‘Create a really world-class stadium’ – Newcastle owners ‘St James’ plan may help with transfers – Ciaran Kelly


St James’ Park will not be silent for long. It is now just 47 days until Newcastle United face Nottingham Forest on the first opening day of this new era when the stadium will rock once again.

For all the issues Newcastle’s owners inherited last year – from a side in very real danger of going down to an outdated training ground – they always knew they had one mighty asset in St James’ and so it proved. Outsiders only had to look at the scenes before, during and after the win against Arsenal last month to realize that something really is stirring on Tyneside. It felt more like a European night as Wor Flags produced their biggest display yet.

Is it any wonder, then, that the owners have ruled out building a new arena? As complicated as an expansion would be, architect Christopher Lee, who has designed more than 30 stadiums on five continents, including the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Emirates and the Aviva, can understand why the hierarchy want to exhaust every possible avenue to increase capacity to 60-65,000 supporters.

READ MORE:Hugo Ekitike’s agent vow as Newcastle transfer talks continue after Borussia Dortmund boost

“The home advantage and literally staying put is tangible and a move to a new stadium is complex and you do, certainly for a period, lose that home advantage,” he told ChronicleLive. “St James’ has got such an incredible atmosphere already. One could only increase that, improve it and amplify it, and create a really great world-class stadium.”

The stadium has not quite been such a fortress, so united, since the days of Sir Bobby Robson and the stats back it up. Eddie Howe, after all, became the first manager since the Newcastle legend to win six top-flight fixtures at home last season.

In fact, Newcastle picked up nearly two-thirds of their points under Howe at St James’. Howe, harnessing that passionate support, lost just two league games at home. Only champions Man City and a Liverpool side chasing a quadruple at the time have triumphed in a league game at St James’ since Howe took charge.


Even Dan Ashworth, who has been watching on from afar, could not help but remark that Newcastle was a ‘monster of a football club’ after the newly-appointed sporting director noted the ‘incredible’ noise at St James’. That noise has been the soundtrack to footage beamed out around the world in recent months and there will be transfer targets keen to sample it.

Howe has already vowed to use that ‘great advert’ to try and attract players and you suspect those scenes in the aftermath of the victories against Arsenal and Leicester City have been witnessed by both Stade de Reims striker Hugo Ekitike and Lille defender Sven Botman. These are two players, aged 22 and under, who Newcastle feel can grow with the club and one day be part of a side which brings European football back to St James’.

Sven Botman has already played in Europe
Sven Botman has already played in Europe

Newcastle have a huge amount of work to do before that is a realistic aim – it is important to remember that this side was fighting relegation not so long ago – but that is the dream that is being sold to players. Bruno Guimaraes, for one, has confidently stated that ‘we’re going to be a big power in world football’ after the hierarchy convinced the Brazil international about their ambitions to not only qualify for the Champions League but, also, to, eventually, win it.

Newcastle have to take small steps before then, like breaking into the top 10 and embarking on a cup run, but any signings made in the coming months and years will be brought in with that journey very much in mind. Whereas two-and-a-half year deals were mainly handed out in January, expect more long-term contracts to be issued this summer as players in their twenties are targeted.

Matt Targett was given a four-year deal after the 26-year-old’s loan move was made permanent earlier this month and even the unassuming left-back has opened up about his hope of one day bringing European football back to St James’. That would have been an unimaginable prospect a year ago.

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