Owner Angers Fans By Renaming St. James’ Park – Sports Direct Arena


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?

Comments welcome.


120 comments so far

  • blissna

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    Comment #1

    Not gonna lie. I saw this coming.

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  • danishmag

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    Comment #2

    sad day

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  • niffnoff

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    Comment #3

    Here come the negative crowd. inb4 hate ashley.

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  • bosamuelson

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    Comment #4

    I couldn’t care. Focus on the awesome football and the position we are in.

    …and it is 4-0 to Newcastle at the packed Sports Direct Arena…

    Still sounds good to me!!!

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  • hdavid23

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    Comment #5

    my first reaction was.. f off Ashley. and the second was the same. but. then i realised that on one hand, everyone will still call it St. James’ Park, and on the other hand, this will mean more money coming into the club. this will mean we can pay back the loan to Ashley, and he’s gonna be more willing to invest in the squad. and tbh, i’d rather see us play in the Sports Direct Arena, than losing Colo, Krul, Cabaye, Ba, etc. to pay back the loans

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  • danishmag

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    Comment #6

    i will still call the beauty St.James..
    As will most other true fans of the pride of the north

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  • blissna

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    Comment #7

    I agree with making more money for the club, that is business 101. But to do it at the expense of a 130 year old brand is sacrilegious. Surely there are other ways. I was literally just warming to him too. What shrewd move to sell 4000 more season tickets the way he did. He’s scarily calculated.

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  • niffnoff

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    Comment #8

    @4

    Spot on. Think it’s 4-0 Newcastle that makes it sound good 😉

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  • davybtoon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    Comment #9

    @1 u n everyone who knows the new way football is run all clubs will b doing this chelsea n liverpool already hav deals in place n if we get 100mill sponsorship deal for 10year shirt n stadium rights who can complain, if we want to compete then this the way forward

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  • bosamuelson

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    Comment #10

    Yea I will still call it St James’s but I couldn’t care what anybody else calls it!

    …oh and it is 5-0 at the Sports Direct Arena….

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  • hdavid23

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    Comment #11

    on one hand, we’ll still call it St. James’, and on other hand, this will help the club repay the loans. and tbh, i’d rather see us lose the stadium’s name, than our best players to pay the money back

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  • davybtoon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    Comment #12

    @6 unfortantly there is no other way, man u get more for there training kit sponsor dhl than we get for our sponsors deals with puma n northern rock

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  • blissna

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    Comment #13

    I can’t quite comprehend how you can be happy about this ppl. I agree in some respects Davy. This is a step too far though.

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  • davybtoon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Comment #14

    if u wanna call it sjp u can call it that no one can stop you n hitory still remains

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  • Waldo P. Barnstormer

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    Comment #15

    This stadium will always be known by the fans of this club and every other club as St. James, what ever Ashley slaps on it or who ever wants to pay for it. Personally I will never call it anything other. IF it brings money in which I am sceptical about and we continue to grow on the pitch and as a club then I really don’t care what other people call it, it is and always will be St. James park.

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  • bills-son

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Comment #16

    niffnoff – you are dead right, just wait for the Ashley haters coming out in force.

    Ed has started it with this comment – 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.

    Forever? If I was Ashley and I believed that I would sell out to foreign owners who would probably balls our current stability up within a year.

    The world is changing rapidly and so is football. Nothing ever stays the same and tough decisions have to be made to stay ahead of the game. Unfortunately sentimentality doesn’t pay the bills. Ashley has made previous tough decisions which, though unpopular with the majority of fans at the time, have turned out to be right ones and have taken the club forward.

    I went to my first match 50 years ago and SJP will always be SJP to me. Would I prefer it to stay SJP? Yes. Is it a disaster that it gets renamed? No. Am I going to consign Ashley to the dustbin of NUFC history because of it? Absolutely not.

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  • davybtoon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    Comment #17

    blissna – this is the way football is heading like it or lump it thats the truth within 5years all clubs will b doing this

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  • CorToon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    Comment #18

    Think this is the first time that the article is angrier than the fans! TBH, it will always be St. James Park to the fans and nothing else, Thats whats important. it will only be the branded name on match programmes / TV screens etc,In a few years, all stadiums will be renamed just like American stadiums,

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  • loztoon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    Comment #19

    If this is what we have to do to comply with UEFA rules and still compete with the best then so be it..It’s still SJP in our hearts and minds !!!!!

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  • NUFC_Yao

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    Comment #20

    Disgusted owner,disgusted name…
    A businessman who never understand football and the fans should never have owned a football club like Newcastle Utd…
    Mike And Derek,you are M-A-D!!!

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  • beefman13

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    Comment #21

    ST JAMES PARK IS WHAT I WILL ALWAYS CALL IT I DONT CARE WHAT IS ON THE FRONT EVEN THOUGH IT HURTS.

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  • niffnoff

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    Comment #22

    Bills-son

    You have made possibly the best statement I’ve read in a while. The fact of the matter is. It’s not going to kill you. It’s not going to change much, you know it as SJP, we know it as SJP. The name means nothing. It’s those 11 players on the pitch, the manager, the staff, and the squad itself. THOSE are our priorities not a stadium. The fans (that’s us) are to cheer on those guys who play their sweaty arses out just to entertain us and try and win something. Win lose or draw it doesn’t matter. Now if a stadium name change happens yes a slight annoyance but nothing has changed to the TEAM.

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  • drongo

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    Comment #23

    Wish people would get a grip and make their minds up.
    We cant have it both ways – do we want to be able to offer Collo etc long deals on competitive salaries?
    If we do then we need to make as much money as we can from the avenues that dont involve selling off the players we want to keep.

    Would people rather we rename it keep hold of Collo Saylor Cabaye etc, or sell a couple in Jan and keep the old name…?

    And before people start jumping down my throat on this yes I am a proper supporter, yes I do go to games, and my family have for generations come from Scotswood.

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  • davybtoon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:11 AM

    Comment #24

    if we want compete this needs to b done

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  • bills-son

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:11 AM

    Comment #25

    Tell you what, the first few comments on here mostly show that fans are being sensible so far about this. If this keeps up the southern press will be gutted.

    I’ve sat all morning listening to ‘riot among the fans’ talk on the BBC and reading ‘Ashley the devil’ sh%te in the rag tops. That lot will do anything to put NUFC down and further their self generated myth of Toon Turmoil.

    I bet they find an Ashley hater to interview on the telly tho.

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  • beefman13

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    Comment #26

    liverpool and chelsea are next in line for new sponsors names for the stadium as well, they wont be happy, its the way of the world. money talks as we all know . it really does hurt but we have to keep moving forward and carlos tevez in january coming here might soften the blow a bit, you heard it here first.

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  • davybtoon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    Comment #27

    @22 spot on

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  • sweendog

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    Comment #28

    sad day .. saw it coming though .. tough marketing strategy as usual for a greedy owner .. ie get the sh*t in while there are alot of positives .. ie before our next 3 games ..
    it will always be known as St James Park IMO .. by the way well put Ed .. true fans don’t care about the money or what ashley is making, its about the tradition, history and the clubs name ..

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  • davybtoon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    Comment #29

    sky sports just been to the sports direct areana its not that bad, n yes beefman is ryt the press will use this to try n bring us down

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  • WWJBD

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    Comment #30

    Ask urselves who is going to buy the naming rights to a stadium that is rammed with sports direct adverts (that all seem to be cut price or free)

    Specially in the current climate. Teams are struggling to get shirt sponsors. Honestly it makes very little sense other than another major advert for sports direct tbh

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  • davybtoon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    Comment #31

    sweendog – we will b left even further behind than we already our if this isnt done n jus like it said on sky if we get a new sponsor the signs will b down the next day

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  • Irish-Toon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    Comment #32

    Why is this such a surprise to everyone, hasn’t it been called something like St.James’s Park@sportsdirect.com for the past year. It’s only a label, Ashley and Co can call it what they like, but I’m sure everyone else will always refer to it as St.James’s Park anyway

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  • davybtoon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    Comment #33

    wwjbd – they said they were struggling to attract sponsors for a joint shirt n staduim deal with sjp at the end this has to b done sad but true

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  • traceline

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    Comment #34

    How refreshing to see a modicum of balance here – thought I’d be tuning in to see a load of the bed-sheet-banner brigade go up in flames because ashley still draws breath.

    My POV: I actually giggled like a girl this morning when SSN “broke” the news – it’ll always be SJP to those that matter (and it will be in the future ) – this is merely transitory and matters not one bit – the signage and print on the ticket stub mean nothing.

    Ashley’s got history for getting new money for old rope – if it secures colo, cabaye et al, and lets us push forward (for once) – then I’m all for it (money for nothing)

    I think my sentiment chimes with alot of the fans out there: meh *shrug*

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  • WWJBD

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    Comment #35

    Also if we do get these deals will the money be invested?

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  • Incentino

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Comment #36

    This is just sad. This must have been Ashley’s thought process: “Umm, the club is actually doing pretty well now.. This opens up a lot of possibilities.. Ah.. The stadium.. I guess the fans will not kill me if I deliver a blow now. Better now that we’re in third place than eight… So be it.”

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  • southerngeordie

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    Comment #37

    Well, I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. 3rd in the league, best defence in the league and unbeaten in the league – Ashley couldn’t resist could he. I was watching Soccer Saturday a few weeks ago and Phil Thompson said that with all that was going well for the club, Ashley had to come out with something and he surely hasn’t disappointed. The news has now been confirmed that SJP is no more and the commercial rights to the stadium are now up for grabs – until then it will be known as the Sports Direct Arena to showcase the opportunity for potential investors.

    On reading this news my blood boiled and my heart sank. “Here we go again, bloody Ashley just can’t leave things alone.” Then I stopped, took a deep breath and thought to myself, “what does this actually mean?”

    Firstly, we’re still unbeaten, with the best defence and 3rd in the league.

    Colo, Tiote, Cabaye, TaylorX2, HBA, Ba, Krul and Besty are still at the club and haven’t been sold.

    And, AP and JC are still in charge.

    Nobody’s died at the end of the day. It’s simply a name change. I’ve been following the reaction on Twitter and, by all accounts, everyone will still always see it as SJP – that will never change.

    As a club we’re built on tradition and romance. As a fan my dream was to see an NUFC team with world class superstars, a Geordie no.9, managed by an NUFC legend returned to the club, playing fast attacking gun-ho football. Every match would either by 5-0 or a 4-3 thriller, with us spending zillions in the transfer window on exciting imports, all supported by a Middle-eastern consortium with bottomless pockets. Finally with 52,000+ fans crammed into a 10 times sold out SJP.

    For any NUFC fan this is the stuff of dreams and what we crave, however, it was this approach that ultimately lead to our demise and relegation.

    As a club we’ve now moved on from this. We now have a team put together of unearthed talents, via a scouting network, which covers all the corners of the globe, at a total cost of Michael Owen’s combined fee. We have exciting youth players coming through in the likes of Sammy Ameobi, Vuckic, Tavierner and Fergie to name a few. We have a manager who’s speciality has seen has concede only 8 goals in the league and us turning out hard-fort, solid performances and the seasons surprise package. In the boardroom, we are no longer being held to ransom by agents – we are spending our money wisely, with the aim of ensuring we, as a club, are as self sufficient as possible.

    The move to rename SJP comes as no surprise. On paper, it’s a move that does make sense. Look at what City have done. They’ve sold their naming rights for £400m, and it’s still referred to as Eastlands by everyone. If this is the price we have to pay to ensure that the money generated from this, allows us to hold onto the likes of Cabaye and Tiote, and allows us to bring in that extra player, then you’d have to say it’s a route that needs to be considered.

    I’m no Ashley fan, and like most fans its his face that currently occupies the bullseye on my dartboard, however, we need to be realistic and accept that this is the way football is moving. The alternative is Everton – haven’t been able to pay a transfer fee for over two years, refusing to let top talents be sold so money can be reinvested back into the club and refusing to sell naming rights to Goodison because of tradition. The end result, 16th in the league and a balance very much in the red.

    Selling Carroll at the time was heart breaking, now it turns out to be one of the best decisions ever made. Selling Barton, Nolan and Enrique were unthinkable, however this has allowed us to push on and bring in younger, better players.

    The renaming of SJP, will no doubt cause uproar but I implore all fans, don’t let this ruin the fantastic start we have. Let us build on what we’ve achieved, don’t let this be the catalyst for downfall. It will ALWAYS be known as St. James’ Park regardless of what the banner says across the stadium. The memories will always be there. They won’t go away because of a name change. The focus is the team on the pitch.

    I’m sure I’ll divide opinion on this, but when the dust settles could this be the opportunity that allows us to move on to the next stage and seek that level of investment that takes this club from mid-table to something special?

    Regardless, it will always be SJP and I will always support Newcastle United

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  • davybtoon

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    Comment #38

    its clear there after a joint shirt/stadium deal has northern rock deal been cut short by 2 seasons meaning all sponsors r up for grabs this summer as pumas deal runs out aswell

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  • WWJBD

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    Comment #39

    Davy
    And its nothing to do with the sportsdirect crap, bad publicity caused by the owner or the economy? Howay man

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  • derekm

    Nov 10, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    Comment #40

    pathetic – not the renaming, the way the press jump up and down, send idiot reporters to the ground to find ” disgusted ” supporters and in general look for a story where there is’nt one. Ashley is entitled to do this – he OWNS NUFC. It will always be St James Park to the fans, and the name of your stadium has never brought success on the pitch, whereas money from re – branding will.

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