Newcastle University Business Expert Criticizes Mike Ashley

The news over the last few days is on how the famous St. James’ Park sign on the stadium wall outside the ground were removed with a crow-bar by workers.

Mike Ashley – criticized by Newcastle University Business School Director
The workers met with significant verbal abuse from Newcastle fans, and at one point stopped removing the famous sign.

Dr Joanna Berry, Director of Engagements for Newcastle University Business School, had this to say about the renaming of St. James’ Park:

“I think the value of the sponsorship reflects the value of the team,” “We’re doing all right at the moment and I think the better you do, the more expensive you have to pitch yourself and the more you should be charging.”

“I think having already put the Sports Direct brand up there as a sort of ‘to let’ sign makes it more difficult because if you become the sponsor that follows Sports Direct, in a sense you are associating yourself with the brand values of Sports Direct.”

“These are not necessarily the brand values that a sophisticated, global, aspiring football club would necessarily want.”  “It is very difficult to inherit somebody else’s brand attributes and that is what happens when you follow somebody else down the partnership route like that.”

“I think if it had been left as just St James’ Park that carries with it such incredibly strong echoes of tradition and heritage and excellence and effort and all those great things. To take the St James’ Park name away and replace it with another one is a very big mistake.

“You are devaluing the part of the football club brand that really has got associations of excellence. You’re putting in great big letters above it the different associations that one has of Sports Direct as a brand.”

Well we agree with everything Dr. Berry says,  and perhaps Mike Ashley will be persuaded to keep the St. James Park name.


Not when he can get £10M a year from a company for the renaming rights.

Newcastle need to generate extra revenues, there’s no doubt about that, but maybe some things are best left alone,  and the famous name of St. James’ Park has been linked with Newcastle United for 120 years, ever since the club was founded back in 1892.

Once again the brazen side of the Newcastle owner and Derek LLambias come out, and they seem not to care or even want to listen to what Newcastle fans have to say, but this has been a long term problem with the Ashley people.

On the field of play and in the transfer market Newcastle are starting to actually be successful under Mike Ashley’s ownership, and since we were relegated the club has come storming back and we have shocked a lot of people this season, including ourselves. 😀

For the record here is Dr. Berry’s background and research interests:

Joanna’s research interests are centred around the personal and professional opportunities and challenges created by technological developments across science, business and the creative industries.

Current research covers analysis of changing value frameworks and business models across these sectors. Joanna teaches Strategic Marketing to EMBA students and is Senior Tutor for BA Marketing and Management.

Her Ph.D studied emergent music industry business models. Joanna is Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Chair of the North East Regional Board of the CIM. She is also a Fellow of the Institute of Business Consultants.

It seems that Joanna received her PhD from Newcastle University last year.

In closing,  money isn’t everything, and if only Mike would come out and talk to the fans and show he is actually human, things would be a lot better with his relationships at the Newcastle club and in the City.

But he continues to refuse to do that.

Comments welcome.

44 comments so far

  • toonarmydownsouth

    Feb 18, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Comment #1

    Happy birthday sir bobby gone but never forgotten, a true gent of the game.

  • jonnymcdonald

    Feb 18, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Comment #2

    Why does it matter what this woman says???

  • bills-son

    Feb 18, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Comment #3

    It seems that Joanna received her PhD from Newcastle University last year. Really?

    So she’s wet behind the ears and – how many businesses has she run? Zero I bet.

    And she is giving advice to MA – a self made billionaire who has made his money in one of the most competitive and cut throat business, sports wear. And whose strategies have revived the club and got us financially viable, 5th in the Prem with a 6/7 players even the ManU’s and Citeh’s envy.

    I know who carries more credibilty.

    And it aint that Joanna.

  • shearermania

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Comment #5

    why should we care what any woman says……….they dont know chit about football anyway…….

  • Jail for Ashley

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Comment #6

    Will you be ordering a new penis for your giant latex Ashley doll surely there can’t be much of the current one left.

  • toonincheek

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Comment #7

    JfA – can you give your abusive comments a rest?

  • SurefootedShola

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Comment #8

    Like most academics, she talks sh!te.

  • shearermania

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    Comment #9

    come on jfa has mellowed quite a lot over the last few weeks. you got to give him some space man…
    and besides that- i find his comments quite funny, but then again im very immature

  • dmac

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Comment #10

    @7 no he cant because obviously he is a cretin.

  • steve

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Comment #11

    Pointless article, no offence Ed. Ashley will do what he wants with the club no matter what we or anybody else says. If he so wants to re-name the team SportsDirect F.C and have us play in red and blue then he will. Simple as that really.

  • hrocks

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Comment #12

    how long is this dead horse going to be flogged. we know its happening, nowt we can do about it but we still pander to it. Christ Ashley could murder a class of school children and get less publicity than hes getting over this

  • Slimmy

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Comment #13

    Those who can do, those who can’t teach. Like it or not we are a well run club now, and considering what’s happened at Rangers and Portsmouth this week we should count our blessings. Make no mistake, if Fat Freddie was still running the club that WOULD have read Rangers, Portsmouth and Newcastle United.

  • Small World

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Comment #14

    Ed, I’m with most of the posts on here. I don’t think Joanna Berry could understand Ashley’s business as well as he. I know you’re a Phd yourself, and I also place credence on having an education (a letter or two after my own name – though I’d be damned if I’d ever use them).

    For as long as Ashley owns the club we’re going to have to accept him for what he is and does. He doesn’t do PR, doesn’t suck up to financiers in the city and has a simplistic view of how to market a product. Also, his idea of “real” performance based pay is excellent in Sports Direct, and I’d love to see him make the principle stick in football.

  • sirtoongospel

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    Comment #15

    I wonder how much this expert has in her bank??? I would guess that Ashley doesn’t need advice from anyone regarding making money etc. From our point of view it’s a bit shitty, but from a business aspect, I reckon ashley has us all well and truly licked.

  • Durham_Toon

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    Comment #16

    Why should we care? Maybe cause she’s right!

  • geoff777

    Feb 18, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Comment #17

    It’s his stadium, he can call it what he likes.

    Not much I can do about it so why get angry?
    He’s not going to be the owner forever.

    10M a year extra would be good for the club.
    Thats a decent striker on a five year deal. 50M

  • Spuggy

    Feb 18, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Comment #18

    “What is a club in any case?

    Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it.

    It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes.

    It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.

    It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.”

    Sir Bobby Robson

  • bills-son

    Feb 18, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Comment #19

    Jail for Ashley // Feb 18, 2012 at 10:03 AM – bills-son
    Will you be ordering a new penis for your giant latex Ashley doll surely there can’t be much of the current one left


  • Matthew Tom

    Feb 18, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Comment #20

    There is nothing foul mouthed in Jail for Ashley’s post. It is all perfectly correct English. It is also not something a reasonable and broad minded person should regard as abuse. Your post was fair enough if you support what Ashley is doing, but for Jail for Ashley (presumably not an MA fan) to respond in such terms is clearly jocular and just the sort of banter most people would not find unusual or offensive if said in the workplace or the pub.

    With respect to you bills-son, I object to you attempting to stifle banter and debate on this forum.

  • thepict

    Feb 18, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Comment #21

    So if naming rights are worth £10 million a season, how much have NUFC received from our esteemed owner for having signs for his tacky company all over the ground. I suspect not one penny.

  • stuart no9

    Feb 18, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Comment #22

    jonnymacdonald@2 you are obviously not a businessman. making sexists comments like would land you in a bit of trouble young man . in this day and age you have to be very careful on your choice of wording and the meaning of your comment.
    bills-son . bang on form , a lady disagrees with your bum chum , so lets attack her eh ? pathetic.

  • toonincheek

    Feb 18, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Comment #23

    Foul mouthed and abusive posts can be written in correct English – that doesn’t stop them being foul mouther and abusive.

    And if “any reasonable and broad minded person” would not regard the post, and the insinuation, as abusive, then I guess I fall outside that classification.

    I see no connection between objecting to such posts and I can’t seer any attempt to stifle anything.

    Banter and debate, different opinions, Yes.
    Insults, insinuations, put-downs etc. – No.

  • chris_g

    Feb 18, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Comment #24

    I think a few people on here are completely missing the point. This lady isn’t trying to tell Mike Ashley how to run his business. She’s simply commenting on the shambolic way the re-naming of the stadium has been handled, and she’s probably right. She certainly isn’t saying anything that’s very different to what other ‘experts’ were saying several months ago, for example:

    “Shaun Whatling, the chief executive of the management and brand consultancy company Red Mandarin, cast doubt on Llambias’s forecasts, saying: “They’re unwise to raise expectations of £10m incremental revenue and creating linkage with new signings – there’s already antagonism amongst fans to the sale of naming rights and Derek Llambias is now preparing a frosty welcome for any sponsor buying in ‘on the cheap’.”

    Tim Crow, the chief executive at the sponsorship consultancy Synergy, believes the best way to avoid the risk of brand damage for interested sponsors would be to stay away. “I’d be very surprised if any brand came forward and if any of my clients asked me for my opinion I’d advise them in the strongest possible terms not to,” said Crow. “Or they could do the shirt sponsorship on its own, which would be entirely positive.”
    The Guardian, November 2011

    On that last point, it was no real surprise that Virgin Money saw the positives in the shirt sponsorship deal, but there are too many negatives regarding the stadium re-branding issue, which is why outside sponsors don’t want to get involved.

  • Byker Boy

    Feb 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    Comment #25

    Makes me laugh to suggest that Mike Ashley the billionaire should take financial advice from a Dr Joanne Berry who’s on a monthly salary like the rest of us.It is sad, but a rose by any other name will smell as sweet, and it makes extremely good financial sense to sell the naming rights and he has my blessing, you know it makes sense.Lets stop bickering amongst ourselves as long as the team is called Newcastle United we didn’t like it in Byker the original birthplace of Newcastle United when we moved ground to St James Park and east met west but it was for the best of our great club and city.

  • MacToon

    Feb 18, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Comment #26

    £10 million a year for naming rights, dream on!

  • stuart no9

    Feb 18, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Comment #27

    slimmy@13 ” if fat freddy had still been running the club that would have read portsmouth – rangers – newcastle .” know that for a fact did you? where did you get that information from ?

  • toonincheek

    Feb 18, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Comment #28

    Would I be right in thinking that the location is officially St. James Park? Presumably even before we moved there?

    So really it’s the S D Arena at (or in) St. James Park?

  • chris_g

    Feb 18, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    Comment #29

    MacToon // Feb 18, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    £10 million a year for naming rights, dream on!

    Exactly. And in any case, it was reported at the time that the £10 million p.a. was the total amount they were hoping to get for shirt AND stadium sponsorship, not just for the latter:

    “Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias says the club can generate up to £10m a season by attracting a joint shirt and stadium sponsor”

  • MacToon

    Feb 18, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Comment #30

    chris_g, and to think his sports cruddy direct are getting it all for free! Something wrong there, not as if Ashley owns 100% of the tat shop.

    I heard that £2 mil would be it’s value so if what you say or rather Llambias says is right, about £10 mil for both shirt and stadium, that would make the naming rights valued around £2million a year!

    Not alot really but hey, will it ever happen or are we stuck with this tat shop advertising defacing our great stadium for years to come.

  • chris_g

    Feb 18, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Comment #31

    MacToon – that figure of £2 mil could be about right – I noticed this interesting paragraph in one of the articles I was reading earlier:

    “Andy Westlake is the chief executive of the sponsorship and management firm Fast Track and advises clients including Emirates, which signed a successful shirt and stadium deal with Arsenal in 2004. The deal was worth £6.5m a year in shirt sponsorship and only about £2.75m in naming rights.”

    In that example the shirt deal was worth more than twice that for the naming rights, but I don’t know if that would be a typical ratio for a premier league club. Maybe the shirt deal was worth a lot more because it was Arsenal, regularly playing in Europe etc?

    Anyway, here’s a link to the article if you want to have a read:

  • MacToon

    Feb 18, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Comment #32

    An interesting read, cheers chris_g.

  • stuart no9

    Feb 18, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Comment #33

    chris g @31 i think this article proves, to me anyway , that what ashly is doing is wrong. the whole naming rights and signage fiasco need never have gone ahead.our history has been ripped apart for 1 man and his greed for success for a tacky cheap shop. how sad is that?

  • Charlietoon

    Feb 18, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Comment #34

    I think it’s a clever move money wise. No one wants to sponsor the stadium and be the one to take over from the ST James name. Now that Mike has done that whoever comes in and actually sponsors the place will be welcomed as they are not replacing St James, the are replacing Sports Direct, and we all want that to happen 🙂

  • rich_toonfan

    Feb 18, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Comment #35

    i don’t understand why people are so upset….people wouldn’t complain if it was the etihad stadium and we got £400 mil from the sponsor…its not the history people complain about as such but the lack of money we get for loosing our history…..but at the same time we all call it st james park and so do most on tv still so no real harm.

    I think the way Ashley is running the club is good, buy cheap and develop but also buy cheap experience too (cabaye and ben arfa both winners, same as santon) it bodes well for the future.

    Rather us be like this than keep going how we used to and end up like leeds or portsmouth. In reality most teams wont challenge the top boys in the league, the best we can hope over next few years is 4th, gradually build and see where we end up….its silly to expect us to win the league, ideally push for a cup and get as high in the league as we can

  • jumpinjonas

    Feb 18, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Comment #36

    I think there is a compromise that can be made regarding the name change. In America, The famous Boston Celtics, had a very prestigious “Boston Garden” but when another arena was built the name changed. Upon realizing that they wanted a sponsor and the famous “Boston Garden” back, a contract was made with a sponsor to change the name to “The TD Banknorth Garden” but after an agreed upon period of time, the sponsor would relinquish their part of the name, and it finally returned to “The Boston Garden.” Is there a way they could make this type of compromise for St. James’ because that would be the best of both worlds.

  • moonraker

    Feb 18, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    Comment #37

    Well I agree totally with the woman because as I’ve said in many previous posts about this ground renaming fiasco, St James’ Park carries huge prestige.

    Regarding Mike Ashley’s business accumen, the one thing he doesn’t have is a reputation for quality and that aint gonna improve with the tatty signs going up at SJP, so I think he is missing a trick here.

    SJP is an iconic figure and Ashley could have used that if he linked it with his company name.

    Ah well what will be… I’m still smarting over the Spurs result; the next 2 games are crucial to the remainder of the season. Pardew is definitely to blame for the Spurs hammering; even Wolves stifled them and Pardew made a big mistake not filling the midfield when we were under strength!

  • AndyMac

    Feb 18, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    Comment #38


    “i don’t understand why people are so upset….people wouldn’t complain if it was the etihad stadium and we got £400 mil from the sponsor”

    Yeah but its not and we’re not even getting 1 penny from Sports Direct, as they’re just “showcasing” the Stadium Name for potential future sponsors.

    Yeah right and if you believe that then you’ll need to know a Lancaster bomber’s been found on the Moon 🙁

  • stuart no9

    Feb 18, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    Comment #39

    rich- toonfan @35 ” its not the history people moan about, but the lack of money” how do you know? i for 1 am not bothered about the money , i would rather have our heritage. get your facts right young man.

  • wynsleap

    Feb 18, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    Comment #40

    Thank the Lord for Andymac and Stuart No.9 on here.
    After some of the absolute tripe written on here in support of Ashley I thought the lunatics had taken over the asylum.


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