Llambias – “We call it St James’ Park”

Llambias speaks to the media
Derek Llambias has spoken publicly on the rather thorny issue of naming rights and the renaming of St James’ Park today, and he has admitted that both he and Mike Ashley both still call it St James’ Park.

Speaking after the release of what can only be described as a positive set of results, Llambias spoke about a vast range of subjects in an exclusive interview for the Daily Mirror.

It was quite refreshing in truth. I don’t have an awful lot of time for Derek Llambias but it’s hard to be critical when you look at what he says. Everything does seem to have a reason but I can’t help but feel that if those reasons were explained at the time then they may well have avoided some of the situations that fan and board have found themselves in previously.

We’ll start off with naming rights as Llambias shed some light on the decision to officially change the name of the ground.

“Do you think me and Mike call it the Sports Direct Arena? We call it St James’ Park, because it is St James’ Park,” said Llambias.

“The naming rights is such a passionate thing. It’s not about being disrespectful or taking away the tradition or the history of the club – it’s about trying to get another Yohan Cabaye out there on the pitch. That’s how we see it.”

“To optimise our commercial side, we needed to get that in there – other clubs do it.”

“We’ve had to take the criticism on the nose. We’re not riding roughshod over people’s love. People come to see our players on the pitch. It’s about us, the fans, the manager, the players and the region – it’s an emotional thing.”

“If we wanted to ride roughshod, we’d just put the ticket prices up. That’s not happening.”

“We know we’ve got a huge responsibility, and we know there’s a lot of emotion involved and we are emotional people, too. We are not being disrespectful. Mike and I understand and feel for it.”

“The only area of income we can really build is the commercial revenue. We don’t want to put ticket prices up. We have a 10-year ticket deal and now we’ve announced a nine-year deal.”

“We’ve increased our family area to 7,500 and for an adult and a kid it’s 500 quid a year. We’re trying to fill the stadium at a price we can afford. We can’t have it half-full, because we’d lose that spirit.”

“There are only a few ways to increase our income. We know the naming rights is contentious, but that income is something we need.”

Llambias then went on to explain what sort of vision he had or the stadium and what he is looking for from a sponsor whilst almost trying to vindicate the vast array of Sports Direct signs we have plastered all over the place.

“Could our stadium be the O2 Arena of the north? I think it could. It’s already a cathedral, but it’s dead in the summer. There are things the club can expand on, but we are limited.”

“Sports Direct is showcasing the naming rights, but without Sports Direct we would not be in Newcastle. That is the business that gives Mike the power to do what we’re doing, and the power to put £270m of his own money behind the football club.”

“We’d have loved someone to come along and say, ‘We’re going to give you the money for the shirt sponsorship and the stadium,’ but unfortunately it didn’t happen like that.”

“If we lose on a Saturday, my wife just leaves me alone in the next room and Mike sulks in his house. That’s what happens when you get involved in something when you start to run and love a team and all the functions of our club.”

“We just feel it’s for the good of our club going forward and it could give us another player.”

I’ve just looked at the word count of this article and I think the other stuff needs splitting and put into a different one or else we’ll be sitting here all day reading! So we’ll just deal with the naming rights for now and I’ll put the rest into the next article.

On one hand I can see what Llambias is saying, especially when it comes to calling the ground St James’ Park. It’s all it ever will be to me, in much the same way the Sir John Hall stand is still the Leazes End.

Having said that I don’t buy all this showcase malarkey and never have done. It’s free publicity which isn’t exactly free, but it feels like a cost of of Ashley fixing the finances if you know what I mean? Why else mention how much money Mike Ashley has put into the club and Sports Direct in the same sentence?

I can see the reason for it but I just think it could have been handled better. You only have to look at what other clubs bring in through sponsorship and retailing to see how far we are behind – Newcastle earn roughly £15m a year compared to Spurs who earn £50m, Chelsea who bring in £45m, Manchester City who rake in £54m and Manchester United who profit from an eye-watering £103m from their respective sponsor and retail deals.

Bringing in money makes sense, but that has never been my issue. The vast amount of fans can understand that. What they can’t understand is the benefit of advertising something or free.

I think…

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.

22 thoughts on “Llambias – “We call it St James’ Park”

  1. Toonsy – Ashley would argue (and probably quite rightly) that it’s not free advertising. According to the accounts he’s cleared the clubs external debt(Which was costing £6.5m pa) using his own money, which in turn has increased his ‘interest free’ loan to £140m.

    Looking at it like that, it’s more than most get for naming rights…


  2. Surely the other teams mentioned bring in more because they are higher profile and play in europe ?
    As for the main issue re-naming sorry but I still don’t and never will agree with it, I would agree if it was a new stadium but its not, but we are now told that the re-naming will get us a Cabaye £5-6 mill a year what happened the big money that they spouted at first, and to add to that it seems he has now been talking about 1-2 big players being sold in the summer ? Yeah sure we’ll all bow down to them sure since they have saved our club


  3. Stuart – This is true, and essentially I have no problem with that. If he came out and said “look, I’ve put this in, done that and all I want in return is a bit of advertising” then fair enough.

    Honesty 😯

    It’s this whole showcase thing I don’t get…


  4. BD – He did say that ‘we will lose a couple of players in the summer’ but I am clinging to the hope that he means Smith, Xisco and Lovenkrands.

    Although he could mean Tiote and Ba.


  5. I agree with you toonsy but i think there’s also an element of taking the bad press for it themselves so that any incoming sponsor wouldn’t suffer from it.

    Dave – as unsettling as it is to hear him say that, he’s said what we’ve known all along, that we’re tough negotiators, won’t sell on the cheap, but can’t compete with the biggest clubs in the world. It’s not what we want to hear but that’s the truth of the matter and we’ve been asking them for years to come out and tell it like it is 😐


  6. He also mentioned why they sacked Hughton and at least they are honest.

    They just wanted a manager who would be in all areas of the club and not on the team, it was nothing to do with experience or quality like the rumours said and he commeted on hoe well Hughton’s doing with no money or squad at Birmingham.

    Seems a fairly friendly split actually, let’s hope Brum get promited and everyone can party next season.


  7. Oh and was the potential £10m quoted at the time not for the shirt and stadium sponsorship combined?


  8. FJ – aye, thought it was interesting to hear him say that a big part of the reason he replaced hughton with pardew was because he wanted someone to stand up to him and question him on football matters. By having to justify himself, he needs to know that there are sound reasons for any decisions they make.
    Interesting saying MA was the only member of the board who was against selling Carroll too


  9. well if we start losing our blue chip players then what is the point on this naming rights busines?, that is the question we shouldnt be losing anyone we should let perch loven smith xcisco all leave and replace them with better quality to add ro what we have. Of course we will need to if we get into euroupe. but sometimes management and players dont want to achieve because it means they can be out of thier depth or out of thier job so settle for mediocrecy. and thats what has happened in the past. lets hope the tide has turned.


  10. Interesting that one or two names could leave in the summer…. Ba perhaps?
    Also mike is a chelsea fan? Dear oh dear 😯


  11. Dave – not sure if you have read it yet but I’ve just read it back and what he says is “we will loose 1-2 names in the summer” so in fairness he may be on about Smith and Guthrie but he then goes on to refer to Tiote which is what led me to think he was talking about one or two of our top stars. But you’re right, why even be talking about that?!
    These people desperately need a media person to make sure their statements are left for misinterpretation!!!

    Regarding what DL has said above – I’m not thrilled with the name change, but if it keeps the ticket prices down, I’ll live with it. I have a little boy who I’m desperate to start going to the games with. My cousin and his 8yr old boy were at the derby at the weekend and the bairn loved it, I mean he’s still as hyper now as he was on Sunday afternoon. But if our ticket prices were as high as Arsenal or Spurs for example then it would make it almost impossible for us to get them to games.


  12. Liam – Could be Smith, Lovenkrands etc just as easily…. A point alluded to when he says smaller squad with more quality.

    To me that say clearing out some of the crap.


  13. mite have to pay for players this summer mr llambiass so you and mike better get on the ball now instead of dragging your feet for a year and you prob wont get a free like demba anywhere in the world so best keep on to these boys aswell as signing some. mbiywa would be a good lad and id definatley try get adam johnson inone way or another.


  14. So he and Mike sulk on match day? I wonder, is that the emotional loss or anger that a fan feels because their beloved club has lost, or is it the thought of that extra money going to waste, or perhaps bragging rights to feed Ashley’s ego? The kind of ego that would deny bonuses to the Newcastle staff because of a draw at the end of last season….hmmm.

    Don’t buy the idea that “they get it” because as far as I’m concerned they don’t. Not gonna lie, he’s made some good points, but then what is the bloody sense in saying he and mike and everyone else will always call it SJP-Is that really going to sell it to any of those potential sponsors who were still out there? Hardly.


  15. On a more positive note, he said that a cash signing (which i assume means one involving a fee) has already been sanctioned. Hopefully that means all the details have already been worked out and he’ll arrive as soon as the window opens 🙂 Anyones guess who it might be


  16. Dubtoon – would love it to be vertonghen as recently he mentioned is leaving to experience premier league never said anything about a top four team 😎


  17. As others have said, that 140m saved the club. If he wants to name the place after himslef he’s certainly bought that right


  18. LST did you see mark douglas’ tweet last week of erik pieters? Said he was watching NUFC game and then hashtagged ‘winthatgame’ or something similar. Maybe there’s a reason for him supporting us 😉 make sense that they’d want deals tied up before the Euros and that it’d be a defender that was sanctioned as its the most urgent need


  19. from .com

    ‘This news managed to flummox Sky Sports – who ran the story accompanied by footage of Steven Taylor on their news channel. Their website then credited Ryan Taylor with our equaliser in last Sunday’s derby!’

    And some sit glued to this bullsh!t for most of their waking hours. :mrgreen:


  20. DUbtoon – I didnt see that but thats quite interesting especially if he is the real pieters 😉

    Would be good to get him signed before euros for holland keeps money down and drives up value if he particularly plays well 😉


  21. LST well i watched pieters last wk he pulled up nee trees for me,i know it was only one game but it was a showpiece game and i expected more from him,not a l/b for my money,sorry like but that imo 😡


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