The move in late 2019, which was a response to falling attendances, came following a backlash against the departure of Rafa Benitez – and the controversial appointment of Steve Bruce.
Newcastle lost thousands of season-ticket holders during Mike Ashley’s time as owner, the latter years of which were punctuated by protests and boycotts.
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Now, many of those fans – and many, many more – want to get back into St James’s Park following a change of ownership late last year.
And a promised general release of new season-tickets this summer had been eagerly awaited by fans keen to secure seats for the 2022/23 season.
The club’s season-ticket sale plan
The club yesterday revealed that a “limited number” of season-tickets, understood to be 1,000, will go on sale on a first come, first basis next week to fans with a “previous purchase history” on Tuesday, June 28.
A club statement read: “Following an unprecedented level of renewals, the club has put additional seats on sale to fans who have bought a season ticket, single match ticket or membership at any point since 1st July 2019.
“Supporters can check if they are eligible to purchase season tickets by logging on to their account at book.nufc.co.uk. Season tickets will be sold on a first come, first served basis. Only one season ticket per supporter number.”
The club is working with its ticket website provider to ensure that the site is robust enough to deal with the expected demand. Tens of thousands of fans are eligible to apply, and thousands queued online yesterday to check their eligibility.
Why such a small sale?
The number of season-tickets holders has not been revealed by the club, though the Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) was told a couple of years ago that the figure stood at 30,000.
Even taking into account need to keep at least 5% of tickets for non-season-ticket holders, corporate tickets and 3,000 away fans, there’s clearly scope to issue more new season-tickets.
So why has the number been capped at 1,000? The club’s caution amid this “unprecedented” demand is seemingly for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there is a lot of price disparity with season-ticket holders on different long-term deals. Going forward, the club intends to look at a more harmonised pricing structure as supporters gradually come off these deals.
United will also examine the possibility of installing safe standing, which has been trialled elsewhere.
The club’s new owners – who are refurbishing a number of internal areas this summer – also want to see if the family areas are big enough.
With decisions yet to be made on these issues, some of which could see a number of supporters relocated, the club, it seems, felt it wasn’t the right time to “max out” on season-tickets.
Further season-ticket releases
The club, which consulted NUST before deciding on its plan for this summer, intends to make more season-tickets available in the future.
Newcastle’s owners are also looking at the possibility of expanding St James’s Park, though this will be both difficult and expensive.
In the meantime, the decision to cap the number of new season-tickets will, at least, ensure that there are many thousands of tickets on sale for every home game.