Newcastle United Supporters Trust has become the latest group to find itself banned by the club they love.
The fans group was invited to be a permanent member of the Magpies Fans Forum but after a row over their coverage of the first meeting - which took place five weeks ago - it was yesterday barred from future events.
Fanzine editor Mark Jensen described the latest ban as “yet another sad day for Newcastle United fans” and suggested the fledgeling Forum was already “dead in the water.”
“The current set-up sees no value in interacting with Newcastle fans in any kind of meaningful way,” he said.
NUST board member Michael Thewlis said he couldn’t understand why, if the club had a problem with the group’s coverage of the Forum, it had taken nearly five weeks to raise it.
“I think it’s really sad that this has happened and we’re having to talk again about events off the pitch when we have a game against a top four side this weekend,” he said. We’ve tried to build bridges with the club - as we’ve said to them we’re a critical friend - and we want to help them avoid the mistakes of the past.
“The fan forum meeting was five weeks ago, and had the ban been based on our reporting of it we would have expected it then. It all doesn’t feel right. It feels heavy handed and a massive overreaction. All I can think is it maybe also has something to do with our statement in support of the Chronicle, Journal and Sunday Sun, which would be more prescient.”
News of the ban broke when the Trust posted a statement on its Facebook page yesterday morning. A spokesman for NUST said the Trust had looked forward to the chance to interact with club officials and have the opportunity to ask questions and report back to its members - and when the inaugural meeting of the forum took place in September there was little to suggest that its permanent position would last only one night.
But after publishing information about what was said at the forum - including that the club weren’t prioritising cup success and confirming that no additional revenue was gained from the display of Sports Direct branding at St James’ Park - before the club had put out its official version, it appears to have upset the black and white’s hierarchy.
“The Trust made clear that we reserved the right to report back to our members as to what went on at the Fans Forum, the club confirming via their fans liaison officer that they accepted this,” the Trust said.
“Questions were duly asked - many supplied by our members following an online survey - at the Forum by the NUST representative, Peter Fanning, and a lively meeting produced many interesting topics of discussion.
“Two days later, NUST published Peter Fanning’s overview of the meeting and it attracted a lot of publicity, due mainly to the nature of the topics covered but also the fact the Newcastle United minutes didn’t appear until 24 hours after they’d been advertised to be released.
“When the club minutes did belatedly appear, nothing of substance that had been reported by NUST was contradicted in Newcastle United’s official feedback. However, the spirit of openness has now dramatically ended and NUST have been informed by Newcastle United that their ‘permanent’ place at the Fans Forum has now been withdrawn.
“We have been barred from attending the next meeting in December and all subsequent Fan Forums.”