Amanda Staveley's bold Newcastle United vision explained

It’s about time. For the first time in their history, Newcastle United Women will play at St James’s Park.

Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 4:31 pm

Beckey Langley’s team, pushing for promotion, will take on Alnwick Town Women on Sunday (2pm kick-off) in front of what is hoped will be a sizeable crowd.

Amanda Staveley has wanted to stage a Newcastle Women game at the stadium since last October’s £305million takeover.

Speaking earlier this season, United’s co-owner said: “I’m passionate to get the women's football really moved back into the heart of the club.”

Women’s football wasn’t a priority for former owner Mike Ashley, and a game at St James’s Park, while an longstanding ambition for Langley and her squad, was seemingly unthinkable at the start of the season.

“It’s always been something we’ve hoped for – and been striving towards,” said Langley.

“We probably didn’t see it as a reality two seasons ago, but with the new owners coming in, and injecting that passion and energy towards women’s football, we’re really excited about the possibility, and now it’s here, we’re going to grasp it with both hands.”

Thousands are expected to attend the game, and Langley’s squad – who play their FA Women's National League Division One North games at Druid Park – trained at the club’s first-team facility last night ahead of the Alnwick fixture.

Newcastle United co-owner Amanda Staveley.

“The girls and myself and the staff are so excited to be walking out at St James’s,” said Langley.

“There’s a really good buzz in the camp, probably a bit of nerves as well, because it’s the first time the girls will have played in front of such a big crowd and stadium.”

The team was watched by more than 2,700 at Kingston Park earlier this season, and Langley added: “We’re really excited, and really hope we can beat the 3,000 at Kingston Park.

“That’s why you’re in football – for those goosebumps moments. I can’t wait to stand and see a full stand full of Newcastle fans. It’ll roar the girls on even further. To be honest, I don’t think they need any motivation, they’re so excited, but it’ll help inject that energy into the game.”

Newcastle United Women head coach Becky Langley speaks to her players at the first-team training ground.

Newcastle Women are six points behind league leaders Liverpool Feds with a game in hand.

Whatever happens this season, Staveley is determined to give the team the backing it needs to compete on the national – and European – stage in the coming years.

Staveley met Langley and her players earlier this season, and she quickly made an impression the club’s head coach with her “passion” for the women’s game.

“She’s so genuine, so high energy,” said Langley. “She just wants to help support myself the players as much as possible.

Newcastle United Women. (Pic: Colin Lock)

“I think she’s really excited about having a young female manager who she can help and progress. There’s a real, genuine feel about the way she conducts herself, but really professional at the same time.”

Staveley and husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi will incorporate the women’s team, which has been under the umbrella of Newcastle United Foundation, into the club’s structure.

“They’ve been super supportive,” said Langley. “They understand Newcastle United Foundation have been absolutely fantastic with myself and the players.

“They want us to do well, they want to see success – and enjoy it with us. When we met Amanda, she was just so genuine. It was just little things like ‘where’s the biscuits and cups of tea!’.

“She is just a normal woman with real passion and drive to help everyone succeed.”

The aim is to be in the Women’s Super League, and sporting director-in-waiting Dan Ashworth – who he helped progress Brighton and Hove Albion’s women’s team – will put a structure in place to accelerate their development.

Newcastle United Women head coach Becky Langley.

Champions League football is also a goal, as it is with the men’s team.

“We want to be in the Women’s Super League as quickly as we can,” said Langley.

“Amanda’s ambition for both the men’s and women’s teams is to be winning the Champions League, so there’s really no ceiling on where this club can go for the women’s and the men’s sides. We’re working really hard behind the scenes to make that happen.

“It will take a lot of investment, but it’s all progressive. We recognise we’re still in tier four at the moment, so everything has got to be within context.

“We want to strive to get there as quickly as possible, but it will take that emotional investment and care.

“We’ve not set any strict timescale, but I’d love Newcastle United Women to be in the Super League within five years.”

Does Langley feel under more pressure now given the club’s ambitions – and the increased scrutiny on her and her team?

“We’ve sat with Newcastle United Foundation, who’ve been incredibly supportive of the journey we’ve been on so far, which has been a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears, to be quite honest,” said Langley.

"But we’re just so passionate, and I’ve been striving for this since day one, even before the owners were involved.

"People have been asking, with more people watching and the owners wanting to see success quickly, ‘am I feeling more pressure?’. But I’ve already put so much pressure on myself, it just feels we’re doing the same things – working hard and sticking together.”

What Langley will feel most on Sunday is pride.

“I’ll be really proud, being the first female in the dugout at St James’s Park as manager is just a dream come true,” said Langley. “I’m so proud to be representing this club, but I also feel a bit emotional towards it as well, because we know we’ll be inspiring so many girls and boys in the crowd.”

Cash turnstiles in the East Stand will be open on Sunday, with entry £3 for adults. Admission is free for juniors. Under-14s must be accompanied by an adult. The Gallowgate and Leazes ends will be opened if needed.