NEWCASTLE UNITED has one of the largest fan bases in the world and every home game sees the famous St James Park filled to capacity. That's over 50,000 people.
It is this massive support that has made the premier league football club very wealthy. The Forbes Top 20 Richest Football Clubs lists Newcastle as the twentieth richest club in the world.
The fan base is largely working class so it would not be a sensible move to imply that working class people are stupid.
But that is exactly what manager Alan Pardew has done.
He has praised the Southampton football club for regularly producing 'intelligent' young players. Why are they 'intelligent'? According to Pardew it's because they are middle class:
' Southampton have a huge catchment area and it's a different type of catchment area. There is a big working class community, but there are a lot of middle class kids who have a good education. The players who come out of Southampton are quite intelligent and there might be something in that.'
There has been an immediate reaction from Newcastle fans.
On Twitter 'Yorkshire Sam writes: 'Only Alan Pardew could demean the working class in a huge working class city.'
And Natasha writes: 'Alan Pardew need a good kick in the teeth for those comments. I'm working class and educated, thanks very much.'
And no less than Stephen Fry thought that Darren Stephenson's comment was worthy of a retweet: ' I've just read Pardew's comment that working class kids are stupid. Disgraceful. Hope he gets sacked soon.'
Pardew should know better. After he was recently substantially fined and penalised for attempting to head butt a Hull City player, Luke Edwards of the Daily Telegraph wrote:
"He (Alan Pardew) is not the first player or manager to have risen from a working-class background to achieve fame and fortune in football, but he is perhaps one of the few who has been unable to adapt his behaviour accordingly. "
The implication of this comment is obvious; if you are working class you are more inclined to be violent. These comments also delivered up a storm of protest.
Said one sarcastic writer: ' I live in a predominantly working class town in England, and it's true that we all walk around headbutting each other constantly. It's in our genes. If only we all went to public schools and daisy-chained the head butting gene out of ourselves.'
Newcastle were thumped 4-0 by Southampton this weekend and the calls for Pardew's sacking are growing louder.