Newcastle City Council have approved Mike Ashley’s plans to develop land opposite St James Park, which means that realistically there is now no chance of the stadium capacity ever been increased.

The land opposite the Gallogate End is now set to be home to two student accommodation blocks, nine and eleven storey high respectively.

Plans for a multi-million development opposite St James’ Park in Newcastle’s city centre have been given the green light.

The Mike Ashley development will also see a 10 story office block and 17 storey apartment building going up.

Newcastle City Council’s planning committee have given the go-ahead despite an objection from Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST).

Objections from Metro operator Nexus were also overruled by the planning committee.

Car parking next to St James Park will also be lost, making it even harder to park on a matchday, though the consequences for future generations of Newcastle fans are far more disappointing.

A feasibility study carried out when the Hall/Shepherd regime were in control, found that it would be possible to take the capacity up to around 60,000 by taking the Gallowgate End up to the level of the Leazes and Milburn. To enable this increase in St James Park capacity to happen, part of this land opposite the Gallowgate would need to be utilised.

Owning a long-term lease on the land, the club left the plans on the back-burner for a potential move in the future.

The lease on the land in question was part of the overall package Mike Ashley bought up when he took over Newcastle United.

However, this development of student accommodation etc will be a private project for a Mike Ashley property arm of his empire, rather than something that will benefit the football club.

It is ironic that this green light has been given to effectively prevent any future capacity expansion (none of the other three sides of St James Park can be expanded), at the same time as Newcastle fans have been filling St James Park whilst in the second tier.

The current home Championship average is over fifty one thousand up to now, only around a thousand or so under full capacity.

When St James Park was developed to its current level, it became the second biggest stadium in English football (only Old Trafford bigger), with the label of second best supported team a sense of pride for many fans. When Arsenal moved to the Emirates, NUFC became the third biggest.

However, whilst Mike Ashley is making his plans to ensure St James Park capacity is never ever increased in the future, Newcastle have already seen Liverpool, Manchester City and West Ham go past them in terms of stadium capacity.

Spurs will soon relegate Newcastle United to seventh highest and Everton are also a club looking to potentially build a ground bigger than St James Park.

All of these clubs see expanding their fanbase as far as possible as being the only way to try and compete in the future.

Meanwhile, if Newcastle do get promotion, they will be condemned to always being constrained by a fifty two thousand capacity that they could fill most weeks in the second tier.

Not exactly something that suggests Mike Ashley has any interest in long-term success for the football club.

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  • PercyArcade

    Ashley shows his true colours – and they ain’t black & white . . .

  • Peter

    Ashley has never been interested in the long-term success of the club…and never will be. Perhaps the student flats could be knocked down some time in the future after Ashley has finally sold up? It’s not as if we’re short of them in Newcastle….

  • Rich Lawson

    If he wants to increase capacity get some standing room in the Leazes again ?

    • mentalman

      raise the pitch and sink the seats, we’d easily get two additional rows around the whole stadium

    • It’s bobbi fleckman

      See the fans forum notes, the club seem open to the idea of safe standing / rail seating (they met with Celtic recently) but it’s not happening unless legislation changes.

  • mentalman

    this has been done to death, the mentioned feasibility study which i have a copy of determined that it wasn’t feasible to extend the stadium above the metro station. It would not be possible to use the type of foundations required for the stadium in such close proximity to the metro line. The suggestion was to look into the possibility of re-routing the metro line and therefore it is not financially viable to extend the stadium over into the car park. The report also highlighted a number of alternative locations throughout the city and also in Gateshead which the club obviously didn’t like the prospect of.

    • MadMag83

      Whilst the land isn’t being used it’s not making him money. And as the stadium redevelopment is unlikely he’s gone with an alternative plan.

    • It’s bobbi fleckman

      Where does the metro line go after the station (to the west)? does it stay parallel to the Gallowgate end or come even closer to the existing stands? If it’s the latter, that would explain why the Milburn (and the 1988/89 ‘new’ west stand) was built slightly north. It would also explain why the corner capacity has not been exploited.

  • MagpieG

    I’m no expert but the feasibility of extending across into Strawberry Place seems dubious. Would it not be possible to build upwards by putting an second deck of seating above the the current seats at the Gallowgate End, in the same way Liverpool did at the Anfield Road End. Or maybe extending the Gallowgate corner sections. 55/56,000 capacity would bring us broadly back up to the levels of Man City, Liverpool and West Ham.

    • Geordie-7676

      Foundations wouldnt take the weight…..the reason we would need the ground to the rear is because any additional height/weight would need to be distributed vertically and horizontally to take the load – same applies to every stand in the stadium!

      • MagpieG

        Thanks for that mate, makes sense I guess. I just think there has to be some way to put 2-3000 extra seats around the stadium without building that far out to Strawberry Place. Even knocking down the East Stand and building something in a different style that held more but didn’t encroach on the listed building. Dropping the pitch to allow more rows at the front of all 4 stands maybe, because like I said the feasibility of building across the Strawberry Place seems mighty dubious anyway.

        • Geordie-7676

          Dropping the pitch will maybe allow for 2 additional rows, but, unfortunately, this would require a full reset of the under pitch heating as well, which is major major work. Possible, but not in a 3 month period (May – August close season). chances are, seating capacity will never increase at St. James, the only realistic way forward is safe standing, that if successful, could potentially add a further 10k if the safe standing areas are allowed to expand.

        • It’s bobbi fleckman

          The greatest scope for more seats is in the corner of the milburn / Gallowgate. Putting a level 7 on the Gallowgate (even if there was no Metro station) would not add too many seats as you will note, the Gallowgate goes back further than the back of the mid levels of the Milburn stand.

          The business solution would be to add 2-3 levls of exec boxes to the Gallowgate and add height of an additional level which does not go back as far as the Leazes and Gallowgate. That way, the exec boxes and catering can be moved from the Milburn corner allowing the corner to be expanded up.

  • MadMag83

    The unwashed will have a stadium they won’t need in the second tier, perhaps rob some seats and paint them black?

  • Geordie1

    Lets all face it Ashley is a tool he has his own agenda and will never ever make the TOON great again just wait until next summer and see how much £ fatty gives to Rafa for the team that is of course if Rafa puts up with his penny pinching.

  • Delashio

    It was never going to be expanded anyway.

    • Leazesl Ender

      There’s nowt lost then in your eyes then dumdum!

  • Nothingtofear exceptfearitself

    A curse on Ashley….

  • Blackburn1066

    knocked down Ashley with the Metro train then drag his body along Northumberland street so we can all throw bricks at it. Then make the ground bigger, Sorted!

  • mentalman

    Here’s another angle on this saga (one which the Ashley bashers wont like).

    MA acquired said land off the previous owners, who also owned the club during the halcyon days of finishing in the top 3/4 for a number of seasons, cup finals and champions league games. So why didn’t the previous owners extend the stadium at the height of our success and popularity?

    • It’s bobbi fleckman

      You are right, the reason Hall et al built on the other 2 sides is because it was much easier and cheaper to do so. It’s ridiculously expensive to build to that level on the Gallowgate, building flats on the car park makes no difference whatsoever and anyone objective would understand this.

  • It’s bobbi fleckman

    It would make a much more useful ‘Mag’ article if someone spoke with the someone from the architects of the time to understand the real issues here. Some of the theories in the article and in the comments are plain daft.

  • Stephen Paylor

    From what i understand this development does not effect the ability to put an extra 7000 or so seats in the gallowgate, what would be the cost to add the seats? How long would it take to get the money back from the extra ticket sales? would generate maybe an extra 4 million a year so if the timescale to get that money back was less than 10 years then wouldn’t be a bad spend by Ashley in my opinion.

    • It’s bobbi fleckman

      On that basis, you’d need the redevelopment to cost less than £40m (assuming no inflation). I think that’s the point, it’s going to cost far more so the new seats have to create more income or at least free up capacity in more expensive areas to create more income.

  • Leazesl Ender

    A half built monument to constant failure….. shame on the planning committee….