Newcastle United Supporters Trust can confirm that its application to have St James’ Park listed as an Asset of Community Value has been successful.
Football research over the years has shown the importance of football grounds to the local community. That is very much the case at Newcastle United where the club have played for over 100 years.
St James’ Park holds memories for generations of supporters and is one of the focal points of our community. Its importance to Newcastle United is known throughout the world.
Our support comes from a true cross section of the Newcastle United supporting community regardless of age, sex, religion, race – drawn together by our love of Newcastle United through the good times and bad times.
The introduction of the Localism Act 2011 provided an opportunity for football fans to protect their stadiums and have them classified as an ‘asset for the community’.
Indeed Minister Eric Pickles stated; ”FOOTBALL STADIUMS ARE NOT ONLY THE HEART AND SOUL OF EVERY TEAM, THEY ARE ROOTED IN AND LOVED BY THE NEIGHBOURHOODS THAT SURROUND THEM.”
Following successful high profile applications to protect grounds such as Old Trafford and Anfield, amongst many others, NUST, supported by national fans organisation Supporters Direct, submitted an application to have St james’ Park listed as an ACV.
We are pleased to report the application has been approved, recognising St James’ Park and the history surrounding it, as an asset to its community.
With a Newcastle City Council spokesman saying: “We confirm that Newcastle City Council has determined that St James’ Park is an Asset of Community Value. ”
Regardless of ownership of the football club, St James ‘Park will always be recognised as the home of Newcastle United, our club.
The listing is five years and also includes a right to bid should St.James’ Park be put up for sale. A right to bid can be lodged by the group concerned within six weeks, with finance secured in a period of up to four-and-a-half months.
It means St.James’ Park can’t be sold without the local community being told about it, and them being given the opportunity to bid for it themselves.
One of the positives we’ve always had as Newcastle fans is that whoever owns the club doesn’t also own the land, with the Freemen of the City retaining the title of the land.
So making St.James’ Park an ‘Asset Of Community Value’ is at the moment mainly symbolic, though as football fans you never know what is around the corner and one day the Freemen may change their position, for whatever reasons.
The Trust’s highlighting of concerns over the selling of a lease on land opposite the stadium is a case in point, in terms of looking at our club on a long-term basis.
In March this year it emerged that Newcastle United had placed the lease on a 1.62acre plot of land on Strawberry Place, next to St James’ Park, up for sale. If the lease is sold the land could be developed into hotel and/or student accommodation. This patch of land currently allows for the future possibility of expanding St.James’ Park at the Gallowgate End. However, if the land was developed then it would remove all realistic possibility of expanding the stadium capacity, no matter what potential changes of circumstances in the future.