Newcastle open up St James' to more supporters

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The Independent Online

Newcastle are to hold back around 2,500 seats for general sale for each Premiership match to allow the club's supporters who cannot afford season tickets to see their team.

Newcastle are to hold back around 2,500 seats for general sale for each Premiership match to allow the club's supporters who cannot afford season tickets to see their team.

Around 2,000 of the allocation will be reserved for supporters on a first-come first-served basis, with a further 500 available in corporate packages.

Around 41,000 ordinary season-ticket holders will crowd into the newly refurbished 52,000 all-seater St James' Park this season with a further 4,000 places being taken by corporate clients who have purchased packages for the entire campaign. United must make 3,000 tickets available for away supporters and the remainder will be taken up by club officials and complimentary seats.

The figures mean that an extra 8,000 season-ticket holders have been taken off a waiting list which at one point reached a staggering 17,000 and the places up for grabs under the match-by-match arrangement will make games accessible to even more supporters.

"This is something the club has been very anxious to do for several years and I'm delighted to say it is in line with the FA Premier League's new draft Club Charter for member clubs," said Newcastle's new chief executive, David Stonehouse. "It is great news for those fans who cannot afford the price of a full season ticket or those who find it difficult to attend every home game."

The system is similar to that employed by Stonehouse's former club Sunderland, who imposed a 36,000 ceiling on season-ticket sales to give supporters the chance to attend individual matches.

Charlton will be without their Swedish strikers Martin Pringle and Mathias Svensson for the start of the season. Pringle needs an operation for a long-standing shin problem and Svensson has a broken arm. A third striker, Clive Mendonca, is likely to miss the opening match at home to Manchester City with a footinjury.

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