Newcastle City Council are the latest voice to come out and condemn the club over the decision to change the name of St James’ Park.
And rightly so in my opinion. It makes a change for a local authority to stand up for something that is held so close to the hearts of many of its residents.
It’s not just the residents that who have something to lose in this after all. For fans it’s merely an emotional attachment to the name but for the local council it is a source of income fro tourism and the name and stature of St James’ Park is something that is a key component of advertising the City of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to any number of parties ranging from investors to property developers to tourism agencies. And let’s not forget that the council, in part at least, owns the ground St James’ Park is built on!
Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for quality of life, Henri Murison, said: “The name of St James’ Park has been synonymous with Newcastle United football club and the city for more than 130 years.”
“It is recognised around the world and the decision to change it, without consultation, will upset the overwhelming majority of fans who loyally support the team week in and week out.”
“While I understand the commercial reasons for renaming sports venues when they relocate, this is not the case in this instance, and some things are beyond profit when they mean so much to people.”
“The football club is part of the beating heart of the city, and while the council values its relationship with the club, it has no plans to change any existing wayfinding signs which bear the name St James’ Park.”
“As far as the fans and Newcastle City Council are concerned, the home of Newcastle United will always be known as St James’ Park.”
As I said earlier, the Council part owns the land along with the Freemen of the City so it’s nice to hear them echo the views of many fans and insist on still calling it St James’ Park. Ultimately though they are powerless to step in and stop any changes in the name of the ground, or at least it seems that way, and lets not forget that they did give planning permission for all the signs on the exterior of the ground. Maybe in doing so they made a rod for their own back?
It will always be St James’ Park to the fans and I personally will never refer to it as it’s new official name. The unofficial one has been good enough for me, my parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents and my great great grandparents for over 130 years and that is something that will never be changed.
It’s a habit, but it’s a habit I won’t be breaking any time soon!