Strawberry Place – Land on Lease
At a time when a number of Premier League clubs are actively preparing to increase stadia capacities NUST is disappointed that Newcastle United is seeking to dispense the long lease it has on land at Strawberry Place, thus threatening any future ground extension of St James’ Park.
Given attendances remain at c. 50K, despite the current regime’s poverty of ambition, there is no doubt a successful team would attract even bigger match-day support, increase match day revenues for the club and have a positive impact upon the city centre economy as well as the make St James’ Park a potential stadium for a European final.
The club is due to announce massive profits and income will increase massively with the new TV deal. Thus there seems little reason to sell off the lease at present for a relatively small amount when it could have such a catastrophic impact upon the future growth potential of Newcastle United FC. NUST has a copy of an independent consultancy report commissioned by the club shortly before it’s sale to Mike Ashley that clearly demonstrates that an extension to the Gallowgate End was being considered by the club and in engineering and construction terms was viable.
Any development of that site which is not cognisant of the future expansion of St James’ Park will end any hopes of further extending the club’s historic home. NUST has made representations to both the City Council and the proposed developers and note that ‘the development’ is due to be considered by the Council’s scrutiny committee this week. According to reports in the local media the ‘call in’ relates to a possibility that the land may be used to construct student accommodation.
A development that could be located on any number of alternative sites in the city of less strategic value. Representatives from The Trust Board have agreed to attend a meeting with the developers later this week and will impress our views regarding the site to them. Ideally NUST would wish the club to retain the benefit of the lease to allow for future expansion of the ground but if the land is to be developed in any way, then NUST would wish any development to be sympathetic to any future extension.
This is what NUST representatives will be expressing strongly to the City Council and the developers. When the ground was extended from 36k to 52k there was some doubt as to whether or not attendances would reach capacity.
The loyal fans of Newcastle United have proved they will support the club and NUST is in no doubt that a successful Newcastle United would attract crowds to justify a further extension of the ground beyond 60,000. We should always have the potential to grow.