Newcastle United fans opted to stay away from the club’s final pre-season friendly of the summer against St Etienne with a crowd of just over 16,000 turning out at St James’ Park.
In a summer which has been dominated by talk of a boycott for the opening Premier League game against Arsenal, it remains to be seen whether there will be a notable difference next weekend when the Gunners visit Tyneside.
In an official attendance of 16.686, the crowd was made up mainly of United fans with just 11 St Etienne supporters in the Leazes End.
The crowd was down by around 5,000 compared to the clash with Augsburg this time last year while the previous year 23,906 were at St James’ against Hellas Verona.
A recent statement for campaign group Empty For Ashley had read: “Following 12 years of neglect and disrespect of our football club and the recent departure of Rafael Benitez as Newcastle United manager, many supporters feel they can no longer return to St James’ Park whilst Mike Ashley remains the current custodian.
“Consequently, many fans are of the view that the only way to put pressure on him to sell is through the active participation in boycotts and other forms of protest.
“With many choosing to not renew their season tickets, and not attend games, it has come to light that local establishments could be affected by such actions of protest.”
Steve Bruce had said before the game:“I understand the disappointment following the departure of Rafa Benitez but I’ll do everything I possibly can to keep the momentum going and push the club on even further.”