NEWCASTLE United supporters have made an astonishing u-turn about Mike Ashley.
The Journal’s second major fan survey has shown nearly half of all supporters are now willing to back him as the club’s owner as the protracted sale attempts drag on.
More than 1,000 supporters responded to our online poll. And a surprising 45% said that given the current world financial situation they were prepared for Ashley to stay at United.
Answering the question ‘Given the credit crunch, would it be acceptable for Mike Ashley to stay at the club?’ more than 44% of respondents said they would. And asked ‘What circumstances would you consider Ashley staying as acceptable?’ only 27% said there were no circumstances under which they would accept him remaining at the helm.
That compares with our last survey which found that 68% of fans blamed the man they once welcomed with open arms for the situation at the club. Just 15% said he had a chance to redeem himself.
Temporary manager Joe Kinnear was yesterday signed up until the end of the season in the clearest sign yet that Newcastle United are unlikely to change hands in the short term.
And a big majority of supporters seem resigned to Ashley remaining at the club for a while, with nearly 70% believing the sale will not have gone through by the time of the crucial January transfer window.
Other findings in the survey include:
73% of fans believe Joe Kinnear was justified in his rant against the national press.
59% of fans think the club will finish in the bottom half of the table this season.
13% of fans think that the club will be relegated.
69% of fans believe Joey Barton has been victimised since his return to first team action.
77% of fans believe Michael Owen should be offered a new contract by the club.
76.2% of fans believe Kinnear’s talk of Shearer and Keegan coming in as a team was a PR stunt.
16.6% of fans say Jose Mourinho should take charge at St James’s Park – ahead of former boss Kevin Keegan.
On the pitch, the fans have been impressed with new signing Jonas Gutierrez, with 34% seeing him as player of the season so far. Shay Given was second.
Steve Wraith, former fans’ liaison officer and editor of the Players Inc fanzine, said he was not surprised by the results.
He said: “Newcastle fans are not stupid and they realise that the current financial situation is affecting things. And it could be a couple of years before things get better. Many fans still want to see Wise and Llambias leave the club, but I’m not sure that will happen in the short term.”