The low attendance at St James’ Park on Saturday when Newcastle United drew with Watford sent more of a message to the hierarchy than the Arsenal boycott, according to The Athletic journalist Chris Waugh.
The Telegraph has reported that 44,157 fans turned up to watch the 1-1 stalemate, meaning that around 15 per cent of the seats at St James’ Park were empty.
On the first day of the season, fans organised a boycott for the clash with Arsenal to show Mike Ashley they are prepared to hit him in the pocket unless he sells the club and leaves for good.
According to the Telegraph’s match report of that game, the attendance was 47,635.
The Athletic journalist Waugh, speaking via a live Q&A session on Saturday, reckons that the unplanned empty seats against Watford provide a better message to Ashley than the planned Arsenal boycott.
“I was shocked by how low the crowd was,” said Waugh. “I think it sends more of a statement to the hierarchy than the Arsenal boycott. If crowds like this continue then the board need to do something to try and get supporters back. It is clear some are seriously disillusioned.”
Waugh makes a very good point. Although fans are boycotting the club all season or until Ashley sells the Tyneside club, the fact that there were so many empty seats this week against Watford speaks volumes. While Watford are a team that are nowhere near as reputable as Arsenal, they are still a team that fans would have been more likely to expect a win and a good performance from, especially after last week’s win away at Tottenham. More empty seats means that Ashley made less money from that game, so if that continues to happen on a regular basis, the Newcastle owner may start to finally get the hint. However he knows what Newcastle fans are prepared to do and has it changed anything? Not really. While there have been solid takeover speculation over the last year and a half, Ashley is still at St James’ Park and for now, looks set to stay for the foreseeable future.