Friday March 17 was a pretty unremarkable date for Newcastle United supporters.

Apart from it being St Patrick’s Day and a good excuse for a few pints of Guinness in the local hostelries of our fine city, there wasn’t much else going on.

But look again at the date. Something seismic happened which could have a big impact on our club’s future.

These events weren’t played out on a football pitch but in a room at Newcastle Civic Centre, at the council’s planning committee.

A decision was taken to allow a property developer to build two student blocks of flats on the site of the current Gallowgate car park, just next to St James Metro station. Nine and eleven storey buildings will appear on the site. The car park will be gone.

There is also likely to be a further planning application to construct a 17 storey tower block on the same piece of land. The march of the skyscrapers is well and truly underway.

Any future plans to increase the capacity of the Gallowgate end now appear to be scuppered. Mike Ashley will seemingly benefit from the redevelopment of the area, not the football club.

The report claims there is still scope to expand the ground but these claims appear to be hotly disputed. A forest of buildings right on Strawberry Place will surely leave little room for the kind of space needed to add an extra tier of seats on to the adjacent stand.

My main annoyance is the potential of an expansion looks to be dead. Mike Ashley may not own NUFC in ten years time. A new owner might want to actually look at expansion, given the clutch of other big name clubs who are adding capacity or moving to swanky new stadia.

The arrival of these buildings will mean we’re left to rue a missed opportunity. A capacity of 52,000 is not to be sniffed at but just think what it could be. A capacity of over 60,000 would be a magnificent sight and with the right strategic approach, those seats could be filled.

Extra revenue right there. A ground good enough to even bid for a few UEFA showpiece finals? They tried for the Europa League Final in 2008 but lost out to Manchester City’s commonwealth games conversion, now the Etihad.

I appreciate that planning applications can only be rejected on material planning grounds but I am still frustrated with the decision. The iconic views of St James Park from across the city just won’t be the same.

The flip side of the argument? Many will say 52,000 seats are more than enough and any redevelopment of the ground would cost tens of millions of pounds, money which could be used to buy new and better players.

One of the last actions of Hall and Shepherd era was to look into the feasibility of adding another 8,000 seats onto the Gallowgate. It would have required Strawberry Place to become an underpass, with a massive stand on the same sort of scale as the redeveloped Milburn and Leazes, completed in 2001.  We already know that the East Stand cannot be looked at due to the proximity of listed buildings.

There was a will to make this scheme happen back in 2007, if not the finance, but then a few months later Mike Ashley happened and the rest is history.

Okay, okay, we’re getting a bit doe-eyed here. It’s a romantic notion to see another  redevelopment at St James’ Park. Maybe in reality we wouldn’t fill the seats. We may never get to find out now, and that’s such a huge shame.

British summer time

The clocks going forward. The light nights are here. There are just eight games to go. If this season has been like running the 10,000 metres then the bell has sounded for the dramatic final lap. Who can find the kick to get around the last bend and down the home straight?

It will be Newcastle United, if the manager can make the necessary tweaks to deliver some much-needed home wins. Has he been too cautious at St James Park? I think he has.

What’s to fear? Let’s use these last home games to really go for it. Throw the kitchen sink at our opponents. We sat back against Fulham, in what was a brainless display, and we got well and truly done over.

Rafa needs to find a way of getting the team firing from the very first whistle when the onus is on us to come out and win the game in front of our own fans.

The next few weeks will have real drama in them. It may need a health warning. There will be nerves aplenty, no doubt, but we are well placed.

There was probably mental fatigue from the Herculean efforts at Brighton and Huddersfield. They have now had a good break.

It’s time to finish the job as fast as possible. The denouement of a marathon season is here.

You can follow the author on Twitter @DavePunton

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

  • MadMag83

    Need to be secure in top flight football before any owner will look at increasing capacity anyway. If in the future we are challenging near the top then there’s always a possibility of a new stadium.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      where ?

      • MadMag83

        Somewhere out of town perhaps. The last time the idea came up it was Leazes Park…..

        • It’s bobbi fleckman

          Again, it’s cost. Reality is, we don’t fill SJP every week unless we’re doing well (as now). IF we were filling it, the logical thing would be to put up (what are currently, very reasonable) prices.

          To build a 60-65,000 seater on castle Leazes now, it would cost a hell of a lot – The Emerites cost £400m ten years ago so again, as few as 7,500 seats for £1/2m and the cost of dismanteling SJP will not come cheap.

          • MadMag83

            Could do with hosting some sort of athletics event, that way they build everything then sell it to the club at a discount, like West Ham and Man City.

          • Albert Stubbins

            only athletics Ive seen is videos of paddy conroys fatha getting chased across the pitch against forest- does that not count? never thought that day could be potentially worth so much to NUFC’s long term future!!

          • Damon Horner

            Agreed. We’d have to be a European power and fill a ground of around 80k plus to even be considered. Like you say we don’t always consistently fill the 52k and we’re not at the level yet to suggest we’re beyond a 52k seater stadium.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    So the Scumbags at the council betray the city once again in the pursuit of money they make good bedfellows for Fatso

    • Jimblag23

      I agree. Why would the council back this when extra people coming to the city will boost local economy.
      Plus the football club is one of the most famous things relating to Newcastle so why not back it as much as possible.

      • It’s bobbi fleckman

        Errrr, because it’s not connected. It’s a kin to the council denying you building an extension on your house on the basis Newcastle United may expand the stadium.

    • It’s bobbi fleckman

      I’m no fan of Labour local authorities but it’s not their role to deny planning on the basis of a neighbour may one day want to build something else.

  • mentalman

    New news must be slow today we went over this earlier in the week.

    Instead of slagging off MA why not slag of Messrs Shepherd & Hall who you’ve already said looked into it some 16 years previously when the club was in a far better position than it is now and passed up on the opportunity.

  • Wor Monga

    Look who exactly loses any sleep about this…except yourself and your green alto-ego?…the time to increase the seating capacity dramatically was many years ago when every game was sold out well in advance of the next season, but now who nowadays really cares?

    …The real question could be why back then were the ‘backend’ of the Leazes Terrace and St James St ‘heritage listed’ to the point of denying the stadium to be brought up to its proper shape and size?…

    …the planned modern stadium was to be a real life example of some living Newcastle history whereas the rear side of the Leazes Terrace which faces it is ‘arguably’ nothing more than another ‘relatively nice’ example of a Georgian brick nonentity…

    …nice enough to keep on paying for the upkeep perhaps, but how much of our real old Tyneside heritage has already been bulldozed over simply because it was deemed either too industrial or not really ‘genteel’ enough quality for those in the Town’s planning committees!!!

    • Leazesl Ender

      Are you thick or something?

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        of course he is

        • It’s bobbi fleckman

          Ha ha, at least leave a few minutes before logging on as your other character!!!!

    • Jezza

      I could be wrong about this but I believe the east stand at St James’s Park is also a listed building due to its (at the time of construction) ground breaking cantilever design.

      • It’s bobbi fleckman

        I don’t think that is right, the construction was not that unusual as I think it was the same type of construction as that of Parc Des Princes in Paris. If you are old enough to remember the old programmes of 1977/78 ish, the inside cover had a model of how SJP was to be developed (East stand wrapping around the leazes end) and it looked identical to the recently constructed Parc des princes.

        Although the stand could be reconfigured, the issue is allowing light to Leazes Terrace which is why the roof of the east stand is an the angle it is which is unusual in that it’s rather inefficient at providing the spectators cover

        • Jezza

          Yes I do remember those match programmes with the model of the never to be built extension of the East stand at the Leazes end. I also remember how spectacular the East stand looked when it was first completed. I just couldn’t understand how the roof stayed up. There was certainly nothing like it anywhere else in the UK at the time. As I said I could be wrong but I think it was made a listed building on those grounds.

          • It’s bobbi fleckman

            The East stand looked amazing when it stood alone. AS you say, when the Leazes’ wooden top was taken down, the roof defied gravity but was spectacular in that the roof was bigger than the actual seating area. Viewed from the old coach station (my usual arrival point) it looked great.

            I hope it’s not listed, that’s council interfering. Stadium design has come on. The gallowgate end is far less interesting as a meccano identikit (see Elland road, SofS) stadium BUT it’s more effective than the East stand.

  • It’s bobbi fleckman

    It’s a bit of nonsense, the cost of rebuilding the Gallowgate to give an additional 7,500 seats is said to be around £1/2bn, £66,666 per seat, with a season ticket at £550 that takes 120 years to break even (assuming no cost of borrowing).

    If the car park was needed as part of the stadium, the height would be the height of the Eiffel Tower and the additional capacity would be over 400,000 people!

    Expansion does not require the car park but is very expensive, this is why it was not built upon in the first place.

    A more modest redesign which matches the height and style of the ‘big’ stands is possible but still difficult to justify.

    • Taz

      You say it’s said it would cost £1-2 billion for an extra 7500 seats seems a tad high, I know it was a while ago but the whole Emirates project was only £350mill and Wembley £798million. Who the fk are you getting to build it?????

      • Jezza

        Yes £1-2 billion, ha ha. That’s an awful lot of backhanders.

        • It’s bobbi fleckman

          1/2 a million, half a million

      • It’s bobbi fleckman

        No, not 1-2bn but half a billion as in £500m was the figure mentioned in an article I read. The problem being the Metro line, it takes serious engineering to create the leazes end at that end.

        I’d love someone to do an article with the architects (they were on team valley) who did the Level 7. We may get a bit of a better understanding of why FFS expanded in the manner he did and the problems facing further expansion.

        • Taz

          Glad we have that cleared up 1/2 and not 1-2 it was a bit much :-)

  • Salty

    Expanding the Gallowgate end was just never gong to happen. Being at the bottom of the hill it would have to be enormous and would make the east stand look even smaller than it does now. If we ever wanted a bigger capacity we should have moved. Think If we still had the 36000 capacity now I expect we would have moved given the number of other clubs who have extended/ moved. No way a new stadium could be justified now unless we could guarantee something like 70000 crowd every game, just not going to happen. Opportunity had been there but thanks to the ‘no business on the Moor’ crowd that ship has sailed.

    • It’s bobbi fleckman

      Nun’s Moor / castle Leazes was the way to go but it does not make sense to ditch 53,000 SJP for a 60-65,000 new stadium now. Cost per seat will be prohibitive.

    • Jezza

      I’m glad we’re still at St James’s Park. I would never want NUFC to leave their traditional home.

  • Jezza

    To be truthful I don’t really care about expanding the capacity at St James’s Park. It would only bring in another 10,000 of the new breed of football spectators (as opposed to supporters) who do so much to make the match day atmosphere at our home games so sterile these days.

  • toonterrier

    Humpty Dumpty is never going to sell up as he’s sitting on a goldmine. As long as the ground is full and he doesn’t have to fork out large sums he wont quit. If the manager walks away there’s others ready to jump in to fill the vacancy. Money for nowt. Greedy git.

    • Thefootballerwhocouldfly

      One day Humpty will fall…..

  • Blackburn1066

    If you took the stand over the road at the Gallowgate end it would become a underpass road ( Nice place to drive a B.O.M.B! truck under on match days Booooom! Ok just thinking Health & safe