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Council approve Mike Ashley property development that ends hopes of expanding St James Park

4 years ago
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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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