'One man to blame': Newcastle United fan group points finger at Mike Ashley
A Newcastle United supporters group has issued a strongly-worded statement after the proposed Strawberry Place development was given the go-ahead.
Newcastle City Council’s planning committee yesterday approved a £120million development on land next to St James’s Park.
A large number of supporters – and the Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) – had objected to the high-rise scheme in the belief that it would hinder future expansion of St James’s Park and change the city’s iconic skyline.
United owner Mike Ashley had sold the land, which he bought with the club 12 years ago, to the developers for £9million.
NUST issued a statement after councillors voted for seven to three in favour of the plans.
The statement read: “Representatives of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust attended a meeting of the Newcastle City Council planning committee as it considered an application for the development on land adjacent to St James’ Park on Strawberry Place.
“We maintained our objection as previously submitted, highlighting significant concerns over impacts on the future potential of Newcastle United, as well as impacts on our skyline with views of the iconic St James’ Park to be lost forever.
“In our submission, we emphasised the international significance of St James’ Park, and noted a comment by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who described St James’ Park as a sporting citadel, dominating the skyline and the heartbeat of the city.
“The planning committee decided to approve the development by seven votes to three.
“We will now consider our position going forward, and will discuss our next steps at a board meeting. We will communicate our plans with our members following this meeting.
“We must reiterate that there is only one man to blame for this situation. Most clubs are buying land around their stadium to safeguard its future, for commercial purposes or for stadium improvement works.
“Strawberry Place could have been used to develop a Newcastle United hotel, museum, commercial development, fan area or other commercial development for the benefit of Newcastle United while safeguarding St James’ Park.
“Instead, the lease has been sold on, with one man making a multi-million pound profit.
“That money could, and should, at the very least, have been reinvested into Newcastle United.”