Ashley Must Reconsider St. James’ Park Renaming

Former Newcastle Chairman Freddie Shepherd has come out today and lambasted Mike Ashley for trying to sell Newcastle United’s soul.

st james' park

St. James’ Park – the Cathedral On the Hill

As we reported yesterday it will be very hard for Newcastle supporters to accpet a new name for the stadium – like to be The Sports Direct Stadium, since St. James’ Park is a revered stadium – the Cathedral on  the Hill, as Bobby Robson used to refer to it.

And even with the club in the second division of English football,  the home attendances are still averaging more than 41,000 – better than all but about 3 of the Premier league sides – such is the legendary support of Newcastle United.

Ashley has stated that Newcastle will listen to companies interested in sponsoring St James’ Park, which would have its name changed to incorporate theirs.

It is not a new concept, and one which is widespread over here in the United States and has been adopted by Arsenal (The Emirates Stadium) and Wigan Athletic (The DW Stadium) right now, with more clubs likely to go this way in the future.

Freddy Shepherd has said he turned down the opportunity to rename St. James’ Park after interest from three or four companies including an insurance firm following United’s 1997 Stock Market flotation:

“I can remember when we had the chance to change the name of the ground when I was Chairman,”

“It was just after flotation and big-name companies were falling over themselves to get involved in football – and back then, Newcastle were right up there with the Manchester Uniteds, Liverpools and Arsenals.” (editor note: we’re not now)

“We were offered something like £3M for a five-year deal. The branding specialists did not reveal the identity of the interested parties, otherwise we could just have approached the companies direct.”

“The money could have been ten times that and I would still not have been interested. There are some things money can’t buy.”

“The decision not to go down that road was one of the easiest we ever made as a board. I can recall raising the subject with my fellow directors, recommending we reject the idea and within a minute or two, they had agreed with me and we moved on to the next item on the agenda.”

“I just can’t imagine St James’ Park being called anything else. Whatever next? Why don’t they just go the whole hog and change the name of the club itself?”

“I suppose nothing surprises me about the current regime so news that they are ready to sell the naming rights isn’t exactly a shock,” he reflected. “I appreciate we are living in a commercial world but there are some things money can’t buy.”

“St James’ Park is one of the most famous stadiums not just in Europe, but in the world. You can go anywhere on this planet and everyone knows St James’s Park is the home of Newcastle United. The two go together and are synonymous with each other.”

“Fans will be horrified, angry and upset. They have had to put up with a lot in recent months but this is just another blow for them.”

As we said earlier today – we hope that Mike Ashley will reconsider, but he has never yet indicated, in any way, that  he takes any notice at all of what the Newcastle fans think.

So we’ll not hold our breath on this one – but it would be an excellent move for Mike to make – if  he wants to improve his terrible current standing on Tyneside.

Comments welcome.

12 comments so far

  • Chris F

    Oct 29, 2009 at 11:37 AM

    Comment #1

    thing is, it’s not just the fans this time, even the media are hounding him on this one.

    besides, who in their right mind would want to sponsor the stadium following the outrage over the mere suggestion of selling the naming rights?

    they’d instantly become the most loathed brand in the region!


    Oct 29, 2009 at 11:41 AM

    Comment #2

    Reckon so.

  • magpie6699

    Oct 29, 2009 at 11:49 AM

    Comment #3

    Top vote on Legends programme on REAL radio last night was for the “Specsavers” stadium – because nobody saw it coming.
    (Second was the Viagara stadium – because we need help to go up!)

  • HamarMagpie

    Oct 29, 2009 at 11:54 AM

    Comment #4

    Chris F, that’s also true in mye eyes. But how about my proposal, where the firm with the winning bid “renames” St. James’ Park to, yes, St. James’ Park. I guess that will spur public relations in the North East. It will be a pr gimmic, I don’t think it has been done before, and the firm will be rememerbed for this and associated to St. James’ Park without changing the name for real. What do you think?

  • geordie deb

    Oct 29, 2009 at 12:17 PM

    Comment #5

    If FFS (fatman mark1) hadn’t of flogged the family silver by spending all future revenue so now the cupboards are relatively bare, Ashley (Fat man mark2) probably wouldn’t have come up with this wheeze to rename the stadium to generate cash

  • UTD111

    Oct 29, 2009 at 1:01 PM

    Comment #6

    I still hope Tena Lady wins….

  • UTD111

    Oct 29, 2009 at 1:02 PM

    Comment #7

    Or Pampers……

    I mean, lets face it – the FCB is taking the Pi$$

  • chuck

    Oct 29, 2009 at 3:15 PM

    Comment #9

    Offered three million for a five tear period .

    “The money could have been ten times that and I still would`nt have been interested”

    Yeah right Freddy !

    Dont add insult to injury, if you want to take a dig at MA ok, but dont insult our intelligence.

  • ende

    Oct 29, 2009 at 4:07 PM

    Comment #10

    So here’s perhaps the one time when the word ‘boycott’ makes sense. Let it be shouted from the hills that any company that changes the name will be boycotted throughout the northeast and by newcastle fans the world over.

  • OHurley

    Oct 29, 2009 at 5:45 PM

    Comment #11


    ditto to that m8. I’m in the USA and will make sure that myself and all my mates boycott the company if it exists over here. Even it’s Reese’s candy (which would fcukin break my heart).

  • Lester

    Oct 29, 2009 at 7:19 PM

    Comment #12

    Good crack Magpie6669, but what about the new name being “Sports Direct”. Crazy, but let’s face it everything is possible with Ashley.


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