Yesterday evening, United For Newcastle spoke to Simon Esland, the Head of Customer Relations at Newcastle United regarding the possible relocation of the Leazes Corner singing section.
Firstly, we asked Simon if he was aware of the petition that we started on February 16, 2011 to which he responded “I know of it, but I haven’t actually taken a look at its content. It would be great to see what it is all about, and what fans are saying.” We explained to him that the purpose of the petition was not encouraging the club to shelve its new seating arrangements for the 2011/12 but to simply relocate the Level Seven singing section to another location in the stadium, with Level Four of Leazes Corner being the most obvious choice.
Simon genuinely seemed impressed that we had exceeded our target of 2,000 signatures (currently, the petition is only 100 names short of 3,000 signatures). In order for Simon to fully understand the petition we have sent it to him and suggested that he reads some of the comments made by fans. We hope this will show the club just how important the singing section is to so many supporters, how strongly people feel about its relocation and its importance to the atmosphere at St James’ Park.
We mentioned to Simon that the singing section was officially announced by the club in May 2008 and suggested that May would be a great time to announce any such plans again. Simon responded “We’re taking the views of fans into consideration, and will be until the end of April. May could be a time for this to happen.”
We felt that it was important to see how the club felt about Leazes Corner and Simon made no secret of his opinion of the fans in that area of the stadium. “The supporters in Leazes Corner create an incredible atmosphere and the section is an important part of the St James’ match day experience. However, until the season ticket situation becomes clearer, which it won’t do until the end of April, we can’t set anything in stone. It would be great to speak again in a month and see what progress we can make”
This gives all of us a whole month to prepare and back the relocation of the singing section as much as possible. This is not only a United For Newcastle initiative, but something that we believe is in the interest of every Newcastle supporter and the club itself.
Ideally, we would have all of St James’ rocking at all times, but not all fans enjoy singing at football matches. In the words of Chris Mort, “Creating a section in the ground where like-minded fans – who enjoy singing – can come together to generate a great atmosphere and get behind the team for 90 minutes."
4-0 up or 0-4 down, if there’s one thing you can predict at St James’ Park it will be the noise coming from the Leazes Corner. We saw the effectiveness of a singing section in the home draw against Arsenal. At 0-4 down, whilst some supporters had their heads in their hands, and others were leaving the stadium, it was the singing section relentlessly spurring the Toon on. When the Leazes and Gallowgate are in full-swing the atmosphere at St James’ is arguably the best in the country and it is us fans who help turn 0-4 down, into a 4-4 draw.
The petition and the relocation of the singing section now has the backing of the NUST, NUFC.com and various other Newcastle United related websites and fanzines. We have also been told that there will be an article in the Evening Chronicle this week about what we are trying to do.
We hope that the club will realise that the relocation of the singing section is the right thing to do, to ensure St James’ Park keeps the atmosphere that not only makes us famous around the world, but will always inspire those playing in the black and white.
The team at United For Newcastle would like to thank everybody for their continued support of the group and the petition, we hope to have a website soon.
I would like to personally extend my gratitude to the team at United For Newcastle who have once again been proactive in their dealings with Newcastle United and have been generous in sharing the details of their meeting. Thanks lads - keep it up!