‘Hope is the main thing’: The Back Page owner on business since Newcastle United takeover

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One year on from the revolutionary takeover of Newcastle United by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media, we mark the event with this special NewcastleWorld series, looking at the highs, lows, changes and developments that have taken place on Tyneside.

Tucked away on St Andrew's Street, in the shadow of St. James' Park, is a treasure cove for Newcastle United fans.

The Back Page stocks everything from shirts and posters to retro programmes and gifts. If a Magpies-related nik-nak exists, you'll find it amongst the busy shelves of the memorabilia shop.

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Interest and passion in the club were hugely boosted one year ago when the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media bought the club from the ever-unpopular Mike Ashley.

The renewed positivity felt by Geordies led to an upturn in trade for The Back Page, walls are adorned with cartoons of Amanda Staveley, Mehrdad Ghodoussi, Eddie Howe and all those involved with the new era. It's an upturn that has been vital when dealing with the sucker punches taken in a cost of living crisis.

NewcastleWorld speaks to The Back Page owner Mick Edmondson about how trade has been since October 7, 2021.

It’s been one year since the Newcastle United takeoverIt’s been one year since the Newcastle United takeover
It’s been one year since the Newcastle United takeover | -

Q: Hi Mick, take us back to takeover day last year, where were you when it was confirmed?

A: I was at work and the rumours started about midday. It became official around 5 or 6 pm, I was just leaving The Back Page in Newcastle and had one of my daughters with me. We went past the ground and there were already people starting to gather and sing, it was unbelievable. The total relief of getting rid of Mike Ashley was one thing - becoming the 'richest club in the world' was another!

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Q: There's been a huge positivity boost that has come with the new era. How has that affected trade?

A: We've been given hope. The national media say we're desperate for a trophy... yes we'd like to win one and there'll be no place like it on earth when we do, but we're not desperate. We've been given hope and that's the main thing. Going to the match home and away with a smile on your face and the belief you can win against anyone. Seeing the progression is brilliant, what Eddie Howe and the owners have done has been brilliant so far.

The Back Page in Newcastle is a gem for football fansThe Back Page in Newcastle is a gem for football fans
The Back Page in Newcastle is a gem for football fans | -

There's been an uplift in trade but it's swings and roundabouts. The travel has suffered because of the way of the world and things being so expensive now - petrol and lack of drivers, all that. In the past, we've run a coach to every single away game and this season we've only run a couple. It's all to do with cost. The shop is busier, but we've lost the travel.

Q: What would the business have looked like if Mike Ashley still owned Newcastle United, and you had the cost of living crisis to deal with?

A: Mike Ashley was here for 14 years and we did okay when he was here. There is different stock available now. The takeover has been brilliant for Newcastle United support and it's positive for the store. It's been 19 years now for us at The Back Page and we're loving it, we're supporters first.

Old programmes on the shelves at The Back PageOld programmes on the shelves at The Back Page
Old programmes on the shelves at The Back Page | -

Q: The Back Page is so loved by Newcastle fans. How did it all start?

A: I used to do a fanzine called 'Toon Army News' in the 90s and I used to go to a place called Sports Pages in London and thought it was great. I always felt they had big spaces above bookshelves and didn't fully utilise them. I started supplying pictures and they sold really well.

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Just before I opened Back Page, I did a reccy at Sports Pages in London and came away so excited with ideas for the one in Newcastle. I thought we can do that, but we can do it better. It rolled from there and just got bigger, we started the coaches to away games after a few months. I think it's part of Newcastle's heritage now, I'm proud of it.

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