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Opinion

Aston Villa sums up the disgrace of what Mike Ashley is doing with St James Park

3 weeks ago
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I’m setting off for Aston Villa in a few hours.

On a half day at work and then driving down, hopefully set for a third win in three matches.

This fixture has become a bit of a laboured grudge match between the two clubs/fanbases.

However, that was all settled for me when only 15 months after relegating NUFC and taking such embarrassingly great delight in doing so, Aston Villa came to St James Park and were hammered 6-0.

The first home match of the season after promotion and a lovely sunny Tyneside day (as I remember it anyway!), with an Andy Carroll hat-trick, a couple from Kevin Nolan and one from Joey Barton.

I don’t spend a second thinking about Aston Villa apart from when we play them.

I am happy to say we have no connection with them, no similarities, nothing in common.

For anybody who hasn’t been to an away game at Aston Villa, you really should. Then you would most definitely appreciate what you have with St James Park and Newcastle Upon Tyne.

I enjoy reading the comments from away fans on The Mag before each home match, pretty much without fail you get one or more of them saying how much they are looking forward to their trip to Tyneside, best away visit of the season, great city, great stadium location, great city etc etc.

Nobody has ever said this about going to Aston Villa, ever.

The only good thing about the place is the road out of it.

I can honestly say I am looking forward to nothing else tonight, apart from watching Newcastle United play.

The locals are unfriendly at best, the pubs are absolute dives, that is if you are even allowed in any of them. On one trip we got in one pub and they were charging away fans £2 each to stand in their beer ‘garden’, it had more in common to one of those TV programmes showing neighbours from hell, where next door’s garden looks more like the local dump.

Speaking of which, that pretty much sums up the entire area where Villa Park is located and indeed whilst in the distant past it might have had something about it, Villa Park itself has no redeeming features either. Birmingham as a whole has nothing going for it as well.

So it is mission Aston Villa tonight, get in there and get the job done, then hightail it back to civilisation with the three points.

In the bigger picture though, I look at what Mike Ashley is doing with St James Park and it is a disgrace. Whilst Aston Villa is at the very bottom end of places to visit, SJP is at the very top. That won’t change but we are experiencing self-harm.

The dream scenario, now or sometime in the future, would see the Gallowgate End brought up to the height of the Leazes and Milburn with capacity rising to 60,000.

Those were the plans drawn up when NUFC under Hall and Shepherd bought the land opposite. That land needed as a key part of expanding the stadium as part of a wider development but with St James Park at the heart of it.

Instead, for personal profit, not for the club, Ashley has sold the land off and ensured there will never be a 60,000 capacity at St James Park.

Not only that but some horrific looking buildings are going to be part of the development that totally spoils the city skyline and views of St James Park.

So Mike Ashley puts millions of pounds in his pocket and Newcastle fans and local residents see their views ruined AND no chance now of having an increased capacity in the future. Bearing in mind that even with the smallest encouragement, Newcastle United averaged over 51,000 in the second tier only three years ago!

Honestly, it is on a par with what was allowed to happen with Newcastle City Centre in the 60s, the city council shamefully allowing the destruction of so much that had evolved over the years.

Along with Mike Ashley, the city council should hang their heads in shame and in years to come people will realise what a disgraceful decision it was to help Ashley and others profit via the further desecration of the city centre.

One thing people will find out for sure, so many don’t realise what they have got until it has gone.

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