Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Purchasing Park Could Be Best Move of the Summer

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Purchasing Park Could Be Best Move of the Summer

Article excerpt

Byline: UNION TRY TIME Rugby talk with MARK SMITH

NEWCASTLE Falcons might be having a relatively low-key summer in the transfer market - but they have already succeded in landing by far their most valuable target.

Kingston Park Stadium has been the Falcons' nest since 1990, even if they were playing under another name at the time when they bought the land from the Chronicle and Journal for a bargain PS60,000.

The cost of updating the facilities and the subsequent collapse of Northern Rock conspired to keep the deeds out of their hands for the past eight years, but the tenants are once again the landlords thanks to some shrewd work from owner Semore Kurdi.

The Jordanian Geordie made a strong case in persuading Newcastle City Council to lend the funds required to purchase the ground back from Northumbria University, offering both a social and financial return to the local authority. The synthetic pitch laid last summer means the university's men's and women's teams can train and play at the venue without any concerns over wear and tear on the surface, while rugby league siblings Newcastle Thunder are now well at home in the city's rugby cathedral.

With the benefit of hindsight the stadium deal might have seemed a formality, but failure to nail it down could have meant serious repercussions for the viability of Premiership rugby in the North East.

I first revealed the move to buy back the ground two months ago, both the Falcons and the council stung by the timing as they prepared to vote on the loan arrangement the following day.

Thankfully common sense has prevailed on a deal which has no effect on any other council funding or services, the sure footing allowing the club to now focus purely on rugby.

Crucially, it also illustrates the longterm commitment of Kurdi to a project which has thus far shown little sign of making a profit.

Losses in excess of PS3million for the past two seasons would be enough to put many people off extending their involvement, but in Kurdi they have a backer willing to see the job through. …

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