The Sela Cup comes to St. James' Park this weekend, with Newcastle's men's team in action against Fiorentina on Saturday at 3.30 p.m. and against Villarreal on Sunday at 4 p.m. Newcastle's women's team will also be in action on Saturday, facing off against West Bromwich Albion Women at 6 p.m. (all times BST).
Ticket sales for the pre-season tournament remain slow, though, despite a huge marketing push by the club over the past week. As of 12 p.m. (noon) on Tuesday the 1st of August, there are still 3,705 seats available for Saturday's games and 6,906 for Sunday's fixtures. That's 10,611 in total across the two days.
This doesn't sound too bad, but when you consider that all of Level 7 (the upper part of the Milburn Stand and Leazes End), all of the upper Gallowgate, the renovated Sports Bar in the Leazes End, and other parts of the Milburn's Level 4 are yet to be put on sale.
We first wrote about the slow ticket sales for the Sela Cup 12 days ago, when there were in excess of 20,000 seats still available. Things have picked up notably since, but our prediction of around 50,000 supporters being in attendance across the two days doesn't look like it'll be too far out.
Last summer, the club attracted 88,000 across two days for games against Atalanta and Athletic Bilbao, so this looks set to be a massive dropoff despite the opposition being arguably more attractive. There's no doubt that the club has got its pricing wrong; £30 per day for an adult and £15 for an under-18 is just far, far too much.
It's been an expensive summer for Newcastle supporters, with increased season ticket/membership prices, a new Champions League/cup opt-in scheme, three new kit releases, ridiculous costs for live streaming friendlies against Gateshead (£9.99) and Rangers (£7.99), and the necessity to have a Sky Sports subscription to watch the club's participation in the Premier League US Summer Series.
Today's membership ballot announcement for the Aston Villa game won't help late sales for the weekend, either, with supporters that have memberships now facing up to the prospect of paying up to £74 for the privilege of watching Eddie Howe's side in action in the first Premier League game of 2023/24.
All-in-all, everything ticketing so far this summer has been poor, to put it politely. It's clear the many warnings of the Newcastle United Supporters' Trust (NUST) aren't being heeded. We haven't even had the announcement about the new away ticketing plans yet!
It's a shame that when everything is going so right for Newcastle in so many areas, the ticketing side of things is such a consistent negative. Perhaps it's just a symptom of the mess that Mike Ashley left every single facet of the club in, though, and it will be fixed in due time. Here's hoping.