A board member of the 10,000-strong Newcastle United Supporters Trust has warned that the troubled relationship between the club and community threatens long-term damage.
Linda Bush was speaking at the annual meeting of NUST which now has the most paying members of any football supporters trust in England.
“The children growing up in this community are not supporting Newcastle,” said Linda who told members that her daughter is the only member of her football team who wears a black and white shirt. “They’re all wearing Man City or Liverpool shirts. A few years ago that would have been unthinkable.”
The board member for community and inclusion who, after a lifetime of supporting the club has cancelled her season ticket, told supporters that there was a “fragility in the relationship between Newcastle and the community. There are barriers and we need to make the club listen.”
NUST has undergone a major resurgence over the past year. As well as a surge in membership, it has a new board after the UK’s biggest fan election.
The new look Trust – which is affiliated to the influential Football Supporters’ Association – is the only legally constituted, fully democratic and not-for-profit Newcastle fan organisation. It is also the only supporters group Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley is prepared to meet.
NUST board member Peter Maughan said there had been slight progress in the relationship with the club but urged fans to be patient.
“This board will be doing everything it can to put your points to the club,” he said. “Whilst it’s tiny steps to start with, large strides will follow. Don’t expect a revolution. It’s an evolution which we – the Trust – will drive.”
NUST chair Alex Hurst said the Trust was a broad church representing all fans and he invited the estimated 300,000 UK and worldwide Newcastle fans to become members.
He told supporters: “Not everyone here might go to St James’ Park anymore and not everyone here might go to away matches, but there are thousands of people who do and we have a responsibility to them – as the only body that the club has to speak to – to represent them and make sure their voices are heard.”
He added: “If we can make a difference to the women’s toilets in the East Stand, or a difference to the way tickets are allocated to people in London, or a difference to what goes on for kids at St James’ Park at half time – and how accessible the stadium is – I think that’s worth doing.”
Mr Hurst was confident that a planned meeting with Mr Charnley would take place very soon. “Hopefully we’re going to get some answers for members this season,” he said.
For more information about Newcastle United Supporters Trust visit its website https://nufctrust.co.uk/