St. James' Park is the oldest existing stadium in North-Eastern England and one of the most unique football grounds in the world. Will it be a future fortess after the latest Newcastle takeover?
This is not a fairy tale or a script for a film, although we all still remember the story about the brave Newcastle player - Santiago Munez. Latest Newcastle takeover completed by the Saudi-led group acts as the symbol of the potential new era of the club from Newcastle upon Tyne. A £300 million purchase is a serious step to bring the Magpies to the top football scene, including fighting for the Premier League title and UEFA Champions League play-off stage.
Obviously, we are not here to follow the rumours about the future multimillion transfers, rather to deliver important updates about the club’s home. Already in 1905 St. James’ Park had the capacity of 60,000 people, mostly thanks to the stands having standing room. Today, the venue can host up to 52,354 people. We all have to wait a while for the future activities of the new owners, but we are sure to get a lot of news and improvements related to the stadium.
Not only for club football
Clubs' attendances have been patchy during the Mike Ashley era, with great numbers of fans staying away from the stadium. Based on the data from worldfootball.net, Newcastle is ranked 7th with 49,328 fans when we consider an average attendance for the current phase of the Premier League season. The need for stadium expansion is obvious.
Beside club football, the venue has also been used for international football, including the 2012 Olympics. At that time, St. James’ Park hosted six games, including one quarter-final with a clash between Brazil and Honduras. What is more, it witnessed the rugby league Magic Weekend, rugby union World Cup, Premiership and England Test matches, charity football events, rock concerts and reality shows.
Its current, unique shape is the effect of local conditions. The club was seeking permission to build a brand new ground nearby, but that proposition was widely protested by residents. Having no better alternative, the Magpies decided to redevelop current stands, building an extra tier over two of them and one corner. This made one part of the stadium significantly larger than the rest. Thanks to this asymmetrical expansion it now boasts Europe's largest cantilever roof over the higher part of the stands.
Naming rights dispute
When it comes to building the new power in the world of football, we also should focus on commercial success. The new board of managers should remember the story from 2011. At that time, the club sold the rights to rename the venue to Sports Direct. As a result, the facility became Sports Direct Arena, but the fans’ protests were so loud that it was necessary to rethink the decision.
Deal led by a Saudi Arabian consortium was confirmed on October 8, 2021. As a result, the Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media became the official owners of Newcastle United.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who led the acquisition, is estimated to have a personal fortune of around £13 billion ($17.6 billion), which would place him just behind Manchester City supremo Sheikh Mansour on a list of the Premier League’s richest owners.
Author: Karol Tatar