On Monday we brought you the news that season ticket sales at Newcastle United were ‘less than healthy’.
The article produced much debate and has been picked up by the mainstream press; covered by The Telegraph, The Mail and Talksport amongst many others.
Despite Mike Ashley’s end of season speech apparently promising changes for the better at Newcastle United and twice shifting the season ticket renewal deadline back, by almost a month in total, it appears to have had zero affect on encouraging fans to buy season tickets.
Even though the season tickets are now on general sale, an investigation by Chris Holt showed that of 24,154 seats, only 17,228 of them had been bought up as season tickets – with 6,926 (28.67%) remaining unsold.
This information gleaned from the official club website itself, which has a stadium plan allowing prospective season ticket holders to see up to date information of which seats are available to buy as season tickets.
(Not all areas of the stadium can be accessed on the website plan, with the whole of level 7 (which includes the 8,000 capacity family enclosure) amongst those that can’t be viewed.)
By Monday, Chris Holt had came up with the following totals, after going through around two thirds of the accessible areas of the 52,000 capacity St James Park.
Whether fans are actively boycotting as a statement of intent, or just basically fed up with watching a sub-standard Newcastle United devoid of ambition, the end result is still the same – thousands and thousands of unsold season tickets.
The question being – would the picture look any better for Mike Ashley once the rest of the sold/unsold seats were counted up?
All the accessible areas have now (Tuesday) been viewed by Chris and totalled up, giving us these final figures:
The extra ten thousand seats viewed since yesterday’s figures have given a remarkably consistent result, with still 71% of the new overall total showing as being bought as season tickets and 29% unsold.
This leaving 9,855 unsold season tickets out of a total of 34,044 seats.
However, there is then an extra sting in the tail in these figures for Mike Ashley, as during his investigation Chris Holt discovered that seats which hadn’t been renewed in January/February (long-term season ticket offer deadline) or those up for renewal in May (extended to 19 June), were still showing as sold despite the season ticket holder not renewing.
(If it is your seat that you haven’t renewed, you can find out via your own unique log-in to the website ticket section if it has been taken by somebody else yet, or whether it is still available for you to buy if you change your mind).
After asking for supporters to come forward via Twitter, many other fans confirmed that this was also the case for them. Their non-renewed season tickets were showing as sold on the club’s stadium plan despite not having been bought up by anybody else.
So what that basically means of course, is that the 29% (9,855 out of 34,044) who haven’t renewed, is a false figure. That is just a starting point with hundreds, if not thousands, to add to the unsold total.
As a starting point we can look at a minimum of 10,000 season tickets of the 34,000 that haven’t been bought up.
Of the other 18,000 seats in the ground, you have that 8,000 capacity family enclosure which I would find hard to believe is anywhere near sold out, especially after what the kids had to watch last season.
Also within those extra 18,000 places are the 3,200 available for away fans.
First game of the season against Southampton, you have to assume a minimum of 2,000 of those away seats not being taken and so extra ones available to Newcastle fans.
Potentially a crowd of under 40,000 to kick the season off against The Saints?
However, it is in Mike Ashley’s own hands to rectify this, he has to convince supporters that the club are going to show ambition by putting realistic investment into the squad.
Without it, many fans will quite rightly keep their money in their pockets and not commit to a season ticket or even go match by match.
It is very difficult, and depressing, to believe that this is the same club which once had a 15,000 waiting list for season tickets back in the days of Kevin Keegan.
Mike Ashley has squeezed the life and aspirations out of the Newcastle United fanbase, yet at the drop of a hat he can breathe life back into the corpse.
In January 2013 he was forced into buying five players because of the pressing fear of releagtion, so let us hope that fears of his Sports Direct advertising appearing alongside thousands of empty seats, plus fewer televised live matches, will provide similar ‘encouragement’.
***By sheer coincidence….the club have this (Tuesday) afternoon started promoting the great value that season tickets represent, publishing this article on their website, including the following line:
‘Season tickets for the 2015/16 campaign are now on full general sale and all areas of St. James’ Park have availability, including the popular East Stand and Family Enclosure.’