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Newcastle On Brink Of Bold New Era – St. James’ Park Expansion Must Be Retained For The City’s Sake

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“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.”

Bill Shankly

A thriving, successful Newcastle United can be the catalyst for the city of Newcastle upon-Tyne’s economic revival so short term plans for the sale of the land behind Strawberry Place for student flats must be shelved on Friday for the good of the club, city and even entire North-East.

The site in question is prime land in the heart of the city centre and, rather than be sold to the highest bidder, should be used for civic purpose benefiting the citizens of Newcastle upon-Tyne and the community.

The correlation between the club’s success and the city’s economic well-being of the region has long been established and a successful Newcastle United established in The Premier League competing for the title, Cups and in Europe under the world’s most decorated manager, Rafa Benitez, can be the flagship to regenerating the city.

A manager who has won The Champions League with Liverpool and has a history of guiding every big club he manages into the latter stages of the lucrative tournament must be supported not just by the club & its fans but also the city’s leaders due to the economic potential he can unlock in the city through a successful side.

For example, the Manchester News reported “Football nets £330m a year for Greater Manchester’s economy, with 8,500 jobs  supported by the beautiful game.”

And an Infographic published by OneFootball in 2015 highlighted the tremendous impact of a Champions League side to local economies:

“This past season, for example, it has been estimated that thanks to the early exit of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, a combined £4,032,600 was lost for the two cities. The true figures do not assess ticket sales; however, a mind blowing £169,768,300 was generated by the 215 games played in this year’s competition, with some 778,700 journeys made by travelling fans.”

Football is one of the boom industries of the early 21st century and Newcastle, like Benitez, are a Champions League level club playing in The Championship right now ripe for upgrade to their true status.

Recovering the club’s Premier League status by winning The Championship is Benitez’s priority at the moment which alone would massively boost the city’s economy:

The Chronicle reported last year that “a 2013 study into Swansea City’s first season in the top flight estimated Premier League football generated £58m for the Welsh economy…and 400 jobs were created or protected by a campaign in the top division, according to the research by Cardiff University.”

Directly relating to the North-East’s economy:

“recent figures showed football tourism raked in more than £22m for North East coffers.

That is because last year 26,456 overseas visitors came to the North East for a football related-trip, spending an average of £855 per person – which works out at a total of £22,619,880.”

Early reports that St. James’ Park’s potential (and necessary) future expansion when Benitez establishes the club back in The Champions League would not be affected are wide of the mark – its not just a physically bigger stadium that require space but crucial access to it as well as supporter amenities.

Boxing The Gallowgate off with two unnecessary buildings – the city is over run with new student developments – is a short-sighted plan that must be halted for the preservation of the city’s cultural heritage & economic health.

Newcastle is one of the few one-club cities in England and St. James’ Park proudly dominates the sky-line attracting visitors from all over the UK, Europe and the world to England’s most northern city.

As NEXUS travel company have pointed out, the new development would also throw a spanner in the works of long-planned expansion Metro into the city’s West End which will block future bridges to narrowing the city’s economic disparities between richer and deprived areas which are such that a NUFC Fans’ FoodBack was recently set up to harness the power of the Newcastle to helping the West End FoodBank which is the largest in the UK.

And in the post-Brexit economy with its drastically reduced numbers of international students, the likelihood of such luxury apartment buildings being used is also drastically reduced meaning the development could quickly become a white elephant especially due to design flaws disabling easy conversion.

Geographically and economically, it is sheer folly and, football-wise, in an area when comparable clubs like Liverpool, Spurs, West Ham and Chelsea are expanding to 60,000 capacity stadiums or moving to new stadia, it is a complete backwards step that will negatively affect future economic growth.

Make no mistake, a fully-fuctioning Newcastle United which the club will inevitably become again under Rafa Benitez’s complete control with backing can be one of, if not the, biggest clubs in England but also in Europe and the world – a ‘Barcelona of the North’ and Newcastle would reap the economic benefits.

In the 1990s under the governance and ownership of Sir John Hall and The Magpie Group, Kevin Keegan’s side swept from the brink of 3rd division obscurity to within a whisker of The Premier League title then memorably into The Champions League under Kenny Dalglish and Sir Bobby Robson.

Instead, it was Manchester United first who pipped Newcastle then Man City, second, who joined The Champions League gravy train, massively boosting the Manchester economy as the Manchester news reports:

The report estimates the worldwide exposure Man United has given to the city as whole over the past 21 years is the equivalent of £1bn-worth of advertising.

And it adds Man City’s rise to prominence, combined with the ever-increasing popularity of the Premier League around the globe, will deliver an even bigger boost in years to come.

The study states: “It is likely that the advertising value of the clubs to Brand Manchester will increase further in the future; over the next 20 years, this could be worth in excess of £2.5bn.”

Once momentum is going in the right direction at St. James’ Park, advancement can be very rapid and in the 1990s, the stadium was expanded twice in quick succession to first 36,000 then to its present capacity of 52,000.

If Newcastle had won a title or Cup turning into the trophy-winning side it threatened to be under Keegan in the mid-90s & Sir Bobby Robson in the early 00s, then we may be looking at one of Britain’s super-clubs already.

Yet things change very quickly in football and Newcastle United can recover not just the almost-glory days of the last two decades but, under Rafa Benitez’s management, those of its most successful eras in history – the FA Cup winning-decade of the 1950s, Fairs Cup-winning 1969 side & the English-football dominating 1900s.

The best is yet to come for Newcastle United under Rafa Benitez and the city will enjoy the economic ripple effect so it is the long-term not the short-term that must be planned for by both the club & city.

 


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Soccer/Futbol

Birmingham City Fan Jailed for 14 Days for Punching Aston Villa Player

Anthony DiMoro

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27-year old Paul Mitchel, a Birmingham City fan has been jailed for 14 days after he plead guilt to assaulting Aston Villa midfielder Jack Graelish during the derby on Sunday.

Mitchell rushed the pitch and took a swing at Graelish when the player’s back was turned at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s stadium during the Championship match on Sunday.

Mitchell admitted to invading the pitch and has been officially banned from attending any football match in the U.K. for up to 10 years, and was also ordered to pay £350 in total fines.

Graelish made a statement in which he described how he was “shocked and scared” by the attack.

“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,” he said (h/t ESPN). “It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”

“He cannot explain what came over himself yesterday morning,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Vaughn Whistance, said on Monday.

“His initial foolish intention was to go onto the pitch to whip up the crowd. He is certainly remorseful today. He is a man with a partner, they have a 2-year-old together and they’re expecting their second child.”

“This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour,” said a spokesperson for the FA.

“On Sunday we saw two separate incidents, at Birmingham City and Arsenal, of individuals entering the field of play and assaulting players.

“Not only is it an offence to enter the pitch, which could result in a club ban and criminal charges for the individual, but it also puts the safety of the players at risk.

“This is entirely unacceptable and we strongly condemn both incidents.

“We will be working with the clubs, the leagues and the police to discuss what collectively needs to be done to protect players and officials on the pitch.

“In addition, we have written to both Birmingham City and Arsenal to seek their observations to examine the security measures they had in place.”

Birmingham City apologized to Grealish and Aston Villa and banned Mitchell for life.

“Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in Sunday afternoon’s derby match,” a club statement said.

“We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St. Andrew’s for life. The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.

“The club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures.

“What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this — there are no excuses.

“Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club.”

 

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Major League Soccer, Twitch Ink One-Year Partnership

Anthony DiMoro

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Major League Soccer (MLS) has inked a one-year sponsorship deal with popular streaming platform Twitch, per an official announcement from MLS.

Starting in March, MLS will start streaming the second season of their eMLS Cup, their esports league in conjunction with EA Sports’ FIFA franchise.

“FIFA is one of the main generators of the fans that we have” MLS Digital Senior VP Chris Schlosser said, via an official statement. “If you look at it historically – radio built baseball, television built the NFL and NBA, and the internet is building soccer.”

The partnership between Twitch and MLS could also include content outside of the eMLS Cup, featuring highlights or media produced by MLS teams, or clips of MLS games moving forward.

“We are looking to do some esports events – this is something we are taking a hard look at” DC United Chief Executive and Managing General Owner Jason Levin said, via an official statement.

“All of esports is a dramatically growing industry. It’s an opportunity to engage our current fans and connect with some younger sports fans who don’t know as much about DC United. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to grow our fanbase more than anything.”

It’s an exciting time for streaming, particularly on Twitch, as live sports such as the NBA’s G League, and MLS are starting to develop Twitch streams to help tap into the streaming market, diversify their digital content, and get more involved with esports teams and esports organizations.

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Manchester United Place Paul Pogba Contract Talks on Hold

Anthony DiMoro

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Manchester United is putting a hold on any contract negotiations or talks with Frenchman Paul Pogba, who is two years into a five-year pact he inked with the club when he returned from Juventus back in 2016.

Manchester United remain confident that they can convince Pogba, who has had a roller coaster run at Old Trafford, to stay with the club for the long-term future, according to ESPN FC’s Rob Dawson.

The club had hoped to engage in preliminary negotiations with Pogba, along with his agent Mino Raiola in September following Pogba’s successful stint playing in the World Cup earlier this Summer in Russie, but Pogba’s unhappiness with his situation in Manchester is now coming into play during talks.

While Pogba will not push for a move away in January 2019, he could be tempted by Barcelona next summer should they show a renewed interest in acquiring him.

Pogba’s agent, Raiola, is known for engaging in rather difficult negotiations concerning his clients and had done so during Pogba’s world record £89.3 million move from Juventus, so United was hoping to get an early start on contract talks this time around.

Per the report ESPN FC, after initial talks occurred earlier this month the plan was to step up discussions at the beginning of next season before executing the deal officially in early 2020.

Those scheduled negotiations are now being pushed back.

Per sources cited in the report, United is still relaxed about the situation with Pogba, due to their one-year option that they can fall back on which could be used to keep Pogba at Old Trafford until the Summer of 2022.

However, United is confident that they can reach a breakthrough with Pogba in negotiations prior to then.

It will be interesting to see how the lines shake up as the Pogba negotiations carry on.
OLBG.com has the latest free bets and they will surely keep monitoring the latest lines on Pogba’s future with United.

The report goes on to note that sources close to Pogba continue to insist that the cloud of uncertainty surrounding his future with the club is not designed to be a tactic to elicit any sort of pay raise.

Additionally, had executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward not refused to listen to any offers over the summer, Pogba likely would have joined Barcelona.

While Pogba is fine playing for manager Jose Mourinho this season, despite their well-documented rocky relationship in the past, he is not ruling out a move in the future.

 

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