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Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Fans' fury at Newcastle chief

Newcastle United supporter
Though Newcastle lead the Championship, fans are distraught

By Ollie Williams

Fans on Tyneside reacted with dismay as owner Mike Ashley ended his attempts to sell Newcastle United and permanently appointed Chris Hughton as manager.

Some hailed long-overdue stability, but the majority said the decisions, plus the club's suggestion of renaming St James' Park, were "another blunder".

"Ashley will continue to call the wrong shots at the club," read a statement from Newcastle's supporters' trust.

"Now it has come down to the fans to step in to remove Mr Ashley."

The trust wants to buy Newcastle United from Ashley, who had been prepared to accept an £80m cash offer from businessman Barry Moat, but the club say the price tag was not met.


But BBC Radio Newcastle football commentator Mick Lowes said the trust should put its cash reserves into action now, to preserve the stadium name.

"The Newcastle United Supporters Trust tell me they've got £25m," Lowes told the radio station. "Why don't they give £2m to Ashley and say: 'End it now, there's £2m, just keep calling it St James' Park'."

Lowe said ordinary fans would then feel "forever indebted to the supporters' trust for keeping the name."

Frank Gilmore, former chairman of the Independent Newcastle United Supporters' Association, told BBC Sport appointing Hughton is "the worst decision Mike Ashley's ever made".

The team we've got and the way we're playing, we should never be top of that division

Frank Gilmore

He said: "Chris Hughton's a lovely man but he's no football manager. This season he's made decisions on the pitch which didn't add up and if he's been appointed full-time, then that doesn't show a lot of ambition.

"I can't see Chris Hughton attracting the type of player we need to get us back to where we should be, and that's the top half of the Premier League.

"There's one guy just taken over at Middlesbrough who was available, who's got experience - Gordon Strachan. There are other managers out there."

Newcastle, relegated from the Premier League last season, have fought their way to the top of the Championship.

But Gilmore believes Ashley should have invested the £20m now promised to Newcastle over the summer, and appointed a manager in the close season, rather than settling ownership and managerial questions in October.

"We're doing quite well for one reason: how far the Championship is behind the Premier League. Newcastle are basically top of a bad bunch," he said.

St James' Park
A storm is brewing over the name of St James' Park

"Any other time, the team we've got and the way we're playing, we should never be top of that division. The same team wouldn't last five minutes in the Premier League.

"We were very fortunate on Saturday to get three points against Doncaster Rovers.

"That's how far Newcastle have gone down. I ask you - fortunate to get three points. You're talking about Newcastle United versus Doncaster Rovers. That really worries me."

Lowes said despite their reservations, fans should be grateful that at long last, something bordering on stability was returning to the club.

"It might not be the owner a percentage of the fans want but they've got an owner. They were in limbo previously, and they've got a full-time manager now too.

"That has to be a more stable situation than having a caretaker who gets asked, week in, week out, whether he wants the job or whether he's going to get the job, and he can't answer either question.

"Then you've had consortia all over the world allegedly interested in buying this famous football club, with an owner who's put it on the market and taken it off the market.

"But this should have been tied up in the summer so they could hit the ground running. They've only found stability close to the beginning of November."

This is another massive PR blunder. You don't change the name of St James' Park

Mick Lowes
BBC Radio Newcastle commentator

Not all fans calling in to BBC Radio Newcastle on Wednesday were angry with the developments of the past 24 hours.

One fan identifying themselves as CJ sent the following message: "At the risk of being lynched, isn't it about time Mr Ashley is thought of with a bit of thanks?

"Without him, there would be no club at all. And the stadium will always be known as St James' Park, no matter what it's called."

But Lowes, while admitting Ashley's "intentions were right" when he took over, said: "There have been major blunders and with some fans I don't think he'll ever catch up in terms of credibility.

"You could argue some fans are living in the 21st Century and are more keen to see finance coming into the club, rather than the old school, but I think this is another massive PR blunder.

"You don't change the name of St James' Park.

"Naming rights come with building new stadia - at the Emirates when Arsenal moved out of Highbury, or at the Riverside when Middlesbrough moved out of Ayresome Park. This is a historic stadium that should always be known as St James' Park.

"Just when you think, 'He's taken it off the market, given Chris Hughton the job full-time - OK, that's stability, they're mending the situation,' they slip in something like that and you think, 'No, no, you've misread it again'."

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see also
Ashley takes Newcastle off market
27 Oct 09 |  Newcastle
Newcastle confirm Hughton as boss
27 Oct 09 |  Newcastle
Newcastle takeover back on track
04 Oct 09 |  Newcastle
Newcastle must pay Keegan's costs
21 Oct 09 |  Tyne
Fans bid to buy Newcastle share
07 Oct 09 |  Newcastle
Ashley wants quick Newcastle sale
31 May 09 |  Newcastle
Ashley calls off Newcastle sale
28 Dec 08 |  Newcastle
Ashley puts Newcastle up for sale
14 Sep 08 |  Newcastle

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