Newcastle United boss’ statement on St James’ Park expansion plans after Champions League ‘reduction’

Newcastle United are continually exploring ways to expand St James’ Park following the return of Champions League football and high-demand for tickets.
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Since Newcastle’s October 2021 takeover, St James’ Park has been virtually sold out for every competitive first-team match the club has played. Tens of thousands of supporters are left without tickets most matches while those lucky enough to watch in person have been in for a treat over the past two years.

Last Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain was the first Champions League match played at St James’ Park in over 20 years. A historic evening of football with an atmosphere that will live long in the memory.

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St James’ Park’s seated capacity has actually been reduced since the takeover as a result of Newcastle competing in Europe’s elite club competition once again. For the Champions League, the club removed seats from the Leazes Stand and replaced them with around 30 fewer, but more expensive, corporate seats in the new ‘Wings’ hospitality area.

There have also been safe standing areas installed in the Strawberry Corner and away sections of the ground.

But the subject of expanding St James’ Park has only gathered momentum in line with the The Magpies’ performances on the pitch.

And it’s certainly something Magpies boss Eddie Howe endorses.

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“I’d love to see it expanded,” Howe said in a press conference. “If it can be done, I’m sure the club will do it at some point.

“That’s very much the club’s philosophy. If we can push things forward and improve things for the supporters, for everybody, the club will do it.

“It’s not a simple process, but we would love to get more supporters inside the stadium.”

What initially seemed almost impossible to do with the club stifled from all angles, is now becoming more feasible. Newcastle co-owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi wants St James’ Park expanded from 52,305 to ‘at least 60,000’ in the coming years while a recent report from The Telegraph estimated that it could reach 65,000 by expanding the East Stand and Gallowgate Stand.

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The listed buildings on Leazes Terrace and right-to-light of residents prevents the East Stand, the smallest of the four stands, being expanded significantly. But various avenues have been explored already including a translucent expansion that would raise the height of the East Stand while also allowing light to pass through.

Another roadblock was Newcastle previously being prevented from expanding the Gallowgate Stand after former owner Mike Ashley sold the Strawberry Place Land next to the stadium to developers. But the club re-acquired the land earlier this year and have already made plans for the site.

A CGI image of the new STACK at St James’ Park.  A CGI image of the new STACK at St James’ Park.
A CGI image of the new STACK at St James’ Park.

The current work at Strawberry Place involves setting up a STACK fan zone for supporters. The fan zone is set for completion in Spring 2024 and has planning permission to remain for the next three years, effectively preventing any significant expansion work taking place on the site for the time being.

Behind the scenes, expanding the stadium is high on the club’s long-term list of priorities along with developing the academy and building a new training ground.

But in the short term, the club will be looking to continue its upward trajectory and ensure Champions League football becomes a regular occurrence.