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Men's Football Ian Lavery: Newcastle fans must boycott St James Park to get Mike Ashley out

LABOUR MP Ian Lavery showed solidarity with campaigners The Magpie Group and told Newcastle fans to not “give up” in their continued fight to rid the club of Mike Ashley.

Speaking at the Durham Miners’ Gala over the weekend, Lavery backed the fans’ boycott of the club and told them: “If we don’t hit Mike Ashley in the backside pocket, this will continue.”

With no manager at the helm, Rafa Benitez walked away at the expiry of his contract when it became apparent that “the club did not share the same vision,” and with key players being sold without being replaced, supporters are preparing industrial action in the latest attempt to force Ashley to leave.

Mr Lavery told the Star: “Newcastle supporters are renowned for their loyalty to the club.

“Football is a religion in the north-east but many fans feel cheated by the billionare chairman Mike Ashley.

“Ashley runs the club using the same business model as he does Sports Direct, as a bargian basement” venture.

“The Magpie Group are a determined group who want to see the end of Ashley and the club see some success with the restoration of respect between the fans and the club.”

In a video message, Mr Lavery had said: “What I would say to people is don’t give up, we’ve got to campaign for this great club of ours.

“We will have to take some action at some stage, because the likes of Mike Ashley, believe me, only listen to one thing and that is finances.

“If we don’t hit Mike Ashley in the backside pocket this will continue.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also spoke out against Ashley at the Gala and slammed him for the way he treats staff, not only at the football club but at Sports Direct.

Last week, the Magpie Group, the Ashley Out group, If Rafa Goes We Go and online sites NUFC360 and Empty For Ashley released a statement calling for the boycott of St James’ Park.

“Our initial aim is to mobilise a boycott of the Arsenal game (#BoycottArsenal) on the 11th of August,” the statement read, “with details and plans to boycott future games to be announced in the coming weeks. This is step one in our plan to starve Mike Ashley of the thing he desires most: money.

“That’s why we will be focusing on a full boycott of match-day activities at St James’ Park going forward and this will be our mantra until the club has new ownership.

“We, collectively, will not be putting another penny in Mike Ashley’s hands and so we have effectively banned ourselves from entering SJP, Nine bar, the club shop or any Sports Direct store nationwide.

“We are in the process of organising protests at Sports Direct branches nationwide.”

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