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!