Former Newcastle United captain Bob Moncur is to telephone elderly football fans to help combat loneliness as people avoid face-to-face contact amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Moncur and members of the club’s staff will ring about 1,900 season ticket holders who are aged 70 and above.
It is hoped it will “keep morale up”.
Supporters’ group The Mag welcomed the move but criticised the club for charging some people for season tickets despite the Premier League suspension.
No games are taking place and the government is ordering people to stay at home except in certain instances and avoid gatherings.
“It’s very important for people to keep in touch and this is a great way to check supporters are keeping safe and happy,” said Moncur, who played for the club between 1962-74.
“I’m not sure young supporters will remember most of my stories anyway, but older fans usually do and they have their own perspective from the stands.”
The scheme will be an extension of the club’s Memory Cafe, which sees lonely or isolated people meet monthly at its St James’ Park ground to chat.
People over 70 or from other vulnerable groups and cafe participants who have previously given the club permission to contact them will be prioritised, it said.
Newcastle United’s managing director, Lee Charnley, said: “We’ve seen just how much of a positive impact the Memory Cafe has had on some of our older supporters over the last year and the phone calls allow us to continue to reach them and to alleviate isolation and loneliness at a time when it’s needed most.”
Moncur also played for Sunderland AFC and Carlisle United as well as managing the Cumbrians, Hartlepool United, Hearts and Plymouth.
Independent fans’ group The Mag said the scheme was an “excellent idea”.
However, it criticised the club for what it described as a “refusal” by Mr Charnley and owner Mike Ashley to comment earlier this week after some fans were charged for their next season ticket.
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