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May 1, 2014

Fans set to protest in Newcastle home finale

Newcastle's home support will be delighted that it all comes to a close as far as home games go when Cardiff head up to Tyneside on Saturday. Very few Geordies are excited by the prospect of the match and it is not difficult to see why.

- Report: Ben Arfa wants to stay at Newcastle

There has been a campaign underway since Newcastle's latest defeat, 3-0 at Arsenal on Monday and their sixth loss in a row, to to protest against ownership and management of the football club at the Cardiff game. The proposed idea is for all Newcastle supporters to get up and leave St James' Park as soon as the clock hits 60 minutes regardless of what is happening on the pitch. A Twitter hashtag has been created, #60minwalkout.

Whether this protest proves to be more successful than the numerous ones from before, only time will tell. I really hope it works, although I still don't think it is enough. The reaction of the Newcastle supporter base to the Mike Ashley-era problems has been very disappointing with supporters trusts here and 'Ashley Out' campaigns there, all publicly stating the same goal but never getting along with each other offering only fractured, splinter protest groups. A united and large scale effort would be a real force to be reckoned with, but as yet these groups have failed to find a way around the clubs apparent 'divide and conquer' tactics.

Even the 'regular' unhappy supporters are far too easily swayed from their dislike of owner and manager and never was that highlighted better than on Thursday. They're militant when it comes to clicking on 'Sack Pardew' voting buttons on the local newspaper website, but it apparently doesn't take much to re-divert their attention. Newcastle announced the launch of a new away shirt today and it brought an almost complete halt to anti-Ashley and Pardew discussion on Twitter. Something along the lines of 'WE WANT PARDEW OUT, SAY WEoooh, look, a new shirt, that's nice!'

Everything points to the fact that the majority of fans are united in their opinions of manager and owner, but they've never been further apart in terms of actually managing to do anything significant about it. If everyone did up-and-leave, it would be the biggest sign yet that a fan-revolution is underway. I really hope it happens.

Earlier this week I wrote about Pardew's handling of Hatem Ben Arfa and then on Wednesday night the Frenchman went public with an interview which ramped up the pressure on an already unpopular manager. Ben Arfa was never likely to feature against Cardiff anyway, despite being fit, but the interview confirmed it. Pardew responded by forcing Ben Arfa to train with the reserves while Newcastle fans began work on a banner with Ben Arfa in the classic Che Guevara pose over the word 'Hope'.

The match itself is almost an irrelevance for many Newcastle fans. They believe that failing to secure a top ten finish might be the only thing that would bring an end to Pardew's management and so there are supporters out there who wouldn't be too disappointed if Cardiff beat their team.

It is an entirely different matter for Cardiff players and fans though. They'll be fighting for their lives in the knowledge that defeat could bring an end to their time in the Premier League, while a victory could drag them out of the bottom three and above Newcastle's bitter rivals, Sunderland.

The backdrop to the game should help them.

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