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

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 Β£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 Β£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!

About toonsy

A lifelong Newcastle fan and current webmaster of this very 'blog who has the sole aim of creating a place by Newcastle United fans, for Newcastle United fans.

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

  1. Nice punchy article

    in fairness I dont give a toss what they (try) and call the club, ground, stadium or on the strip

    my grandad always called it gallowgate, me dad calls it jamesys, I call it ‘the ground’ (as in Im off to the ground)

    If it makes more money for the toon (not MA) and helps the team, you could even call it ‘roker park’ (ha)

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  2. The lack of takers wasn’t because of the @ St James’ Park imo, it was because of the sh!t storm it caused, well this time it’ll be worse, so assuming that they aren’t paying for SD Arena and the word “showcase” suggests that to me it’s just going to be “temporary” free advertising for his company…….again!

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  3. I wish to see NUFC progress the idea sounds sensible to me, they have obv tried to get sponsors in and failed IMO and either they see it them themselves or they have been told that the better deal is the complete package for sponsors.

    However let one thing always be known regardless of what signs or advertisements that are displayed it will ALWAYS be known as the GREATEST sporting arena in the world that is ST JAMES PARK

    Let’s hope this doesn’t detract from the team and the negative chants resurface

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  4. Steven…that’s the thing, it may well detract from the team and the chants will resurface, the timing of this is terrible. They could have waited until the end of the season, the idea doesn’t need to be showcased do they think companies aren’t intelligent enough to know what sponsoring a name change incorporates πŸ™„

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  5. Don’t like the fact SD are getting it for nowt but I’m all for bringing more money in and if that’s a stadium sponsor so be it.

    One point though – I’m happy to back this if it’s going to bring better players to the club, but not just for cheap tickets.

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  6. Stuart…..exactly, “if” it brings in decent money and “if” iis spend on improving the team, I doubt we’ll get either.

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  7. It will always be St James Park no matter what he changes it to. The problem he will have is who is going to take up the offer, it will only create negative publicity, no company or corporation is going to want to be a part of it. It’s another business concept alien to the needs of football, especially when part of an historic, club and stadium. When no one buys into his deal, it will become a farce like so many of his other ideas.
    The best way to react to it would be to ignore it and not rise to the obvious frustration, but I doubt this will happen and it may spell the end of our good form. Let’s hope it doesn’t.

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  8. lets face it they have done this to increase revenue, if they think its a good idea they will do it and they dont give a toss what the fans think (I think we can all agree this is something they have done from day 1). I am convinced that most of the decisions they make they do for the good of the club. I dont think we should let this effect the team cos they are on a high at the mo and protesting and giving the board abuse will achieve nothing cos it hasnt in the past.

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  9. Another crap piece of PR and another slap in the face for the fans.

    Is it a problem? By itself, no. It’s just a name. But where do you draw the line? What if the next step is to do away with black and white and take up the colours of the sponsor? And why stop at ground naming rights? What about sub-rights for the stands?

    Is there any end to what can be branded? Could the United in Newcastle be sold? What about the nickname? And what about a giant advert on the big green thing that everybody faces at a match?

    Where do you draw the line?

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  10. Toonsy…I think he’s only done it so that you have something to write about during the international break πŸ˜†

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  11. It would be like a private number plate for ASDA.
    At Sports Direct Arena.
    They could have a supermarket at Shearers!

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  12. Toonsy
    6 mins ago
    I wonder if Sports Direct will be β€œshowcased” on our shirts next season?

    My thoughts exactly! I wouldn’t particularly be bothered by either prospect if I thought for a second that it would go towards paying off the clubs debt to Ashley. However, I largely suspect that not to be the case.

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  13. There’s a saying, your first reaction is generally the right one… I hate it!!!…
    I hear the argument of sponsorship money and having to keep up, finacially with other clubs, but na. It is St James Park and has been for the 30+ yrs I’ve supported Newcastle United and anything else just wouldn’t be right.
    If we were moving ground, fair play but I think someone has already said.. Halfway through the season when all appeared to be going well is stupid time…. I know the shirt deal is up at the end of the season so doing it now gives them time to get it sorted but in that case, they shld have done it in the Summer.
    It is now obvious to everyone why the season tickets went on offer last month.
    Pardew must pick up the paper this morning and think, for **** sake, not again!!

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  14. Troy, I doubt we’ll get half that. Arsenal get Β£2.8m a year for the naming rights and Β£6m for the shirt sponsorship so if a much bigger club gets less than Β£9m for both what chance do we have of getting Β£10m just for the stadium?

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  15. I’m not particularly happy with this but I think some of the reactions last night were a bit ower the top (for a change).

    Just glad we don’t have a home game for a while.

    Out of interest – what does everyone here call the Premier League and the FA Cup?

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  16. I’m trying to be reasonable about this, but finding it very difficult. I don’t see how you can take away over 100 years of tradition without consulting the very people you represent. Newcastle United belongs to the fans, not Mike Ashley, owners will come and go, but the fans will not. This is another slap in the face, I wish he would sell up and go, and to be honest no amount of success will change my mind on that, I dispise the underhand, sneaky, gutless way the club is ran.

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  17. cant stand the hypocrisy from some fans .. they complain about MA only wanting cash and everything being money orientated, but then the biggest complaint is that not enough cash is spent on players .. that there should be big money signings – whos really the most cash thirsty? ….. how does anyone think we managed to do well under Keegan 15 years ago – because of MONEY MONEY MONEY and now everyone is arguing that someone else should pay more MONEY MONEY MONEY … get over it. Lets get as much cash in as possible – which is critical to our chances of being successful in improving performances on the pitch which is most important of all if all we are after is entertainment. As per the old arguments, complaints about debt should be directed to the previous regime who spunked our cash without proper care and concern for NUFC. Thats it. yaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwn.

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  18. Good point Richitoon, the way I see it; They probably decided they couldn’t wait till end of season (give them the benefit of the doubt that they at least considered it) as needed to show prospective investors that having the stadium name changed won’t cause that much hassle.

    Northern rock sponsor finishes at the end of this season and as it currently stands IMO no major company will touch the stadium name as they probably believe it to be too much negative publicity, but us football fans are very fickle and if we continue as we are then the negativity disappears and it’s easier to sell as a result because everyone is happy.

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  19. I dont like it as an idea but it is moving with the times unfortunately.

    I doubt we will ever know if SD pay for it and how much, but lots of clubs on the continent do it now as do some clubs in this country. Chelsea are now going to do it as they arent able to move to a bigger stadium. If it does bring in Β£10 million a year which can get us another Cabaye AND Tiote a season (very unlikely each season will work out the same I know that) then it has to be looked at.

    If we are going to have to conform to the new regs then this is something we will have to suck up. NOT like, but just put up with. I and I am certain everyone esle, most media too, will still call it SJP, and hopefully the new sponsors will see the opportunity to incorporate SJP into any title and appease themselves to us. Fanciful maybe but lets hope.

    Its happened and it is a shame that it has but money is the driver now and so we must utilise as many streams as possible to try and compete. Theres only so long we can rely on cheaper, we scouted buys, as lets be honest Cabaye and Tiote will be prime targets for ‘bigger’ clubs if we dont break in to the european slots.

    Just want to highlight that I dont agree with this or like it, but I can see why theres a benefit

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  20. i would be on board with this if it brought in millions for new players,but the simple fact is no company will touch this just like @ stjames park failed,this is just a cheap way for ashley to promote SD

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  21. Toonpipes…where’s the “hypocrisy”?…..you keep mentioning the money coming in, but as yet it would appear there isn’t any from this.
    Sorry if peoples opinions are boring to you as mine appeared to be boring you last night, if thats the case don’t read or comment on them, it’s that simple.

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  22. Just like you hoped for relegation this season? I wondered how long it would take you to crawl back out from under your stone – you dirty mackem scumbag!!

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  23. What timing eh? pull the rug out from under us its no surprise its been done while we are doing so well. All a little contrived. Its a shame but it will always be St James to me and my mates or we are off to the match.

    Still if he sells up the ground can go back to being St James again. I think 10mill for sponsorship is cheap at the cost of over 100 years of tradition and what our ground name has been know as around the country and world.

    Still I knew something had to upset the season or put us in the papers. Remember the team and AP are not responsible for this so lets keep supporting them. Our objections in the past have made no difference so there is no point in over reacting.

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  24. Richie, divent be owah sensitive .. Its not your comments that are yaaawn its the aggro everytime the club takes a positive step. Hypocrisy – refer you to comment 27 above. Wants new players but want them to paid for with what? .. I’m willing to bet huge amounts of MONEY MONEY MONEY that we have more chance of signings if we change our signing + generat cash, than if we don’t. Hasn’t MA proved that he is willing to invest or have you missed the 3rd place in the prem. Just think we shud get over it + see what gans. Can tell you that the dream owner who has multi billions aint gonna buy a club where the supporters kick off at every tough decision.

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  25. FFS, wake up man….. where’s the problem? The ground’ll still be known as SJP as far as most fans are concerned and in these hard times, we – nay any club – needs to maximise its revenue and I suspect that the figure of Β£10m pa is grossly understated.

    Just think about it, no sane sponsor’s gonna buy naming rights to the ground unless it’s gonna give it positive exposure and the only way to achieve that is through success on the pitch.

    For goodness sake, nip this negative reaction in the bud, stop re-opening old sores. What if the ground was rebranded (sponsored) by a well-known and well liked brand – not associated with Ashley? I guess that’d be more palatable to fans and that being so. I wonder if this reaction is simply because it is associated with him.

    Get a grip before there’s any damage done cos without maximising revenue, we’ll be left with a Gallowgate site with a hotel or something on it – the club having gone bust or if not, playing in the Blue Square North and sharing a stadium with Gateshead! That’s the stark reaility!

    😯 πŸ™

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  26. I was 7 when I first climbed over the wall @ St James Park and I’m now 62. The next time I see the Toon play, It will still be St James park.
    Long live the Revolution. HWTL.

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  27. Toonpipes: “Hasn’t MA proved that he is willing to invest or have you missed the 3rd place in the prem”

    No and No.

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  28. Even Everton who have no money would never rename their stadium..why does he do this to us, again and again?

    From Nothern Echo:

    “The only conclusion possible is that Ashley is completely oblivious to the concerns of his supporters. Either that, or he actually revels in causing them distress.”

    Sums it up for me.

    Now to take the stick of my non geordie mates all day. Anyone else feel atmosphere weird this morning in town?

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  29. @31: aye, what a f*cking great idea. Nobody go, lets have an empty ground for the visit of Chelsea when we’ll need the fans behind us to cheer the lads on. So what if we don’t go? He makes less money, then what does he do? he finds a way of making it elsewhere, by selling our players. He owns our club, he owns our ground, he owns our players, and while he’s still here we have to put up with his ****. But it doesn’t mean you desert the players, they’ve done nothing wrong, actually, they’ve done everything right. If people protest we’ll be back to square one, an average team that are **** scared to play infront of our crowd. We may be going backwards off the pitch, but Pardew and the lads can’t help that, so we need to carry on supporting them and go forward on the pitch!

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  30. Let’s not forget, it isn’t Β£10m sponsorship until someone pays up. How much is Sports Direct paying? Did they pay for the Sports Direct logos to date?

    I feel that if the concern is to be treated separately for outgoings, then incoming expenses should be treated at arms length as well. I may agree that more money for the team is worthwhile, even at the expense of a century of tradition, as everything has a price. I don’t agree with sacrificing part of United’s history for nought.

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  31. Toonpipes: β€œHasn’t MA proved that he is willing to invest or have you missed the 3rd place in the prem”

    toonpipes with all due respect shut up

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  32. TP….I’m along way from being sensitive believe me, Alot don’t have a problem if this brought in decent momey which will be spent on improving the team, imo neither will happen.
    i will give and have given Ashley credit when he has done well, but I’ll also have my say when I think he makes a mistake, i don’t know if you’re aware but he does make them, including the last transfer window and now imo.
    I don’t like Ashley and never will, he does some things great and at others he’s terrible, I can differentiate between the 2, some can’t. πŸ˜‰

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  33. was just thinking for all the men that get married do their wives find it an insult when they change their name? ………….

    if it makes the club more money pays of the debt to ashley and buys players then that is good with me…………………………….

    I would love this club more than anything to be debt free

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  34. ok lads, we have to take this up with local MP. This cant happen. Take it to parliament like last time. There has to be something.

    YOU CANNOT ERASE 119 YEARS OF HISTORY FOR “10 MILLION” (aka albert luque) A YEAR! YOU JUST CANT!

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  35. I have to totally agree with Roberts comments, they can name it what ever they want, but it will always be known as Saint James park, so i say to my fellow Newcastle supporters, keep cool lads, as the saying goes, whats in a name, as long as the team is doing well, thats all that really matters, the ground will always be known as st james park, Howay the lads.

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  36. we have to put off any sponsors from thinking it will be a good to attach their name to the stadium. any sponsor that knows football anyway would not even wanna attach their name to it as they know it will always be SJP forever.

    have a feeling though that name will not change and our next sponsor will be sports direct

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  37. Craig chisholm
    November 10, 2011 at 08:32

    “Hi lads!!! I hope for a dramatic drop in revenue and gates at the next game. What a joke.”

    Cracking idea. Hit the people who have had no input on it the most…..

    Not that it would matter anyway as the season tickets have been sold.

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  38. I seen a quote on twitter yesterday which applies to Ashley and Llambo…”They know they price of everything and the value of nothing.”.

    They must enjoy ruining it whenever we get close to a bit of sucess or pride, there idiots both of them.

    To be honest if the money that it brings in would be spent on players I could see a positive but we all know for a fact it won’t – if 35 million from player sales doesnt get spent on transfers, 8-10 million from a daft naming right wont change a thing on the transfer front.

    The money will probably be used to refubish all of the offices in the ground then they will come up with some stupid statement saying the money has been kept for the future transfer window, be wont panic buy blah blah blah.

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  39. Toonsy – this is the first time Craig Jizzum has been on all season… funny how he shows up at the first sign of trouble. Hast to be a mackem – has to be!!!

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  40. Everyone ❗ ❗ ❗

    I couple of weeks ago I wrote that every ‘bad’ decision MA has made has turned out for the best.

    I woke up this morning, checked my facebook and noted that some had written – “Is anyone up for re-branding Mike Ashley ‘Hans Uber****’?”

    ‘Oh no’, says I. ‘What’s the fat man gone and done now’

    As I tuned into Sky Sports news at 6am I see this shocking news (for toon fans anyway). Since then I have felt distraught, absolutely cut up and at some points physically sick at the thought of our St James’ Park to be known as anything other.

    The thing is though, I completely understand why it has been done. Football, at the end of the day, is guvorned by money and if we want to keep playing with the big boys we need to be on a big boys wage and this heart breaking decision will help do that.

    As distressing and awful as this is I hope people begin to see why this has been done. Throughout my 29 years on this planet my mam’s always had a phrase that has stuck by me – “Nothing that’s worth having in life comes easy”.

    Having Newcastle United in my life is definately worth having, even with all this painful baggage.

    Howay The Lads. πŸ˜‰

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  41. What people must realise is that for all the history we may have aquired since 1860, it means jack **** to the future and the future of our club MUST move with the times as much as this may hurt or there will be no future for Newcastle United supposing we are forced to play on the toon moor.
    We must look at this situation objectively and for the benefit of coming generations of Toon fans. Unfortunately, the filthy Lukre is what drives everything these days and it will not change for the forseeable, so as much as it leaves a very sour taste, it’s time to suck it up and move with it or do without.
    I know which one I prefer.

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  42. There not daft like, do it when theres an international break and two away games in a row; probably thinking that the anger will die down for the chelsea home game πŸ˜†

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  43. TC..agreed mate, I fear some will though which is why “showcasing” it and especially now is a bad idea. There is absolutely no need to showcase it, companies already know what stadium sponsorship entails without having to have it demonstrated to them. πŸ˜•

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  44. Thought about this for a while. It makes monetary sense I suppose, but I’d like to see the money. 1. I don’t think MA is paying anything for all the tacky stickers all over the place and 2. I don’t see the money that we did get (35m) going into the team. Into the general accounts, sure, I’m sure MA isn’t pocketing it, but I want to see it being used on extra signings and new player wages.

    Surely they could’ve done this without MA getting free advertising off this whole fiasco. It’s been 1 or 2 years? of sportsdirect@St-james just as a ‘placeholder’.

    There’s got to be some transparency here in these deals. Let’s see what Llambias has to say.

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  45. Rich – There is another way to think about it. Don’t think showcase, think taking the sting out of it.

    If someone rolled up, say Nike or Poundland or Greggs or whoever, and assumed the rights straight away it would be them who felt the backlash. Not now though.

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  46. TOONSY – I’d love it if it became the greggs stadium.

    Mmmm you’ve got me in the mood for a saudage, bean and cheese melt. :mrgreen:

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  47. Toonsy – I was discussing that with Dad, he’s took the heat of anybody who wants to buy the rights, because now we’d take virtually anyone instead of Ashley and Sports Direct, Although he is just taking free advertising it may be a clever tactic, time will tell though.

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  48. Toonsy….or any potential sponsor will see the backlash and won’t touch it with a bargepole as has already happened with @St James’ park imo πŸ˜‰

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  49. Nobby… I think once it’s done there’ll be no going back, it’s revenue and no future owner will turn that down……..unless I buy it πŸ˜‰

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  50. Jobey07
    November 10, 2011 at 09:27

    “I was discussing that with Dad, he’s took the heat of anybody who wants to buy the rights, because now we’d take virtually anyone instead of Ashley and Sports Direct”

    Bingo πŸ˜‰

    Although trying to quantify that to a company who is shelling out 10 million might be tough πŸ˜•

    Company: “What about the bad feeling your name caused?”

    Ash: “Yeah it was just a blip. Don’t panic. You’ll be fine honest”

    πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

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  51. It was never going to last was it……….. ho hum typical ashley he is textbook really! πŸ™„

    For the record its a horrendous decision and I dont care if its renamed Santander park or something its always going to be St.James Park

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