Chris Mort to Review ₤300M Ground Expansion Plans

Newcastle United’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 £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 James’ 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.”

We think that’s very likely to be true – if Newcastle owner Ashley is not interested in this expansion then it will not happen. We’ll just have to wait and see – 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 – 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?



34 comments so far

  • andy

    Jul 4, 2007 at 3:55 PM

    Comment #1

    it makes the east stand look like poo

  • bob

    Jul 4, 2007 at 4:03 PM

    Comment #2

    it looks so stupid they must be able to do summin with the east stand would be amazin if they could make it like a proper arena and have it the same all the way round

  • Rob Kirton

    Jul 4, 2007 at 4:08 PM

    Comment #3

    The East stand will be just fine. We’ve got to live with it. I do however think that the club should move the main pitch side camera positions to the East Stand, showing off the two main stands and hopefully new Gallowgate.

    It would project a better image when beaming pictures all around the world (premiership, cup, internationals whatever).

    I guess the original plan was to have revenues from the property development go towards building the extended Gallowgate. That all made sense to the Halls who were after property developers.

    It may be a bit different for Ashley who seems to be building up sports brands

  • Keep Oba

    Jul 4, 2007 at 4:20 PM

    Comment #4

    They should put some sort of vertical luxury box structure on the east stand that will close up the stadium better and make it look less lopsided. That being said I dont have too much of a problem with the lopsidedness…Old Trafford has a somewhat similar problem with one side. Newcastle is sort of a lopsided team at times, the stadium I think adds to the charm…Its better looking and has way more atmosphere than that garbage Stadium of Blight in that suburb. Plus St.James actually gets filled.

  • Rob Kirton

    Jul 4, 2007 at 4:24 PM

    Comment #5

    Bob / Andy

    If you know Newcastle at all, you will know why it is *almost* impossible to develop the East stand in the same way. The picture gives a clue. The city’s history revolves around just a little more than the football – and these things have to be taken into consideration. If the leazes Terrace gets knocked down, why not then start on Grey street?

    The council put the block on the move into leazes park, and we have probably sunk to much into the existing ground.

    Ceratinly wouldn’t want to move out of the City centre.

  • Steve

    Jul 4, 2007 at 4:24 PM

    Comment #6

    It would look awesome but would be even better if the East Stand also matched up. Unfortunately, the Grade 2 listed buildings will prevent this from happening unless the Minister for Heritage is a Geordie

  • Bw positive

    Jul 4, 2007 at 5:10 PM

    Comment #7

    Wouldnt it make more sense to make the east stand as high as the rest, and instead of moving outwards for more seating, make for the first time, a double deck stand. With huge struts to hold it up both inside and outside the ground, which would result in many seats from standard east section being removed. A tier above tier. The east stand wont have the same depth as the other 3, but height wise, it would look better and offer more seating. Im certain this can be achieved. If not, just lift the roof higher for the sake of it, without using seating. For a new era, I wanna see the park NOT looking like a half finished jobby, which is exactly what it looks like to the rest of Europe.

  • Rob Kirton

    Jul 4, 2007 at 5:15 PM

    Comment #8

    Personally, if further developing the Gallowgate and taking the capacity to 60,000+, I’d just stick a huge scoreboard / video wall *above* the East stand for it’s entire length

  • Geoff Stone

    Jul 4, 2007 at 5:19 PM

    Comment #9

    Sell off St James Park and build an brand new out of town 75000 seater stadium ! Whatever you do to the present stadium it’s still going to look crap with the East side looking like that.

  • Bw positive

    Jul 4, 2007 at 5:24 PM

    Comment #10

    Bob kirton, its a football club not a cinema. Too much, but the idea of a score board, and multiple video screens is on form ! The PA system could be better too.

  • Bw positive

    Jul 4, 2007 at 5:27 PM

    Comment #11

    Totally agree with selling the stadium off. However, it is totally unsound financially. The stadium would go for a fraction of its paid price. A new stadium however would prevent future bloated financial extensions, and prevent limitation. However, this was the topic of 98 which was very promising until some muppet prevented the move to what was the real st james park.

  • WOOF

    Jul 4, 2007 at 5:31 PM

    Comment #12

    Leazes Terrace is a ‘listed’ and can not be demolished.
    The Gallowgate end cannot be extended because the of the Metro station and tunnels that are situated there.
    But anyone who knows anything about Newcastle (or has LIVED there ) would know that Ed,wouldn’t they?

  • Bw positive

    Jul 4, 2007 at 5:37 PM

    Comment #13

    Woof, regarding the east stand, the points they are all putting forward, take INTO account the graded buildings. The gallowgate end can be extended, it already has sufficient plans to do so. The only reason its in doubt, unofficially, is because MA has not given his thumbs up yet. You shouldnt mock ya own kind marra !

  • Graham

    Jul 4, 2007 at 5:39 PM

    Comment #14

    Why dont we all club together for a Glasgow Airport sign, Stick it on those bloody listed buildings and wait for the inevitable? there only full of students after all!

  • John W

    Jul 4, 2007 at 6:10 PM

    Comment #15

    HAHA, GOOD POINT GRAHAM! Thats actually a joke me and my cusin share when walking past them buildings every home game! We need to expand bcos when we win a trophy soon-more fans will flood in = more seats = more money for the club, the gallowgate must at least be expanded, c’mon Ashers keep don’t scrap the expansion plans!

  • Shearer 4 pm

    Jul 4, 2007 at 6:17 PM

    Comment #16

    do not sell the ground it will be fine although it would look better i think too many people are expecting to much from this , we would sell out 75000 every match and we don’t want st,james looking like the riverside or stadium of light, looks cool and unique

  • craig chisholm

    Jul 4, 2007 at 6:24 PM

    Comment #17

    i can not believe that some of you want to sell off st james and move to some out of newcastle heartless new stadium. What a great idea – not. We could get some crap new name like ‘the burger king stadium’ or some shit like that with new sponsers dictating the new name. Look at Arse and their new stadium ‘the emirates’. Christ, the name even refers to an arab nation and not even england. Just wait and see, liverpool are moving out of anfield soon, with their new american oweners their new stadium will be called something like ‘ the walmart stadium’. get a grip lads. No more Anfield, no more Highbury and now you say no more st james. Also the artists impession looks just fine to me. it makes it more even than it is now so whats the problem?? I love the atmophere and i have been going since i was a kid. Its better now than ever before and it will be better again when it holds 60 thousand too.

  • jeff

    Jul 4, 2007 at 6:32 PM

    Comment #18

    Those grade 2 listed buildings at the rear of the east stand draw millions upon millions of tourists into Newcastle, year after year, to marvel at their their splendour and architectural beauty…..BOLLOCKS…..Get them down get a car park in, and do the east stand up! there are more buildings in Newcastle worthy of a grade 2 listing.
    Leaving those buildings standing is criminal. People who say they should be left there, are preventing the city from moving forward. I dont doubt that it is important to remember our heritage,but leaving a mediocre eyesore blocking progression is not the answer. Take some digital pics and hang them in a museum.

  • Keep Oba

    Jul 4, 2007 at 7:03 PM

    Comment #19

    I agree with Jeff….who in Newcastle really likes those buildings? Its not like its the damn train station. Newcastle wouldn’t want to lose out hosting some important tournament games because of some piddly buildings in the way would it? And I love history…love it…but there are plenty of old buildings in England.

  • Sid

    Jul 4, 2007 at 7:13 PM

    Comment #20

    Move the grade 2 listed buildings to Beamish, brick by brick! I’ll help in my own time for nowt!

  • jeff

    Jul 4, 2007 at 7:29 PM

    Comment #21

    The twin towers of wembley were listed buildings and they were demolished to progress a new national stadium.Double standards here i think!!

  • Si

    Jul 4, 2007 at 7:38 PM

    Comment #22

    Keep a city centre stadium, none of the out of town stadium/shopping mall/ sponsored crap eg, McCain, KFC, Kellogs, Ford, okay made those up but I bet thats what they’re called in the US. As for students occupying Grade 2 listed buildings, ha anyone been inside, rat infested, rubbish strewn, damp, is there a case on those grounds for knocking them down. Unless the building were pulled down brick by brick and rebuilt out of town, its been done before with the Elgin Marbles, that would be a job creation opportunity.

  • Ben

    Jul 4, 2007 at 8:43 PM

    Comment #23

    f*&^k itt….. leave the stadium as it is …… and give £300 mil to allardyce….actually no … ohhh f*&^%k it do the expansion !?!?!?! i dont know

  • Rob Kirton

    Jul 4, 2007 at 11:12 PM

    Comment #24

    I am with Craig on this one. Our ground is absolutely unique.

    a) Its a lopsided wonder
    b) It is the only truly city centre ground in the country. When describing it to others I sugest it’s like building the new Wembley at speakers corner in Hide park London

    Boro spent 20 million or so on a mechano kit and put it up in an out of town wasteland site (still that way after 10 years). Sunderland spent a bit more and built something over the river from where the real action is in town, on a disused pit site. We had to spend £55million on the last extension alone, to work in situ and overcome geographical problems. That money is primarily the debt that Ashely is now paying off.

    The move to Leazes Park only 250m North of the current site was ruled out by the council, having Leazes terrace de-listed is very difficult, though I don’t know if anybody has carried out a feasibility study on having the whole thing moved brick by brick onto the edge of the park :0)

    The propsed move into the park was going to give us a stadium a bit like the SOL, half sunken in the ground – holding 55,000. Hell it would have looked like a lot of other grounds only bigger.

    Lets be loud proud and different.

  • WOOF

    Jul 4, 2007 at 11:29 PM

    Comment #25

    BW -Mocking my own kind .who,are you on about MARRA?
    I’m pointing out the inequity of a know -nowt American who tries to pass him self off as a geordie.
    The plans you refer to do NOT take into account Leazes Terrace or the sub -structure of St James Metro station because NO plans have been drawn up and NO planning permission has been granted.If you don’t believe me check at the Civic Centre ,all planning applications and permissions are there for the public to see.Nexus will also tell you the same.You would think if someone wanted to build a huge structure for seating thousands of people over Metro train tunnels,they would know about it -they don’t -I’ve checked-but hey feel free
    The Expansions refer to the now closed S&N site over the road i.e Hotel and casino.
    Everything else was FFS theorising and gobbing off before the season ticket applications hit the front door mat.
    And as for knocking SJP down ,well the site belongs to Newcastle City Council not NUFC .
    Now if you prefer to side with some one who rakes in money from a web site ,PRETENDING to be one of us,then by all means do so.But don’t pull me up for pointing out the bollocks that he puts up here
    Hope you get the chance to read this BW ,he usually deletes my posts for being honest

  • Shaun

    Jul 5, 2007 at 6:52 AM

    Comment #26

    Well if Newcastle win somthing in the next couple of years (FA cup!), we will need a 100.000 seater stadium. As for nocking down listed buildings, i belive the twin towers of the old wembly were listed, that did not stop the southern lot.

  • AndyT

    Jul 5, 2007 at 8:13 AM

    Comment #27

    Personally I think we should compromise. Pay for the Leazes terraces to be dismantled and shipped of to Beamish. They could do with a new stop for the trams. Then we could expand the stadium to about 80,000 and technically get it even closer to the city centre. Whoever was blathering on about what’s next gray street – give me a break. The architecture down gray street is fantastic (1970’s painting looking down to Theatre Royal and on towards dean street hangs over my doon sooth sofa), anyway the gradients to steep to put a football pitch down there!

  • Rob Kirton

    Jul 5, 2007 at 9:30 AM

    Comment #28

    Andy T: It was me “blathring on” about gray street. The simple point (maybe too subtly made) is that both areas are listed. Once you remove the barrier for developing on one , why not the next?

    Woof: Now being fair to the guy who runs the blog. I can’t see how he “rakes in money from a web site” from the web site can be true. Trust me, I work in that business. I could think of ways of monetizing this site and I don’t see any of them at work. Even then they would only bring in shirt buttons

    I also thought that the club now owned or at least had a very long terms lease on the ground (999 years or whatever). It seems strange that the club have bought the land around the ground and plan to develop it, but do not own or at least do not have the right to develop as they wish the ground itself. It’s a bit like owning a great useless doughnut !! Then again nothing would surprise me about the club that is NUFC

  • nonowt

    Jul 5, 2007 at 10:36 AM

    Comment #29

    Don’t get me wrong I’m not pro leazes terrace or leazes park, but a few facts
    Leazes terrace is owned by the University.
    3/4 of it is occuppied by student yes.
    The remainder is privately owned flats … have you never spotted the vast array of sale boards that suddenly go up during the summer vacation when they flog their flats to some poor unsuspecting innocent who doesn’t realise in 6 weeks time his peace will be shattered by student singing, being sick on their car, setting of fire alarms , and generally lowering the tone. Try selling them when its term time and nobody would touch them…
    And it is listed.
    and you can’t simply go up by building on top of the East stand as the terrace has been there for so long they have a law called ‘right to light’ hence the height of the current east stand.
    So the East stand is a non-starter … even if you could de list it, you would still have to convince the university and other resident to sell … and how much wwould that prime plot of real estate be worth … rich Mr Ashley may be , stupid he isn’t… he is not going to spend 10’s of millions or so on land to spend another 10-15million building a new stand, to add say 10000 seats – do the sums yourself the pay back just doesn’t work… so lets be realistic we are stuck with the east stand.
    A move away to out of town would be disasterous both for the club and the city.
    And incidentally did the club not purchase the rights/lease on the land above and around the metro station a couple of years back when the super casino projects were around. So building there is not really an issue…. who’d build on top of and underground station or words to that effect one poster said … well sorry but isn’t the whole of london ontop of tube stations, not to mention of course our own close at home examples such as Monument station, etc.

    Building on and over at the gallowgate end is the only realistic current option

  • AndyT

    Jul 5, 2007 at 11:35 AM

    Comment #30

    Rob, I understood that. I was being too toungue in cheek.
    The “why not the next.” is simple. Each and every case needs to be decided on its merrits. While maintaining herritige and maintianing history is important, so to is prosperity and development. I think you could quite rightly argue that St James’s park and Newcastle united are a fundamental part of the city’s past, present and future, the presence of the stadium in the city centre, while undoubtedly causing some headaches, also acts as a comunity focus. There should be a proper debate as to wether, not only the club, but the city as a whole benefits from expansion in that area and at what cost, becuase there is not really a sensible way to incorporate the preservation of those buildings into the business function of St James Park as a football stadium. That is not comparable to say Gray street, or Percy street (which is also in the leazes protected area) where the architecture (or at least certainly the frontage) can be easilly maintained without impacting the functional use.

  • WOOF

    Jul 5, 2007 at 1:21 PM

    Comment #31

    Rob K
    You’re right about the ‘raking in cash’ reference,I was off on one.

    Pretending to be a geordie ,setting up a site with’ Piss Taker Supreme ‘( A Bilal) and then presenting it all as a jest gets on my thrupennies
    (you will probably not get the references cos Ed censors that I post ,which does’nt comply with his regime)

    NUFC does have a long term lease but it’s just a lease.
    I’d love to see SJP expanded ,I’m only pointing out the difficulties.You saw what happened when we tried to expand into Leazes park.At the time ,it was only used as a dog toilet and by muggers ,tramps and people intent on sexual assault.But still the tree-huggers and that silly bint from Jesmond put a spoke in the wheels-look atLeazes Park now.
    Do you honestly think anyone will be allowed to touch Leazes Terrace.
    Having said that like ,the bonded warehouse on the quayside was listed too,but someone got round that.

  • WOOF

    Jul 5, 2007 at 6:42 PM

    Comment #32


    London was there before the underground,that is why the stations and tunnels are so deep below the surface.Likewise the Metro tunnels under Newcastle were built deep and reinforced to carry the load.St James Metro station and its tunnels did not have to be so deep or reinforced because it
    didn’t have to carry the load of a massive structure above it.
    If you want to build over ST James Metro station the costs of piling around the tunnels and station and subsequent reinforcing of both would be enormous, and thats before you start construction,and thats if it is feasible.A full study has not been carried out.
    As yousaid about the East Stand the sums don’t add up – a none starter
    The land purchased that you refer to, is the S&N buildings opposite

  • Graham

    Jul 7, 2007 at 12:28 PM

    Comment #33

    St. James’ Park is part of the city, its home to every Geordie all across the world. Its pitch is sacred, its where Milburn, Keegan and Shearer played – big enough reason not to move stadiums! Atmospheres in new stadiums are crap, just look at Arsenal, and Sunderland for that! With losing the sponsorship of Brown Ale, lets offically open the Gallowgate into the Shearer Stand, to equal the Milburn Stand. We can expand the Gallowgate and the East side, who ever says we can’t, don’t know geordies, we’ve a unique passion, so we look to benefit the city of Newcastle, so by keeping the ‘listed’ buildings it would not benefit us! Knock them down, improve the city and the club. We could have a capacity of 90,000 to 100,000 sell-out evry week, price then could be cut and made more affordable – St. James’ would be the home of football a ground to make people stand up at take notice, that we are going places! The same design should continue all around the stadium and Ashley has to spend his money to get a squad to match what the stadium tells of what Newcastle United means to all of us Geordies!

  • James S

    Oct 22, 2007 at 6:16 AM

    Comment #34

    I would love to see the gallowgate expansion completed! however looking at the artist’s impression above surely the corners of the east stand could be built up too and without affecting the listed buildings behind!?!?
    Plus if the east stand doesn”t get expanded then at least the stadium would look unique with three huge stands and the east stand baring the name of our beloved football club aross its face!


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