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  1. ITV Report

Newcastle United fans protest against Mike Ashley's ownership

Newcastle United said 47,500 fans bought tickets for the game. Credit: ITV News

A collection of 10 Newcastle United supporters groups have led a protest march from Newcastle city centre to St James' Park, ahead of the club's first Premier League game of the season against Arsenal.

The groups are protesting against what they describe as the club's owner, Mike Ashley's 'continued mismanagement of Newcastle United.'

The march began outside the Sports Direct store on Northumberland Street in the city centre and ended at St James' Park.

The supporters groups were also calling on fans to boycott the game 'making a loud, visible stand against Mike Ashley's ownership of the club'.

The collective group includes The Magpie Group, If Rafa Goes We Go, AshleyOut.com and Empty for Ashley.

Joe Halliday - a spokesperson for Empty for Ashley, one of the groups organising the protests said:

We’re calling on fans to not only boycott the Arsenal match, but to join us in making a loud, visible stand against Mike Ashley’s ownership of our football club. It’s time for him to realise that he is not welcome at our football club - and he is not welcome in our city.

“On the 11th of August, the eyes of the footballing world will be on St James’ Park - this is our opportunity to make it clear that enough is enough. It’s time for Mike Ashley to sell our club to a party that wants to take it forward - and it’s time for supporters who agree to take a united stand against him.

“As a collective of ten groups, we are absolutely committed to a sustained, co-ordinated and long-term campaign with the sole objective of driving Mike Ashley out of Newcastle United Football Club. Boycotting the Arsenal match is not a one-off and Mr Ashley needs to understand that this will not blow over.”

– Joe Halliday - a spokesperson

Newcastle United said more than 47,635 tickets were sold for the opening game, but inside St James' Park, the number of empty seats was clearly visible.

ITV News Tyne Tees spoke to fans ahead of the game, who had mixed feelings about the boycott.

The final score in Newcastle United's opening game was 1-nil to Arsenal.