Newcastle fans staged yet another demonstration against controversial owner Mike Ashley as the January transfer window drew to a close with a scramble for new signings.
Supporters at the Gallowgate End of St James’ Park unfurled a banner ahead of Wednesday night’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Burnley carrying a quote attributed to former manager Kevin Keegan, who walked out of his second spell as manager in September 2008 in protest at Ashley’s running of the club.
It read: “Don’t ever give up on your club, keep supporting it. It’s your club and trust me, one day you will get your club back and it will be everything you wanted it to be.
“Newcastle United is bigger than anyone. It hurts, I know, but just keep going. He is only one man; we are a city, a whole population. Trust me.”
The move came as the club worked desperately to tie up loan deals for Leicester striker Islam Slimani and Sparta Prague keeper Martin Dubravka, both of which were confirmed half an hour or so after the 11pm deadline.
Coupled with the capture of Chelsea midfielder Kenedy on loan for the remainder of the season – the Brazilian made his debut against the Clarets – the three signings comprised the sum total of Newcastle’s incoming January business. Henri Saivet, Freddie Woodman, Jack Colback, Rolando Aarons and Jamie Sterry all left Tyneside on temporary deals.
Ashley admitted in the wake of promotion back to the top flight that he could not afford to give manager Rafael Benitez the backing he wanted to re-establish the club as a force in the Premier League and subsequently put it up for sale.
However, he pulled the plug on takeover talks with Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners earlier this month after rejecting a series of offers which did not meet his asking price, sparking fresh fury from fans who have railed against him for much of his 10-and a half-year reign to date.