Newcastle United plan season-ticket release as fans wait on news of general sale
The club’s fans have snapped up away allocations for the fixtures against Manchester City and Burnley – and the sold-out signs are up for the May 16 home game against Arsenal.
And many supporters are already wondering when they will next get the chance to watch the team.
Getting a ticket, of course, wasn’t usually a problem during Mike Ashley’s time as owner.
Thousands of disillusioned fans walked away during his time in charge, especially in the latter years which were punctuated by boycotts and protests against his ownership.
However, the club’s takeover late last year by an ambitious consortium has changed everything.
The club, at last, is on the up again. Games have again been sold out, and there just aren’t enough seats to meet demand on Tyneside.
And United’s new owners must decide how to proceed this summer once existing season-ticket holders have renewed.
The club, which told the Newcastle United Supporters Trust a couple of years ago that it had 30,000 season-ticket holders, is working on plans for a release of new season tickets.
Existing season-ticket holders have until May 19 to renew their seats, and a club statement, issued late last month, read: “Any seats not renewed by this date will be released for general sale. Information on general sale season tickets will be confirmed in due course.”
Newcastle must decide whether to give priority to those who previously held season tickets – and those with a purchase history.
This would at least ensure that those fans who followed the team during its lean Ashley years get the opportunity to return to watch matches during a hoped-for challenge for European football and trophies.
Premier League rules also state that clubs must keep back a number of tickets for matchday sales.
Rule R.6.9 states that clubs must “promote the availability of tickets by reserving a reasonable proportion (at least 5%) of them for sale to non-season ticket holders”.
United, which famously had a 10,000-name waiting list for season tickets in the 1990s before the stadium was expanded to its present 52,000 capacity, may well choose to keep back more than 5% of tickets for match-to-match sales.
Co-owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi revealed the determination of the club’s new owners to expand the stadium again in an interview earlier this year.
If a relegation-threatened United side can sell out its home stadium game after game, then just how many fans would pay to watch a successful team?
“We’ll definitely look at expanding it,” Ghodoussi told The Athletic in February. “We're working with the city and council to see what we can do. If we can get it to 60,000 or 65,000, amazing.”
It would be amazing, but stadium expansion won’t be easy given that St James’s Park is hemmed in by by the grade-1 listed Leazes Terrace. Land on Strawberry Place was also sold for development by Ashley, though work has not yet begun on the site.
In any case, expansion is a long-term aim. In the meantime, the club, which has to set aside 3,000 seats for away fans, must decide the fairest way to distribute its remaining tickets next season – and that’s easier said than done.