#SBS24 next month in Manchester! Welcome Wembley Stadium, Oxford United, Juventus FC, Sodexo Live!, Croke Park, Sviby, Stadio Algarve, Keppie Design, Everbank Stadium, Kulture City, PAM, Duracell/Procell, Trusts Arena, Worldpay, Suncorp Stadium... Join them
Driving your revenues, sustainability and fan experience: #SBS24 – 15th annual TheStadiumBusiness Summit in Manchester on 17-18-19 June

Fan Experience

Newcastle seeks to ‘unsilence the crowd’ for fans with hearing loss

Featured image credit: Newcastle United

Newcastle United has teamed up with main shirt sponsor Sela and the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) to launch what they claim is a world first initiative designed to enhance the matchday experience for fans with hearing loss.

As part of its ‘Unsilence the Crowd’ campaign, Sela, a Saudi-owned sports event and experiences company, has donated its player shirt and pitch-side branding to the RNID for tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur at St. James’ Park. 

This marks the launch of special ‘haptic’ shirts that aim to make matchday more accessible for those with hearing loss. While players will sport RNID branding on their shirts on the pitch, deaf supporters will be able to wear a unique shirt that transforms the noise of the stadium into a real-time touch sensation.

Sela has been the driving force behind the initiative and has committed to providing this technology at all future Newcastle home games with a view to inspiring other football clubs across the Premier League, Europe and beyond to build on efforts to improve accessibility.

Peter Silverstone, chief commercial officer at Newcastle United, said: “When Sela shared the idea and technology behind the haptic shirts, we supported the concept immediately. We knew it would have a profound and lasting impact on supporters who are deaf or have hearing loss.

“The atmosphere our supporters generate at St. James’ Park is famously powerful and being able to bring that experience to life in such an accessible way, is very special. We look forward to playing our part in this initiative and hope it inspires fans of other clubs, sports and entertainment properties.”

By adorning Newcastle’s home shirts on Saturday, RNID will become the first hearing loss charity to feature on a Premier League shirt. The national charity currently supports 12 million people in the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus. 

Teri Devine, director for inclusion at RNID, said: “One in five adults in the UK are deaf or have hearing loss, but people often face barriers in everyday life – including in live sports events. 

“It’s fantastic to see Newcastle United and Sela leading the way in championing this technology, which has the potential to have a real and lasting impact on how people who are deaf, and have hearing loss, experience live sports. 

“We’re excited to be part of this collaboration and we hope this exposure opens up conversations amongst football fans about hearing loss and encourages other football clubs to raise their game and make sure deaf fans are fully included.”

Sela has also been part of Newcastle’s ongoing efforts to enhance the St. James’ Park experience. In September, the club announced that a planning application for a new fan zone adjacent to the stadium had been formally approved by the local authorities.

‘St. James’ STACK, powered by Sela’ intends to be a food, drink and entertainment option for those attending matches and events at the stadium, as well as a midweek leisure and social destination.

Newcastle in December engaged CAA ICON to conduct a feasibility study of St. James’ Park, with the strategic management consulting firm commencing its work by administering and running a fan survey gauging opinion on the club’s future stadium options.

With a capacity of 52,000, St. James’ Park is among the bigger stadiums in the Premier League, but expansion has been restricted by its proximity to residential areas. Since Newcastle was bought by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in October 2021, the expansion and improvement of St. James’ Park has been a key priority.