PIF to the rescue of Newcastle United



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Newcastle owners buy back land near stadium Image: Newcastle United

The Premier League club Newcastle United F.C. has secured the land behind their home arena – St James’ Park in Newcastle upon Tyne, England (UK) – back after Mike Ashley (former owner of the club) sold it in 2019.

‘ChronicleLive’ stated that the club’s Saudi-backed consortium have been in talks since the early days of the takeover to reclaim the old land in Strawberry Place. Whether it will be the first stages of increasing the 52,300 capacity remains to be seen.

The Newcastle United Football Club is an English professional football club based in Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear (UK). It competes in the Premier League, the highest level of the English football league system. The club was founded in 1892 by the merger of Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End.

The St James’ Park is a football stadium in Newcastle upon Tyne, England (UK). It is the home of the Premier League club Newcastle United F.C. With a seating capacity of 52,305 seats, it is the eighth largest football stadium in England.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) is the majority shareholder and de facto owner of Newcastle United, with 80 percent of the shares.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. It is among the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world with total estimated assets of $620 billion (£514 billion).

‘ChronicleLive’ further stated that early plans for the reclaimed land are yet to be announced by the club but it has been reported that it could be turned into a fan zone. Increasing the capacity of the Gallowgate End has always been described as a structural challenge due to the foundations of the Metro Station beneath it.

Durham developers Helios Real Estate and Marrico bought the site from billionaire Mike Ashley’s MASH Holdings in a multimillion-pound deal. Ashley then scooped £9m for the sale – much to the frustration of Newcastle fans. It was later sold on to North East property developers High Street Group but then taken over by lenders Reditum Capital when the Newcastle firm ran into well-publicized financial difficulties.

Recently, plans to spend £3.5m of public money on a controversial development on the site were shelved at the last minute. The North of Tyne Combined Authority had been due to cover a “viability gap” in the contentious transformation of Strawberry Place into new flats, offices and a hotel but a decision was deferred at the last minute.

United are yet to comment officially about any potential plans for the land but the sale has been confirmed by its former owners.

A spokesman for Reditum said, “We are delighted to announce that Reditum and Newcastle United FC have agreed to a deal which will ensure that the future development at Strawberry Place (situated to the South of St James’ Park at the Gallowgate End0 will now be in line with the plans of the football club. We have been working with the Newcastle United Football Club to agree to a deal which will take the site forward in manner which will allow the club to fulfill both their sporting targets and commitments to the City of Newcastle. Reditum have in our dealings with the football club acted in good faith to ensure that this is possible. We would like to thank everyone at the Newcastle United Football Club along with our professional team, for their commitment in bringing this transaction to fruition.”

London (UK)-based Reditum have been working with the North East property firm Broadoak Asset Management on the site since 2020, extending the ground lease on the land with owner Nexus, the operators of the Tyne and Wear Metro.

St James’ Park’s City Centre location has long been valued by Newcastle fans, emphasizing the club’s position at the heart of the City. But it also puts obstacles in the way of expanding the ground due to its proximity with listed buildings at Leazes Terrace.

Previous club owners have investigated moving to a new stadium but the site behind the Gallowgate offers at least a potential area for expanding the ground’s capacity.

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