News this morning that the proposed development next to St James Park will no longer go ahead.
Mike Ashley was looking to sell the lease on land opposite the Gallowgate End, which would have seen any or all of student accommodation, hotels, retail space, replacing the current car parking.
If the development had gone ahead as planned, it would have removed the last realistic chance of St James Park being expanded beyond its current capacity.
However, now the Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) have revealed that the plans have ground to a halt, with developers Tolent no longer proceeding.
It is possible that the Gallowgate could be expanded and take the capacity of St James Park up to around the 60,000 mark.
Which considering United averaged over 50,000 last season when they were nearly relegated, demonstrates the folly of selling a lease and allowing the development of land, that would mean there could NEVER be any future increase in the stadium capacity, even if the team were successful.
This is increasingly bizarre when you see the increasing amounts of money Newcastle, and most other clubs, are now spending in the transfer market.
Added to this, it is clear that NUFC’s competitors see the importance of expanding their capacities to ensure the future health of their clubs.
Newcastle’s St James Park is now only the fourth biggest capacity with the newly expanded Etihad now overtaking it, along with Old Trafford and the Emirates.
Spurs, West Ham and Liverpool are all now in different stages of the process of producing bigger capacities than Newcastle United, with others including Everton also looking to move in that direction.
The NUST Statement
NUST have previously reported our position that it would be wrong to sell the lease on the land behind the Gallowgate End at St James’ Metro car park, to private developers .
Any development should include an extension to the stadium as the club had previously considered in conjunction with the City Council some 8 years ago.
Representatives of the Trust Board met with the proposed developers Tolent and their advisors earlier this year when we were told that the development was due to start in September.
NUST now understand that the proposed development by Tolent is no longer proceeding although we don’t have any further information. If this is correct it will provide an opportunity for the club to extend the ground in accordance with its original proposals.
We all know the question will be why should the club invest in a scheme to increase capacity when we already have one of the biggest crowds in the Premiership?
NUST believes there are wider economic benefits with the potential to showcase the city through closer links between the club, the fans, the city council and the local community.
With their recently stated ambition for future success, thousands more fans will want to watch their football live at St. James’ Park, and will be able to if the club shows that they really do have ambitions beyond mid table.
The Club’s main source of income is from TV deals for which they have to do nothing more than maintain a top eighteen (ED: seventeen?) place in the Premier League, but match-day revenue is an important part of their business plan.
NUST chair Norman Watson said “At a time when other Premier League clubs are looking to extend capacity NUST hope that the club take this opportunity to consider such an option.
Whilst there will be a short term capital cost this would be dwarfed by the long term revenue returns which could be ploughed back into the club. The club themselves recognise the importance of increased match day income and therefore any ground extension will be beneficial to both fans and the owner”.
NUST are writing to the club for further details. We will keep members informed of any further news.
For more info on NUST and how to join go here.