On Friday (12 June) I asked this question in an article: ‘Will there be Newcastle United match programmes for the remaining matches of the 2019/20 season?’
With no fans allowed into games, any match programmes produced by Premier League clubs will be offered more as a service to benefit supporters, rather than as a money making exercise.
Lower print runs with no sales at stadiums equals little / no profit, meaning that this will be an exercise in helping supporters have a complete (as much as possible) set of programmes for the current season. Plus of course benefiting those fans who simply want to buy and read a match programme.
So which clubs are willing to go the extra mile and do something for supporters that isn’t all about profit…?
Looking around, I discovered that actually there were plenty in the Premier League, with Aston Villa having committed to doing a programme for each of their remaining home games, offering all six for £19.99 including postage, clearly not doing that deal with profit in mind!
Bottom club Norwich City are another, they are charging £30 for six programmes, but when you bear in mind they each have to be posted out separately to reach fans before matches, still no profit in it as far as I can see, bearing in mind much lower print runs compared to normal.
Looking around, Newcastle fans should be able to order a programme for the final away match at Brighton, they are doing one for each of their remaining five home games, charging £5 each including postage, discounts for their fans who order all five.
Then the Mail newspaper reported that Burnley, Crystal Palace, Tottenham, Watford and West Ham are all also working on producing match programmes for their fans.
Arsenal are another club that are reported to be still producing programmes for these remaining matches, meanwhile, you have Southampton, Sheffield United and Wolves each planning a one-off bumper programme to cover the rest of the season.
So what about Newcastle United match programmes?
Well to nobody’s great surprise, Mike Ashley and his minions have still not communicated anything directly to Newcastle fans, whether match programmes or indeed anything else. You know the score – no match ticket refunds, furloughed staff, still taking 2020/21 advance season ticket payments, the takeover, no 2019/20 season ticket refunds for remaining five games…and so on.
However, we have now got The Shields Gazette reporting a decision from the club and the reasoning for it…:
‘Newcastle, however, have decided against printing programmes for retail and mail order sale for its remaining league and cup games…There won’t be a print-run of programmes for hygiene reasons given the risk of passing coronavirus on through their distribution.’
All very bizarre and cynics would say…unbelievable.
How can Norwich, West Ham, Villa and many other clubs safely manage to produce match programmes but it becomes too dangerous for Newcastle United to do it? Indeed, how do all of those other magazines still appear in newsagents every week?
Sadly, this is no surprise.
The only true reason for this surely is that like anything else that might benefit fans, rather than simply produce a profit, Mike Ashley and his people are not interested.
Actually, it would have been a massive surprise if a match programme had been produced for Sunday’s match against Sheffield United.
Considering Mike Ashley has refused to allow supporters to be told anything, never mind refund the money fans paid out four months ago for tickets for this match. Whilst at the same time all other 19 Premier League clubs have refunded their fans for now useless tickets, or are currently in the process of doing so.