Newcastle Unitedâ€™s major expansion plans that were announced last April are said to be part of the strategic review of the club being carried out by Newcastle Vice-Chairman Chris Mort on behalf of new owner Mike Ashley.
This story was reported in Chronicle Live last Saturday so we’ll take a look and make our own analysis of the story.
Newcastle United Owner Mike Ashley
The Â£300M expansion plans would create more than 1,500 jobs in the area and include the building of two hotels, a conference centre, apartments and offices. It would also include the expansion of the football ground to 60,000 by increasing capacity by at least 8,000 at the Gallowgate End on land above St Jamesâ€™ Metro Station. This story was in the Chronicle Live last Saturday.
Former Newcastle Director Bruce Shepherd, brother of chairman Freddy, was apparently the project manager for the expansion plans and a source close to the club told the Chronicle Live last Saturday:
Now that Bruce Shepherd has gone and Ashley has launched his review of Newcastle United, the expansion could never happen.
A lot of work was starting to be put into the plans, with lots of discussions with planners and architects taking place.
But it all could come to nothing if Mr Ashley decides he is not interested.â€
We think that’s very likely to be true â€“ if Newcastle owner Ashley is not interested in this expansion then it will not happen. We’ll just have to wait and see â€“ but we do think Mike Ashley will be interested in at least expanding the capacity at St. James’ to 60,000. This would both generate more income for the club and also make the ground even better than it is right now. Mike has already indicated he wants improvements to the ground and training facilities so we think this is likely to happen. We would also think Mike would want to do this by 2012 when Newcastle is one of the football sites for the next Olympic Games in London.
Artist’s Impression of Expanded St. James’ Park
A key part of the plans was the building of a major 2,500-seat conference center, which would be the largest in the North East – in addition to the building of two luxury hotels. We think this part of the plans is probably under more threat than the expansion of the ground capacity. This part may be more positive for the City of Newcastle than the Newcastle football club. But we’ll have to see what happens â€“ we don’t even know yet whether Mort will be in favor of the complete plans or not.
Comments welcome – would you like to see the whole expansion still take place?