Do Newcastle United Own Their Stadium?

By Renata Leite, FootballPredictions.NET, 22:05 22/11/2020

Do Newcastle United Own Their Stadium?

Newcastle United have played their home matches at the St James’ Park Stadium since 1892. The iconic venue has played host to a number of significant moments for the football club. Many big football clubs own their stadiums, so what about the Magpies?

At the time of writing, Newcastle United don’t currently own St James’ Park. The current owners of the stadium are Newcastle City Council, who own the freehold of the site. 

The Magpies’ often criticised owner, Mike Ashley, has never owned the stadium either personally or as part of his purchase of the club. The Sports Direct mogul has been looking to sell the club in recent years, but to no avail. 

Besides club football, St James' Park has also been used for international football, the 2012 Olympics, the rugby league Magic Weekend, rugby union World Cup, Premiership & England Test matches. It's even been used for rock concerts, and as a set for film and reality television. 

St James’ Park has a capacity of 52,305 and was opened in 1892.  The stadium was expanded between 1998-2000. 

It acts as a focal point for a footballing-mad city, with the ground almost full each week. Fanatical Magpie fans pack into the stadium and create one of the most impressive atmospheres in English football. 

Expansions Under John Hall Ownership

Up until the early 1990s, plans under different owners to expand the stadium hadn’t taken off. Plans were limited due to off-field disputes, and financial troubles due to poor performances on the pitch. In January 1992, a consortium led by Sir John Hall took over the club, with himself appointed as chairman. 

Due to the success Kevin Keegan brought to the club as their new head coach, Hall used his experience and expertise in property development to invest heavily into expanding the stadium. 

In 1993, the Leazes End stand that had been demolished and not fully rebuilt was finally completed. It was renamed the Sir John Hall stand prior to Newcastle’s inaugural Premier League season.

The Gallowgate End was rebuilt, the Milburn Stand modified, and a new pitch, drainage and flood lights were installed. With all four corners filled in with seating, by 1995 the stadium had reached a capacity of 36,610

Freddy Shepherd Era Brings Further Expansions

In 1997, Hall stepped down from his role as chairman and was replaced by fellow board member Freddy Shepherd.

After plans to relocate and build a new stadium were scrapped, new developments were proposed to expand St James’ Park to 52,000 capacity stadia.  These developments increased the capacity to approximately 52,143. The construction was completed in July 2000 at a cost of £42 million. 

Mike Ashley’s Takeover Sees A Disastrous Name Change

After years of plans and rumours that Ashley was preparing to rename the stadium in accordance with his business, Sports Direct, the club announced in 2011 that St James’ Park would be officially renamed the Sports Direct Arena. 

The reasoning behind this change was to ‘promote a sponsorship opportunity’ for other companies. Ashley also cited that the name ‘St James’ Park’ was not commercially attractive for potential investors. 

Prior to the official name change, in 2009, plans to rename the stadium were met by protests from angry supporters, including the tabling of the early day motion in Parliament.

A week later, the club clarified that the move would not involve the loss of the name St James' Park altogether, citing the example of '[email protected]' as a potential stadium rights package. 

In October 2012, payday loan company ‘Wonga.com’ became the club’s main commercial sponsor, while purchasing the naming rights of the stadium. The company then subsequently announced that they were changing the name of the stadium back to St James’ Park. 

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