A step too far as St James’ Park becomes Sports Direct Arena

Newcastle open training

Well it was never going to last was it?This period of stability and feel good factor that we’d bee experiencing was nice while it lasted although history pointed towards it not lasting.

And so it has proved as Mike Ashley once again manages to upset the apple cart by going the full hog and renaming St James’ Park the Sports Direct Arena with the aim of finding a longer term commercial partner who will eventually take over the naming rights of a ground that, for the past 119 years, has been known the world over as one thing and one thing only.

They (Llambias and Ashley) claim that offering prospective advertisers the opportunity to attach their name to @St James’ Park was proving to be unpopular to prospective advertisers and claim that a full rebrand is in order to attract a deal which would bring around £10 million a season into the club.

That is with the shirt sponsorship aswell I’ll hasten to add as the latest Northern Rock deal reaches the two year mark in the summer meaning that the deal can be ended by either Newcastle United or Northern Rock.

I just think it’s a step too far. I know it’s being done under the banner of bringing income into the club but £10 million a year for the whole lot seems a bit cheap to me. Not so long back we had a shirt deal which brought in that much alone. Still, let’s hear their reasoning for it.

“Our aim for Newcastle United is to continue to deliver success for the fans and everyone associated with the Club. We must make this Club financially self-sufficient in order to deliver that success,” Derek Llambias told the official club website.

“To grow sustainably and allow us to invest in our future, we will need to rely increasingly heavily on commercial income. These are very difficult economic times and the board have a responsibility to maximise all revenue streams for the benefit of the Club. Stadium rebranding offers a lucrative way for clubs to secure significant additional income.”

“When we initially launched our plans at the end of 2009, we invited sponsors to attach their brand to that of St. James’ Park. However it has become clear that in order to make the proposition as commercially attractive as possible, a potential sponsor must be given the opportunity to fully rebrand the stadium.”

“Naming the stadium the Sports Direct Arena helps up to showcase the opportunity to interested parties. We are now actively seeking a long-term sponsor wishing to acquire full naming rights for the stadium.”

“Our shirt sponsorship deal with Northern Rock will also expire at the end of this season, which presents would-be sponsors with the opportunity to acquire both the naming rights and shirt sponsorship deals.”

The timing of this is absolutely shocking and it’s important to separate Alan Pardew and the players from this decision. This is nothing to do with them and we must continue turning up at St James’ Park and supporting those who have done so well for us.

The key part in that last paragraph was when I said St James’ Park, because that is what it will always be to me and it’s what I will always refer to it as. You can’t just wipe well over 100 years of history and expect it to sit well with the majority.

It’s being done for money, which is understandable. However there is little proof that we’ll see any of that money spent on improving the team. I’m not making that up – look at the form book. Other teams have renamed their stadiums but it’s important to look at each case individually.

Manchester City moved into a brand new (well, nearly) stadium with no history. The money they get from the deal (ten times more that we are supposedly aiming for I’ll add) helps them purchase world class players.

Arsenal again moved into a new stadium when they left Highbury. The money that Emirates gave them went a long way to paying for the ground.

Bolton are in the Reebok Stadium – a new stadium with no history and Burnden Park was left untouched. The same can be said about Stoke and the Britannia.

The common thing in ALL of those cases is the new stadium with no history. This is very different to our case.

There is going to be a backlash for this of that there is no doubt, and once again we head into yet more controversy just as things had appeared to working out well enough. Brilliant. I guess we now know why the cheap season tickets were offered out.

St James’ Park forever!

135 thoughts on “A step too far as St James’ Park becomes Sports Direct Arena

  1. I just pray it doesnt affect the team; clever though offer half price season tickets before they rename the stadium…….


  2. I have lived in Newcastle for all of my 60 years.
    For the first half of my life St James Park was known by all the natives as The Gallowgate.
    It has always been a misnomer as it is situated in the Gallowgate area of Newcastle.
    The only park in the city centre is Leazes Park and if you stroll through it and look up you are under the leazes stand.
    If we are going to get £8m – £10m a year for new players Mike Ashley can call the ground anything he likes.
    I bet there are a lot of fans down the road wishing their owners would change their stadium name.!.


  3. To build on Toonsy’s point about only new stadiums having new names. The interesting thing about that is you have to call the Emirates, the Emirates because it just isn’t highbury, they moved. When you think of the new stadiums you have to call them their new names, there’s nothing else. For us, there is a lot more, the same stadium and the same name, St. James’ Park.

    In that sense if it makes more money, great, but it is still St. James’. That doesn’t change. we don’t call it St. James’ because there is a big sign outside.

    That is actually the really good thing about this deal. Although, believe me I would rather it wasn’t changed at all. But, this way, we hopefully get the money and we happily continue calling it St. James’. 😉


  4. Who cares about this??? I dont. I aint bothered what it is called. It will always be known at SJP to the fans. Its abit more money for ashley, who really cares. Its still SJP to the fans and everyone.

    If you had a business wouldnt you want to try and get as much money as possible from it? By putting in on shirts and in the ground name?


  5. Lionel – Exactly. It’s not been the traditional SJP for a couple of years now. It’s been SportsDirect@StJames’Park yet it’s still called SJP. A sponsor can’t change over a century of habit. It will still always be SJP 🙂


  6. The @St James’ park was never going to catch on as it’s ridiculously long, but Sky et al will refer to it as the Sports Direct Arena, the ones who matter though, the fans will call it St James.


  7. doitforsirbobby
    November 10, 2011 at 08:55

    I hate him. i actually physically hate him. i really really hate him

    Bobby do you physically hate the people who changed the name of Bainbridges to John Lewis, or the the people who changed Marathon to Snickers, or Jif to Cif?….For crying out loud it’s a business!!…it was all nice and cosy back in the old days when Lady May stood with Sir John and said ” Sir John we’ve got to build a new stadium for those wonderful supporters standing out in the rain there” [bollox!] Ashley is at least treating us as grown ups, and not patronising with bullsh*t about how wonderful we are whilst pocketing millions….. ALL our previous owners did exactly that!


  8. newspapers, TV, media etc….. they will refer to it by it’s new name both with the spoken and written word. I believe they’ll be legally obliged to??? this will be difficult to stomach

    If anyone can correct me on this point I’d be more than happy……


  9. It’ll be interesting to hear whether the sky commentators refer to it as St James’ or SDA. Dunno why. Thought just popped in me heed and I thought I’d share it.

    I’ll just get me coat.


  10. I agree with Joe soap. Dont effect me at all this. He is trying to make money for his business. I would do the same if in his shoes. It will ALWAYS be known as SJP to the fans.


  11. Yep Toonsy, let’s just hope this doesn’t rock the boat too much and we stay on track, and basically all together.

    Here’s to a Demba hatrick at City’s place to keep things moving along nicely. 😀


  12. It seems three of us have had the same thought at roughly the same time. Spooky :shock:. Or just further proof that we’re all just part of a symbiotic collective. Like summat off of X files.

    I’ll just get me coat again.


  13. I physically hate Snickers, does that count?
    Joe I get what you’re saying but people don’t have an emotional attachment to Snickers or John Lewis’ and as for treating us as grown ups, i must have missed that, we’re mean little to him and he treats us as such….imo of course 😉


  14. We all call it different things
    Ashley calls it his “Piggy Bank”
    Llambas calls it “I can’t believe I’m Still here”
    and Pardew calls it “neither can I”

    Personally it’ll still be St James’ in my articles and would suggeset that we just carry on calling it what we want.

    Good article but it really doesn’t worry me that much.

    These things are really just what we make them. If we dont want them to be a big issue, then they are not.

    Bloody hell – a bit deep for this time of day!


  15. Richie…..my point exactly! We mean nothing to any of them!….So why bother? Just say we protest and Ashley does ‘get out of our club!’ who’s going to take it over? Do we seriously think some benevolent benefactor will come in and hand everything back to the supporters [anyone who thinks that has been listening to local hero too much!] what’s more likely is some American business consortium will come in and introduce ‘half-time multi-ball’ and cheerleaders [mightn’t be too bad that like!]……and increase season ticket prices to £1000 a season [Arsenal]. Unfortunately football sold it’s soul with the introduction of the premier league and there’s no going back I’m afraid. Stadium naming rights is just the beginning!


  16. Joe..aye the cheerleaders wouldn’t be too bad. I do think other clubs will follow suit eventually, they’ll probably wait to see how this goes first.
    Unfortunately this is life under Ashley, when this dies down we’ll have another period of calm and stability followed by another kick in the nuts/bombshell, as always mine will be fully protected 😀


  17. lads I havn’t read all the post, but answer this.
    Why would Jabba buy the Club for the clobal exposure it would offer his company SD .
    Then try to sell the same global exposure to some other company ?
    This is just bullshit to try to please the fans, he has no intentions of selling the naming rights, I would put my house on it, tis funny that I said they would have SD on our shirts and it looks like they have paved the way for that aswell.


  18. And credit to llambias for coming out and explaining it to the fans, its not nice to hear but better than the normal bunkering down.


  19. sports marketing expert on ssn,says ashley will struggle to get some to buy the naming rights.
    so i guess it will stay SD.
    toonsy you need to look into how much money SD are paying for having there name plasterd all over the ground


  20. Apparently the name change will means parents will no longer be able to name their sons ‘James’. 🙄

    “Tyronetemple Ralph C Kincade
    @MsiDouglas I named my eldest son James after the stadium, what can parents do now? #unlessyourachav”

    Named after the stadium? What, you mean the one that was named after a Saint – you fcuking imbecile!


  21. TC @ 101 – Some people really stagger me 😯

    And I was going to call my kid Rover after the cars. What the hell am I going to do now? 😆

    Hitman – It won’t be visible until the new accounts although I dare say we’re not getting anything for it. It is, after all, a showcase. I wouldn’t care if it stayed as Sports Direct as long as he paid the going rate which is apparently 8-10 mill a year.


  22. Good PR for whoever buys the club and tears down the tacky signs and drops the name.

    It will always be SJP regardless of what fat micks owl heeded rent boy might try and tell us…


  23. Maybe the council will sell the naming rights to Greys Monument or something. Why not? It’s only a name at the end of the day.

    Stupid idea? I agree. You can’t just change the name of something so historical for a potential measly 10 million a year. It’s worth more than that. The fans should chip in and change the name to ‘Mike Ashley is a Fat Twat@St James Park’.

    Why not change the club name to Sports Direct United? Or change the colour of the strips?

    I don’t understand why the council or whoever isn’t involved with this. You can’t just rename landmarks of the city? Can you?


  24. So for all the hissyfitters and kneejerkers.

    Seeing that others with ‘new’ stadiums are benefiting from this revenue stream – are you seriously suggesting running the club hamstrung?

    Think with your heads not your hearts.


  25. Our MP’s and councillors will step in here..they have to. Theres to much bad feeling in the city for them not too.

    I GUARANTEE that this SDArena name will remain as long as that evil prick is in charge. No company is stupid enough to try and take over naming rights at SJP.

    My phones off as sick of the messages im getting.

    I hate him. And DL can go fcuk himself too. Cockney shit


  26. I don’t want to insult anyone but it amazes me that some people believe the bullshit, that its a ‘Showcase’ and it will bring money in to invest in the team.
    It seems that some supporters are like a beaten and abused wife, that is always told im sorry I won’t hit you again, and i’ll change.
    Well just as everything was going along smoother than it has for yrs, Jabba is back to abusing.


  27. Stardust

    Think with your heads not your hearts.

    sometimes i wonder if some of these guys actually understand what being a football fan is. especially in this city

    theres no such thing as thinking with our heads as the club and city is in our hearts



  28. Stardust, no offence but the owner of Sports Direct pays nothing for plastering our ground with crap tacky looking signs and changing the name of a historical site which means so much to the people and the city.

    If he’d saved the cash from getting all those signs made we could have bought a striker or defender or something.

    I’m sure your just a mackem. You’ve been on Ashleys side since he took over the club, through all the crap. Your red bus isn’t red anymore mate, it’s emblazoned with tacky looking Sports Direct signs, generating revenue for a completely different firm altogether.


  29. Let him put up the price of each ticket by a tenner next season. 52,000 * £10 = £520,000. Multiply that by 20 home games (ish with cup games) and you have £10.4 million.

    Thats more that the ‘8 – 10’ million bullshit money that they think we will get. Im sure we would rather do that than sell our history.



  30. lots of people have said time and time again ,
    “the carroll deal is a good deal ”
    “next transfer window they will spend”
    “next transfer window they will spend”
    “next transfer window they will spend”
    “theres nothing hidden in the cheap season tickets its just mike being nice”
    “they have changed”
    If you put your hand on somthing and it got burned would you keep doing it over and over again ?
    well let me lay my cards on the table M Ashley does not have the best interests of Newcastle united at heart .
    M Ashley has not and will never put money into buying players .
    M Ashley is not running the club well and will not leave the club on a sound financial footing .
    M Ashley is assett stripping nufc history has proved that time and time again , when will some fans learn its not doom and gloom and its not being negative its the cold hard truth staring us in the face .
    “shouting abuse at him doesent help” im told ,well pretending hes doing a fab job doesent either. Well im sure theres a line of millionaires outside SAINT JAMES PARK now pleading with mike
    “please mike can it be my company that the fans boo everytime its mentioned over the tanoy and can i have my company name posted in a hostile and toxic environment where fans are likely to boycot my products please ” i dont think so .
    The negatives far outweigh the positives in his tenure here and it will only get worse , i was wrong about Pardew and ill openly admitt that however i wonder how many Mike “he saved the club” Ashley fans will do the same !


  31. I called my kids Wes Craven Cottage and Wayne Stamford Bridge

    Wes was OK but Wayne wasn’t too happy.

    She hates Chelsea. 😉


  32. Keith

    Ashley’s a businessman

    Push comes to shove 10 million a year for a couple of new signs?

    No brainer.

    He goes from paying for it to raking it in – and isn’t that what he’s all about?


  33. Archie ,
    i miss your point , my point is the team and the club will not benifit only him !
    The timing is horrible as it is likely to affect the teams performances !
    We are football fans and in that respect are interested in football so it boils my piss that he changes the name of a historic stadium for his gain !
    woop ashley makes more money , i could not care less.
    Question , is Ashley a good owner !
    does ashley care about the football team being a success 2
    will Ashley leave this club in a shit state .


  34. Keith

    If you want to make money anywhere along the line a successful club has to be more profitable than one which is not

    This applies whether you want to sell it and make a profit or whether you want to sell the naming rights, shirt rights whatever.

    So I have to say yes I think he does want the club to be a success, if not for the same reasons we do.

    Will he leave it in a shit state?

    What – teetering on the edge of financial ruin like Shepherd and Hall?

    I would think that the one thing he is most likely to do is leave the club in a better condition financially. He has to – no bugger else would want it if he didn’t.

    So how do you think the team is doing this year with no big name signings , reduced wages and next to no money being pumped in?


  35. BigDave

    I don’t think he’ll get his 10 million a year but there have to be takers.

    The advertising coverage on National TV, newspapers etc.

    Not sure if I could ever go to watch the Toon at Javed Anwar’s Plumbing and Electrical Supplies Arena though.


  36. Ha and thats all down to ashley i love selective memories ,you want me to judge ashley on his tenure then i will but that is not the last 16 games is it
    Managerial merry go round ,
    Carroll money
    Relagation after 16 years in the prem league etc etc etc etc etc .
    You dident answer is mike a good owner !
    But to answer your question the team are doing great and i cant wait to go to man city and cheer them on .
    But selling established players for big bucks and not reinvesting any of the money back into the team and solely relying on your scouts to provide free or cheap players is great but do you think that can be repeated ! and do you think it can be repeated without the likes of colo tiote etc !!!
    This will end badly for the team and the fans and i truely cant understand how people cant see that ..


  37. Keith

    I like to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    No – he’s not a good owner, but he’s a good businessman.

    Lame-arse isn’t a good chairman and nobody thought much of Pardew as a manager either.

    I reckon the businessman will get us through to apoint where we can build

    It really is not in his best interest to bury the club.

    He gets nothing for it then

    Enjoy Man City.


  38. Sidekick……

    Are you sure that the only park in the city centre is Leazes Park ?

    When did they move the Exhibition Park?


  39. Archie man how many times are you going to give him the” benefit of the doubt ” are you joking !
    We are fans what does it matter about his bussiness sense or bottom line !
    Its the team that matters and he has proven time and time again he wont spend infact the opposite he will sell sell sell ….
    Howay lads and lasses cant you see the wood for the trees !!!!!!


  40. I think we need tyo take this in context and not just knee jerk reactions. The club is now probably in the best financial position for many years. Love him or hate him MA is a business man and is working towards FIFA 2012 directive on club finances. Its about time the fans just supported the club and the progress it is making… if MA wasn’t there would we want to go to the dark days of Lord Westwood and his cronies….not me! We are Newcastle United!!!


  41. Andrew
    “the club is in the best financial position for many years” nope MA is , not the club the club will recieve no money from this at all , and is the 35 mill forgotton about !
    also all of the price reductions in tickets like the 10 year freeze the 3 year deals the half price friends and family do not leave the club in a sound financial position they are for short term gain not long term investment or stability !
    “working towards fifa 2012 directive” ha it tells clubs to sell players for big bucks lie about reinvesting it and keep it all ! and goes on to say its ok to completley ignore the fanbase and remove all history from the club for advertising purposes … i missed that bit !
    Andrew you then mention “progress” again you must base ashleys progress over the last 16 games , i think thats a tad selective why dont you look at the last 3 years !! please tell me what has ashley put into the team !
    And you finsh with well if it wasent ashley it would be worse i have heard this many times and please tell me HOW !
    Its easy to be afraid of the unknown but imo it would be nearly impossible to find anyone anywere near as bad .


  42. Hahah the council have stuck it up Mike Ashley and said that they wont be changing any “St.James park” signs


  43. Venky’s? No thanks. They make Ashey look sane. They’ve just given their manager who wins on average 1 in 7 games a new extended contract.

    Dave Whelan? Done nothing. Look at his net spend. He is in positive territory. Fair play to him for getting Wigan up the leagues though.

    Hicks/Gillet? The people who took Liverpool to within 48 hours of administration? This is Liverpool who have three times the income we do.

    Glaziers? Yes they are winning trophies, so you have to wonder why their fans are desperate to see the back of them and have a campaign dedicated to to doing just that? Maybe it’s something to do with the £500 million debt that they got the club into?

    Not saying Ashley is the best. I don’t think anyone has? By no means is he the worse though even if he does have a habit of riling the fans.


  44. 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡
    I WAS actually shocked by this. It just seems so cheap. Next you’ll find he’ll rename the team to ‘Sports Direct kindof United’!


  45. The FCB tried this one last year, no one listened then & it wont be any different now. If some one wants to pay £10m for the name – so what? The only ones who matter in all of this are the fans and the folk of Newcastle Upon Tyne, we will always call the holy land ST. JAMES’ PARK.


  46. toonsey@130
    venkys i agree bad and hicks and co bad .
    Whats whelan done wrong hes took a small club and cemented them in the prem.
    the glazers are in debt but are you telling me you would not swap that for being one of the best teams in the world and winning lots of things !
    but then there Abramavich , sheick mansour , joe lewis , ellis short , usmanov , eddie davies the bloke at boro i forget his name and many many more imo ashley is way way down the list on honesty decition making buying players public relations etc hes one of the worst .


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