The iconic gates which once adorned the home of Newcastle United are to officially return to St. James' Park this summer after a successful partnership between fans, the Club and new sponsors Wonga.com.
Following positive discussions between Club officials, members of the NUFC Fans United group and Sir John Hall's Magpie Group, on whose land the gates have been stored, Wonga has stepped in to provide the necessary funding for a famous homecoming.
The donation has enabled work to begin on lifting the huge wrought-iron gates from Sir John's farmland at Woolsington Hall, Northumberland, which will commence at 9.30am on Friday, 14th June. It also covers the construction of a custom-built frame which is being used to transport them to a dedicated workshop where extensive refurbishment work will now be undertaken prior to installation.
It is anticipated that the gates, which are set to be located outside the entrance to the main Milburn Stand reception on Barrack Road following a feasibility study, will be unveiled close to the start of the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season and will remain as a lasting symbol of the relationship between the football club and its supporters.
Derek Llambias, managing director at Newcastle United, said: "We are very pleased to have worked with our supporters to see plans for the gates come to fruition. St. James' Park is already an iconic stadium and the gates will create a focal point that Newcastle United fans will be proud of, and that all football fans will want to see when they visit the ground and the city.
"We look forward to seeing the gates back in their full glory where they belong ahead of the new season."
Darryl Bowman, marketing director for Wonga, said: "Every fortress needs some imposing gates and it's time for St. James' Park and the fans to be reunited with these old friends.
"We wanted to help as soon as we heard about the exciting plans that were being developed between the club and NUFC Fans United and I can't wait to see them reinstated."
Wonga has continued to work closely with fans ahead of its inaugural season of sponsoring the Magpies and has committed to regular engagement with Toon fans.
The digital finance company has already purchased the stadium naming rights and restored the St. James' Park title and this month began work on covering vast Sports Direct advertising on the Gallowgate roof, returning it to its original colour instead of adding further branding.
An NUFC Fans United spokesperson said: "The re-installation of the gates permanently safeguards the feature of St. James' Park as a name and its ties to the stadium and city.
"NUFC Fans United views this as an ongoing and lasting tribute to every Newcastle United supporter, player and club official who has ever entered the hallowed shrine that is St James' Park. Over time the gates can become a focal point that all Newcastle United supporters, as well as visitors to this great city will embrace."
Malcolm Dix, on behalf of Sir John Hall and the Magpie Group, added: "We are delighted that the gates will, in due course, take their rightful place outside the stadium.
"We sincerely hope that they will become a great attraction for all supporters, young and old. They will be a huge attraction for visitors to the city and the North East.
"This will fulfil Sir John and the Magpie Group's original concept of them becoming an example of on-going and future cooperation between the club, fans and the city. They are there for posterity and we are grateful that the Club will maintain and care for them."