About a month ago I brought you the story of The Magpie Brand, a group of Newcastle United F.C. supporters who had grown so disenchanted, disgusted, and disillusioned by what owner Mike Ashley was doing to their club that they decided to make a difference. The way they chose to do this was to produce a football top that Newcastle supporters could purchase to show their support of the club, but not of Ashley personally and, just as importantly, to make sure that fewer N.U.F.C. replica tops were sold, thus keeping money out of Ashley’s pockets and to giving supporters an opportunity to buy a shirt not sponsored by a predatory payday loan company. The shirt they came up with- and were selling at cost– is not just better than anything the club has produced in decades, it is among the most handsome tops I have ever seen. It will come as no surprise that the initial run of 500 sold out in minutes and that they had 3,300 additional orders for the shirts on top of the first run. Finally, a victory for the sincere supporter over the bullying billionaire owner!
Not so fast.
The Magpie Brand announced today that their future- and that of the beautiful shirt- is now in jeopardy because Ashley is suing them for infringing on club trademarks. Namely, the use of the name “Magpies” and the magpie badge on the shirt. This seems like the kind of lawsuit that any judge would laugh out of court, and Ashley probably knows that. What Ashley also knows is that the process of fighting the charges made against them by Ashley will put The Magpie Brand out of business whether they are right or wrong. They don’t have enough money to fight him and that’s that. The Magpie Brand stated that they are going to try to create an alternative (can they at least use the black and white stripes, Mike!?), but I for one am not particularly hopeful. If you want to know about this saga in a bit more detail you can take a look at Jim Robertson’s excellent piece at The Mag. If you’re not interested I’ll sum things up for you.
Billionaire lout, not content with running one historic club into the ground or propping up another bigoted one (that’d be Rangers, by the way), decides to use his financial and legal might to crush his “everyman” opposition for daring to speak out against him.
Sounds like it has the makings of a good bedtime story…