The plight of Newcastle United fans has been well-documented over recent months.
With the club grabbing the headlines due to a reported takeover attempt from the Dubai-based Bin Zayed Group, and with Rafa Benitez’s departure sparking discussion everywhere, it has seemed as if the Magpies have barely been out of the news since the end of last season.
And all the while, despite the best efforts of fan protest groups, Mike Ashley has kept total control over the club, not budging an inch in his stranglehold over the boardroom.
Sometimes it can feel as if the Toon Army are fighting a losing battle, and that’s why it is more important than ever that they double down in their efforts to keep that protest spirit alive.
One of the best ways they could do that would be respected and impartial voices in the game to champion their cause, and that’s why Ian Holloway’s latest comments on Ashley are more than welcome.
Speaking to the Sack Race, the enigmatic manager-turned-pundit said: “He must have something about him as he’s a fantastic businessman.
“He’s here there and everywhere. He’s self-made but I don’t see it as Newcastle belonging to him, they belong to the community.
“Unfortunately he’s the custodian of it and he has to make sure that somewhere along the line that the club keeps growing.”
Holloway has hit the nail on the head with this one.
A club like Newcastle is so vital to the identity of the city and its population that it must be respected and ran in a way that is sympathetic to its status and importance in the local community.
Ashley has failed to do that completely, daubing St. James’ Park in Sports Direct advertising and even renaming the stadium at one point.
The controversial businessman will never be a suitable owner until he understands what the club means to the people of Tyneside, and you can’t help feeling that he will never properly get it at all.