SWANSEA, WALES - OCTOBER 04: Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley chats with managing director Lee Charnley before the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Newcastle United at Liberty Stadium on October 4, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The owners of Newcastle United will soon celebrate the two-year mark since the takeover in just 23 days.

It is stating the blatantly obvious, but this football team is totally different now.

A few losses in recent tense games have no impact on that.

The contrast with what transpired during Ashley’s 14+ years in power has made the changes—both on and off the field—all the more obvious.

But I must express the query or worry that has been circling in my head: Are the Newcastle United owners tempering their ambitions?

By the way, none of this is about money spent, or not spent, on players. Even though all the ‘big six’, or the other six of the ‘big seven’ (whichever way you want to put it), did all spend more this summer than Newcastle United, some of them massively doing so (plus FFP restrictions as well).


(Table from Sporting Intelligence showing spending up to 10.30pm on deadline day)

Instead, I’m discussing topics that the Newcastle United owners were frequently discussing both before and during the takeover.

massive infrastructure-related initiatives in particular.


My attention is on the brand-new cutting-edge training facility and the greatly expanded St. James’ Park.


We were informed very soon after the takeover in October 2021 that the current training facility was unfit for Premier League use and that some money will be spent to bring it up to par. At the same time, several potential locations for the cutting-edge new training complex that would include many extra features in addition to just a place for the players to train had been identified. This complex would rival anything at any other top club, help Newcastle United draw in the best players, and enable the team to compete at the highest level in the long run. It’s a matter of deciding which of these places would be ideal, then getting started.


Now two years into life under the new Newcastle United owners AND considering they had a minimum two year lead up time before the takeover was approved, to be making plans. I do find it interesting that there has been absolutely nothing since then.


The work has been done to get the (temporary?) current training ground up to an acceptable mark but the state of the art new complex, absolutely nothing.


Bearing in mind that even if a planning application for a location was revealed today, we are still then talking years before any new state of the art training complex would be completed.


The fact is as well, whilst it isn’t talked about / analysed by the media whatsoever. Surely the main (only?) reason that the Saudi Arabia PIF partnered with the Reuben family, was exactly because of their expertise and knowledge in this area. As the richest family in the UK, their wealth of the Reubens has been (literally!) built on massive construction / development projects, many of which are in this region, specifically Newcastle Upon Tyne and the close surrounds.


Much talk of potentially numerous other business / investment / development opportunities for the Saudi Arabia PIF in the north east, as well as what is happening specifically with Newcastle United.


Anyway, the bottom line is that two years after takeover, four years after starting the buying process, nothing has happened at all, in terms of setting this new state of the art training complex in motion.


Have the Newcastle United owners decided to rein in those ambitions, just make do with the improvements at the current training facility and get by with that?


This isn’t a criticism of the Newcastle United owners, instead just wondering if these big important projects to help make NUFC a competitor for anyone, have been scratched off their plans?


Which brings me to another massive project, one that is far more important, in my opinion.


Have the Newcastle United owners decided against trying to significantly increase the capacity of SJP?

St James' Park Newcastle United

As I said above, there was the couple of years of planning (for once the takeover happened) time available before the takeover was approved AND we are now more than 23 months into this current Newcastle United owners era and nothing has been started, in terms of planning applications, or anything said by the club’s hierarchy / owners, in terms of whether anything is going to happen.

Whether that be (hopefully) a significantly expanded St James’ Park, or a new stadium at another location.


I assumed that long before the takeover happened, the then prospective new Newcastle United owners would have looked into exactly what would be possible in terms of expanding St James’ Park. Then if that wasn’t possible, looking at what then the options would be of building at a new location as close as possible to SJP.


Plus, as I said above regarding the state of the art training complex (and other potential investment / development opportunities), the Saudis having partnered with the Reubens, who have become incredibly rich on the back of countless construction projects, many of them in Newcastle / on Tyneside.


They (the Reubens) will have the top architect / planning expertise on tap and I think they will absolutely know what is and isn’t possible by this point and would have known at very latest, very soon after the takeover. Yet absolutely nothing made public, no planning applications put in.


This is of course to a backdrop that even once any planning application was put in, if there was to be any major expansion of the SJP capacity, almost certainly at the Gallowgate End and hopefully to an extent on the East Stand as well, then it would still take a number of years from that point for any significant expansion work to be done.


One fear I have, is that (whatever might have been planned initially, if at all) maybe the plan now is to simply keep the St James’ Park capacity as it is. Or at best, only increase it in minimal ways that will add relatively few extra seats with a minimal spend.


It is simple economics and a concept that so many business people would go for.


If you keep the supply (number of tickets) lower, then you can charge a lot more, because so many more fans want the tickets, compared to how many available.


If St James’ Park, or a stadium on a new site… had a capacity of 60,000, 70,000, 80,000, then more tickets to go round and it limits how much you can charge, unless you want to risk unsold tickets.

St James' Park Newcastle United

For those buying tickets match by match for Premier League games, the standard adult price is now a minimum of £44 to sit in the Leazes and Gallowgate.

Whilst season ticket holders were offered a three game Champions League package that cost £55 per ticket (£165 for the three), so any Champions League tickets for members (and general public?) are going to be £55 or higher.


Whilst season ticket holders were also offered the chance to sign up for schemes that will guarantee League Cup and FA Cup tickets if NUFC are drawn at home this season, those prices also higher than what Newcastle fans had been paying in recent years.


With the current St James’ Park capacity, every single home match has been sold out since the new Newcastle United owners took over.


I really hope that the Newcastle United owners are going to absolutely ensure that our stadium can get as many fans in as possible, that it will be made as big a capacity as is humanly / architecturally possible.


Tickets are so hard to come by and the fans of the future need to be able to get in as well.


I am confident that this will still happen BUT until we get the evidence that plans are being put into motion, that small doubt in my head will remain.


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