With so many clubs looking at stadium naming rights to boost Commercial coffers what do the fans think? The latest club to announced a naming rights partner is to be found for Newcastle's St James’ Park which will initially be renamed the Sports Direct Arena.
As with many other Premier League sides the move marks a change in commercial strategy by the club after it admitted that an original proposal had not proved attractive to potential partners. Newcastle had invited potential partners to link their brands to the St James’ Park name as part of a plan launched in October 2009. The historic Newcastle stadium name has known as St James’ Park since 1892.
Is nothing sacred as clubs move away from their heritage?
The move to rename the club's stadium with the brand of owner Mike Ashley's sports retail group, is bound to prove controversial amongst the fans, but managing director Derek Llambias stated it is essential to the club’s future plans. “Our aim for Newcastle United is to continue to deliver success for the fans and everyone associated with the club,” he told the club’s official website.
“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.”