Newcastle United have renamed St James’ Park the Sports Direct Arena after owner Mike Ashley’s company.
Sports Direct Arena
In a stunning and unexpected move by Mike Ashley yesterday it seems the famous St. James’ Park name is no more.
It has been the home of Newcastle United since 1892, and it is currently the sixth largest football stadium in the United Kingdom with a capacity of 52,409.
The famous stadium is located in the center of Newcastle, with its white cantilever roof visible across the city, and it is the largest cantilever in Europe.
And now the name will be used to push Mike Ashley’s company Sports Direct. What a terrible and greedy move this is by the Newcastle owner.
With Newcastle doing so very well in the league this season and still unbeaten, this is another indication that Mike Ashley will remain unpopular among Newcastle fans forever.
And indeed it seems that Mike Ashley has gone over the mark here, in his quest to bring in more money for the Newcastle club and for himself.
The club say the change is only a temporary measure, and presumably are inviting other companies to come in for the sponsorship opportunity and therefore the name could change again.
For instance if Google came in it could be named Google Stadium, which somehow lacks the class and history of St. James’ Park.
And this move goes against what Mike Ashley had told the fans two years ago, that St. James Park would always remain, and he had talked about sportsdirect@st jamespark as one possibility of a sponsorship name.
Newcastle are now in the search for a long time sponsor to acquire full naming rights, and that could also include the playing and training kit in one big package.
Managing Director Derek Llambias said this:
“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.”
“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.”
Mike Ashley keeps shocking the Newcastle fans, and he seems to ignore any wishes or opinions they have, and the last shock was when Andy Carroll was sold, and that followed Chris Hughton being fired and replaced by Alan Pardew, which in retrospect has turned out well, to be fair.
But there has to be a balance between doing things to bring revenues into the club and going too commercial, and two years ago the fans let it be known they were dead against losing the St. James’ Park name.
But Ashley has once again shown he doesn’t care what Newcastle fans think, and he has shown his ruthless streak once again, which even manager Alan Pardew says he has.
Mike Ashley owns the Newcastle club and he will continue to do what he wants with the club. Fact.
There’s something very wrong with that somehow, and this news is very sad for the fans of Newcastle United all over he world.
What do you think?