Once again Ashleyout.com would like to thank all fans who took part in yesterday’s protests, whether by boycotting the Swansea match, taking part in #StandUpToAshley by showing him the red card in the 34th minute or by protesting at Sports Direct stores.
It was never truly our intention to protest at all Sports Direct stores listed in our protest announcement. This was a tactic to inconvenience Mike Ashley by forcing him to arrange for extra security measures at all named stores and, evidently, it was successful based on sightings of additional security staff at several of the named shops. Although we would not have stood in the way of protests at other stores, our intention was to have a demonstration outside the Northumberland Street store only. Those that braved the adverse weather conditions succeeded by increasing press coverage of the Ashley Out movement and by showing Mike Ashley that our protests will not be limited to matches in what was only the start of our #AshleyEmbargo campaign, targeting all Mike Ashley’s business interests.
The #StandUpToAshley protest also gained extensive press coverage and once again demonstrated to Mike Ashley and the watching world that we will not sit on our hands while he destroys our club. Tens of thousands of fans joined this protest to show their dissatisfaction in the 34th minute of the game by showing Ashley the red card, voicing their frustrations or by simply standing up in defiance.
Our plans to distribute the red cards were not advertised in advance to prevent the club from arranging the additional security that has been put in place at the stadium for previous protests. It is clear that those within Ashley’s regime will not tolerate any criticism, even from the fans who have supported the club long before their arrival and who will support it long after their departure. There were eyewitness accounts of stewards removing cards from fans in the ground and attempts to prevent fans from taking them into the stadium. This is despite the fact that the material was both factual and inoffensive and there being absolutely no legal basis to confiscate these protest materials.
Notwithstanding the club’s totalitarian approach, the aim of further highlighting the club’s distinct lack of ambition was achieved. Even with £34m in the bank, the club refused to invest in a competent manager and to strengthen a squad low on numbers and quality to make it fit for purpose. This adds even more weight to the argument that its sole objective is now to exist as a Sports Direct billboard.
Furthermore, during the game a remarkable incident took place when John Carver reportedly saw fit to abuse a “fellow fan” once again for questioning his players’ passion. This type of indiscipline and contempt for the club’s supporters has unfortunately been all too common from those representing the club since Ashley’s takeover.
Finally it was very heartening to see a large number of empty seats once again, as more and more fans make a clear statement that their support cannot be taken for granted by an owner who doesn’t appear to have the slightest interest in the club’s on-field performance. The ‘official’ attendance given by the club (46,884) was the lowest of the season, although as with the Spurs game the actual number of those who attended was clearly lower.
Again, we reiterate that this is just the start. Our plans for future protests will be released in due course, including full details of the #AshleyEmbargo, and we hope that fans will continue to support the campaign by uniting together to achieve one common goal. United we stand, divided we fall.