The addition of a corporate brand to the Wembley name is likely to prove a highly controversial move with traditionalists pointing to the unique nature of the Wembley name. A naming rights deal could provide a lucrative revenue stream with the English Football Association (FA) still repaying the debt that it took on to build the £757 million facility.
The BBC states that parties involved in the negotiations are said to be sensitive about the name’s heritage and history, but a change to the naming structure could see a sponsor added to the venue’s official name beside or after ‘Wembley Stadium’. Venue operators and FA subsidiary, Wembley National Stadium Limited, have declined to comment on the talks.
While naming rights partnerships are now an acceptable part of football clubs developing new stadiums, the rebranding of an iconic ground such as Wembley would prove contentious. The decision of England Premier League club Newcastle United to rename its St James’ Park home as the Sports Direct Arena provoked fan protests when the move was announced in November. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s principal owner John W Henry last month hinted that the club could consider a naming rights deal for its Anfield home as it continues to wrestle with its stadium options.
FTD Director John Booth commented:
'Looking back, the time to bring the idea forward might have been before the stadium re-opened, but fans and the media in general may find it hard to change the habits of a life time - Wembley will always be Wembley.'