A Pledge For Active Support

Last week the world witnessed an attempted power-grab in football. Groups of angry fans across the country dropped decades of ingrained tribalism to unite against a common enemy in order to protect our football clubs and the pyramid they are all part of.

It was a rare and emphatic win for the people who matter against the ever-encroaching sterilisation of our game.

Commercialism in football is undoubtedly here, it has been since '92. Some would argue it has been since the first sponsor appeared on a home shirt; the famous white of HSV branded boldly. HITACHI emblazoned across the chest of our very own Kevin Keegan in bright red lettering. As HSV were branded, so were we. "Legacy fans" was the label. Cold billionaire corporate slang used to describe people who no longer matter to the men who hold their respective clubs' hostage.

Over a century of domestic supporters paying into their clubs; buying tickets, kits, food and programmes. Thoughtlessly reduced to a throwaway term by men who bought vital community assets and attempted to mercilessly pry them from the embrace of those who built it all. They'd have us replaced by the modern fan. Someone whose connection with their chosen club was born through data-points, statistics and twitter interactions. Instead of family ties, political positions and local values. A football club is a gift to the community it represents, and every community should be represented within its club.

So, what can Newcastle Supporters do to affect positive, lasting change?

Digressing slightly, we can look to the history of active support in football for guidance. It's hard to ignore the Ultra movement that emerged from Italy in the 1950s. The ideals of young men representing their pre-unification city-states filtered through the generations and easily transferred to the stands.

Whilst we shouldn't advocate for the violence that sometimes occurs alongside, Ultra groups elevated themselves into positions of influence through coordinated active support initiatives. Demanding that their clubs honour the communities they are a vital part of, these groups can be credited with inspiring fan movements and representation within clubs globally.

There are parallels to be drawn. Newcastle supporters have an opportunity to transcend our meaning. From passive customers who buy a ticket and sing some songs, to active supporters who protect the club and hold anyone involved with it accountable. Doing this through organised movements and demanding a real financial stake in a community asset that belongs to the supporters, and always has.

With the most positive supporter-led project in the United Kingdom in the 1892 Pledge, a platform exists to become trendsetters in English football. In Wor Flags there is the most grand and ambitious active supporter group in the country.

The idea of supporters united behind these two initiatives is a powerful one. A genuine opportunity to demonstrate the importance and position of supporters within the game to the cowards who tried to steal it whilst our backs were turned.

The successful purchase of an ownership stake of any size in a Premier League club has the potential to send shockwaves throughout the English pyramid. Inspiring ambition and action at every level of the game. The opportunity for Newcastle supporters to be the spark that ignites a fierce and irreversible flame of change for the better, sits right in-front of us.

There will be doubters and detractors. People who believe that the game is too far gone and that we are but passive bystanders, witnessing our connection to the sport fade further away with every passing season. We can forgive people for feeling this way, as the trend in football since 1992 suggests that actually, they're right.

But that doesn't mean it's inevitable. There is momentum on our side and a renewed will to wrestle back influence. Whilst football fans have been guilty of sitting back for years and passively consuming the product put in front of us, that era is ending. Our eyes have shot wide open to the dirty reality hidden behind the sheen of the Premier League brand.

The notion of fan ownership is laughable to some, and I'm enough of a pragmatist to admit that it's highly ambitious. Though I'm also a romantic, one who believes that the untapped power of united active support can be a benchmark in history for something truly special.

It may be 1% initially, but jamming our foot firmly in the door of club ownership can be a powerful catalyst for more. One percent becomes two, two becomes three.

The rest is history.


Recent Posts

See All