family or friends, that is of course unless you are Newcastle United. Since the final game of the season, the club have taken a stance of not informing anyone on what is going on at the club.
This summer more than any other, we as fans need answers. We are going into the new season, and pre-season without knowing who will be in charge, whether that is at boardroom level or as manager.
We are growing ever closer to the fateful date when Rafa’s contract runs out, and as is the case with every transfer window, talk of a takeover is rife. But when the club should be keeping us abreast of what is happening there is a deafly silence from those within the club.
There seems to be the starts of an all out war between club and fanbase starting on Tyneside, with many of the fanbase losing patience with the club as a whole, which has taken full effect on social media. On Tuesday 11th June, the club tweeted about it being the 50th anniversary of the Toon winning the Fairs Cup, and instead of joining in the celebration, as possibly the club had hoped, fans responded to each tweet (including myself) with a two worded answer…’No Comment’. This happened that frequently that #nocomment was trending nationwide by Tuesday afternoon.
With everything that is going on with the club this summer, understandably the media, both local and national, are reaching out to the club to get their version of events, but it feels like they are being met with the Fort Knox of information, forcing them to report only one side of the story, or even, to the annoyance of many fans, what they believe to be true or speculation, as they are not able to corroborate any of the rumours coming out about our club.
I may have to play Devil’s Advocate a little bit here, and try and come up with reasons why the club aren’t communicating with anyone!
The first possibility is that they have been told not to say anything regarding club business by the owner, and of course his pet Charnley has taken that to mean everything. We have seen in the past that Ashley hates when anything is played out in the media, and this silence could be a way for things to play out the way he wants. With the regards to Rafa, we all know the boss isn’t afraid to state his feelings to the media, he did it at Valencia, at times with Liverpool, and last preseason after a friendly Rafa didn’t hold back with his thoughts on shortcomings by how the club is run. If the club releases an update on contract talks that may not be necessarily true, or 100% correct, the gaffer will come out and say so, and Ashley won’t stand for that sort of embarrassment!
The second possibility could be that they just don’t know anything. There is a very real chance that Ashley has decided to keep any talk of a takeover close to his chest, and only his lawyers will know whats going on. So from the club stance they are being asked questions that the only way they are getting the info is via the press, but to save face, instead of saying ‘not a clue’ its a more diplomatic ‘no comment’. This is probably the worst scenario possible, not for the fact Ashley may not have told anyone what is happening, I sort of expect that! But for the fact it effects more people than just his wallet, the staff at the club need to know if they will have a job come the new season, after all if the takeover does go through, the new owners may want to bring in their own heads of departments. Why he would keep any updates on Rafa to himself is beyond me, but one thing we can all agree on, is no-one knows what is going on in Ashley’s head!
The third and final possibility that I can think off, is that they are legally obliged to offer a no comment. This stems all from the possible takeover. If the takeover is a far forward as the Bin Zayed Group would have us believe, through their communication with the fans and the press (something the club could learn from). It could very well be that their lawyers have advised them, having dealt with Ashley before, it is best to not say anything until a transfer of funds have been completed. There is also the possibility that the fact Non-Disclosure agreements (NDA’s) have been signed, and the club may be taking it literally, wanting understandably to stay on the right side of the law (HMRC case anyone??), which of this is the case seems the most positive, but that just the optimistic in me.
What should the club do?
But even if it is due to one of the three above possibilities, or even one I haven’t thought of! there is a way the club can appease fans, and still give a form of ‘no comment’ to please whoever is telling them to keep quiet. There is no need to release a statement to the press, as annoying as that may be to the journalists trying to write a cohesive story, but just ONE tweet would do it.
A tweet from the club along the lines of :
We understand the fans annoyance at current events, but we are unable to give an update at this time, when we are able you will be the first to know!
This would then give the club a solid stance, but would allow the fans to know that they are unable at this time to offer any sort of concrete update. This is essentially all we are asking in a way. We understand talk of a takeover must take place mostly behind closed doors, but we need to know about Rafa, which is the one update we all need!
The club however seem to be ignoring the call for any sort of news, and are going out of their way to avoid anything! So unless something is forthcoming from the powers that be, we as a fanbase should keep our response to anything coming out of the club: