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What's in a name?

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Dan Walker | 18:12 UK time, Thursday, 10 November 2011

Hello good people of the world. The most important thing to tell you is that Football Focus is on BBC2 on Saturday at 1130 GMT. We are caught in a formidable broadcasting triangle which involves F1 qualifying in Abu Dhabi and The Lord Mayor's Show. You don't come out of that without a few bruises.

It's been an interesting week at the new home in Salford with the vast majority of the BBC's football operation having moved up here. We just need Gabby Logan and the Final Score warriors to complete the set. They arrive in a couple of weeks.

There was something quite beautiful about walking into the production office last Saturday to see Alan Hansen lounging freely on his sofa watching the second-half of Newcastle's win over Everton. For a moment, at least, all was right with the world.

St James' Park

St James' Park will now be known as the Sports Direct Arena. Photo: Press Association

Talking of Newcastle, I was a guest on the Tony Livesey show on Wednesday night when I heard the news about St James' Park, or should I say, The Sports Direct Arena. I am not a head-in-the-sand football supporter but I do feel there is something deeply unsettling about the commercialisation of the beautiful game.

I don't have a problem with new stadia being sponsored. The Emirates, The Reebok or The Ricoh Arena all work but St James' Park has well over a century of history wedged into it and all this leaves a sour taste in the Geordie mouth.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley had actually gone a few months without a PR disaster. The team are doing well, the manager is handling things expertly and now, as they prepare to face Manchester City, Manchester United & Chelsea in their next three games, another little hand grenade has been tossed from the directors' box.

There are some who argue that it's a stroke of genius from Ashley - deflecting attention away from a potential future sponsor by taking the hit himself. Remember, there is a precedent. It was only two years ago that we were asked to use the mouthful '' when referring to the stadium.

Michael Vaughan, who was also a guest on the Livesey show, made the point that this is the way of the world and we just have to wise up and accept that it is what happens.

The problem is that fans are already messed about, marginalised and/or alienated by ticket hikes, kick-off times, prices within stadia and the lifestyle and behaviour of some of their heroes. You would think that at least history was sacrosanct, seemingly not.

We'll have to wait and see how all this pans out. Let's not forget that that Bradford City's stadium has had a couple of sponsors but everyone still calls it Valley Parade. I can't see paid up members of the Toon Army queuing for the Gallowgate or gathering in Shearer's Bar referring to the 'SDA' or anything equally crass.

I'm sure Newcastle fans will get over the gentle barracking from Exeter City supporters. I'm sure they won't be affected by jokes suggesting the lobby of the Sports Direct Arena will now be filled with golf umbrellas, old red England kits and £2 footballs. But changing the name will hurt, and it should.

There is no Premier League game at St James' Park (see what I did there) this weekend due to the international break but we still have a very tidy Football Focus for you.

It's been an interesting week for preparation for England. We'll have a camp report as they prepare to face Spain and we'll hear from Liverpool's Pepe Reina on what makes the world champions tick.

We'll have reaction from the Euro 2012 play-off between Estonia and the Republic of Ireland and goals from Scotland's friendly against Cyprus. We'll also be talking to Craig Bellamy as Wales take on Norway - he has an interesting take on Team GB.

The highest paid footballer in the world - Samuel Eto'o - will give us an insight into his new life in Russia and Russell Grant has the lowdown on the first round of the FA Cup. I'll warn you now, he has a remarkable depth of knowledge when it comes to non-league football.

We'll see you at 1130 on BBC2. If you have any questions or comments stick them below and you can find me on twitter at


  • Comment number 1.

    First in wow! I have not commented for two weeks since I didn't feel I had anything to add, and I was too busy getting ready for New England's white tail rut.

    St James' Park will not be SDA for long. Bad mistake- and I have no dog in any Geordie fights. A mark of modern genius is seen in a man who can bring together commercial interest and historicity that surrounds the sport- which clearly is not taking a much venerated place name and slapping a web address before or after it. Have to give this some more thought....
    WHAT ABOUT THE St. JAMES SDA STADIUM" Hmm... no good to many conflicting religious connotations, St. James and Seventh Day Adventists.

    I'd love to hear what Bellamy has to say a bout Team GB and Norway for that matter, I'll even keep an open mind on Mr. Grant and his opinions on non league, even though it would be tempting to adopt an ad-hominem disapproval.

    Ohh, and F1 wins over the Lord Mayor's parade any day.

  • Comment number 2.

    What's in a name .............. Money....end off.

    It'll always be referred to as St James' Park (and the media will have a big part to play in that... no pressure!)

    Dan you need to have words with the head of the BBC big lad. Who do they think they are putting you to BBC2.

    Even as a Norn Iron supporter, I'd love to see the ROI make it through the Euro's. Afterall, the ROI are using half our born and bread players. Estonia robbed us in the group matches.

    Can you double check with Samuel Eto'o about his family tree. I've been doing my own research and I'm near sure there's a link to Northern Ireland. I'm not saying he would make it in the first 11, but it's always good to have options.


  • Comment number 3.

    @2 Made me chuckle that Eto'o wouldn't be guaranteed a starting position for NI!

    I can't stand the relentless commercialisation (is that a word?) that's going on. I'm sure there must be more sponsored names than there are historic ones, i.e. Emirates > Anfield

    Reebok, JJB, Sports Direct... any bets for the next name to fall?

  • Comment number 4.

    @3 Yes I think relentless commercialisation is the correct thing to say.

    You mention stadiums like the emirates and the reebok but they were completely new stadiums and had no identity, no real place at the heart of the clubs they were built for. The next stadium will be whenever a club gets a new one built, Liverpool have been on about it for years, it's only a matter of time before Anfield is no more, then Goodison will follow suit.

    You do wonder though if Mike Ashley is purposely trying to antagonise the Newcastle fans with his actions, seems odd that they're talking of sponsorship deals worth up to £10m a year yet technically Sports Direct and Newcastle is all funded by Ashley, he is in effect sponsoring himself, surely if he has the £10m a year to pump in as sponsorship he could do it anyway and not have thousands of irate Geordies on his case!

  • Comment number 5.

    @4 Good point about the new stadiums, but I would have preferred a more nostalgic name that reflects something relevant to the club in question.

    The only reason I think 'Emirates' can work is that it has a royal connotation.

    All the Reebok does is affilate you with Lewis Hamilton...

  • Comment number 6.

    It doesn't really matter what commercial name a club decides to plaster on their stadium, ultimately the fans will call it what they want. My own club, Leyton Orient, changed the name of its ground from the Leyton Stadium to the Matchroom Stadium many years ago, but in reality the fans still call the ground what they did before; Brisbane Road. There's even a song of that name in honour of it!

    So the Geordies will still call their ground St James' Park, and rightfully so.

  • Comment number 7.

    There are two sides to this.
    Ashley owns the club and can call it what he wants
    Toon fans pay the entrance fee and maybe fan groups should have been consulted.
    My own preference is that the older stadiums should be left as they are in name. The best thing fans can do is to lobby local media to help with the original name when broadcasting.

  • Comment number 8.

    Newcastle made the mistake of admiting that they need a new sponsor by end of December so that Puma can start making the shirts for next season.

    This weakens their bargaining position further, the price will now drop so low that even Northern Rock could afford to renew.

    If I was a multi millionaire wanting to raise my brand I'd set up a company called 'Ashley' and put it on the shirts. The Stadium of course would be put back to St James' Park faster than you can neck a bottle of brown ale.

  • Comment number 9.

    @3 Bj

    The Reebok company was actually started in a small village next to Bolton, hence the connections.

  • Comment number 10.

    Although the name is horrid (as are their adverts on the telly), perhaps this could be seen as wanting to show that the club are ambitious to press on and at the very least, maintain the position that they're currently in. With the economic situation as it is, building a new ground is unlikely to be viable, or go down well with the Newcastle supporters. Money is king in football (and most other sports sadly) so any potentially untapped resource is going to be taken up.

    Regardless of all that, it's refreshing to have a different team up there although clearly their big test is coming up in the next three games. If they could come out of them with say five points, then it will show they're potentially capable of staying there for the whole season and getting into Europe.

    Marie Antoinette

  • Comment number 11.

    Okay, so SportsDirect only makes it 5 sponsored names.

    But it's not hard to imagine a much higher proportion in the near future.

    AON Trafford, Samsung Bridge, or The Tombola!

  • Comment number 12.

    I understand that Newcastle have made a significant amount of money from player sales, but what are their finances overall like?

    I wonder if Mike Ashely is daring to dream about Europe. Instead of investing £10 Million, he is putting it in the books as sponsorship income and thus making the Newcastle accounts look healthier. Could this be to help ensure that the club don't fall foul of Euro financial fair play rules should they actually go and qualify?

  • Comment number 13.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 14.

    Good blog as always Dan.

    It's clearly because re-naming the stadium based on the 'sponsorship' of his firm means sports direct will be able to write it off against tax.. A 'loophole' which is being exploited if you will...

  • Comment number 15.

    I think the BBC should behave in the same manner as the Olympics and FIFA on this matter. So Arsenal would be Ashburton Grove, City would be Eastlands, Coventry would be City of Coventry Stadium etc. I doubt the fans would be too upset.

  • Comment number 16.

    Surely this is a clever play by Ashley, Take the fans ire by renaming with his own company name = publicity for sports direct.

    Now he can start looking for a sponsor to sell the naming rights to. It will be a more attractive proposition to a sponsor if they are not the ones initially desecrating the stadium name?

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm looking forwards to a camp England report - is Alan Carr presenting it?

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    10m a year to get rid of years of tradition, bah what a joke, and what will 10m a year get you in the premiership these days, dog all is what, im not a toon fan but feel for them under Ashleys chairmanship, how funny would it be if no one turned up at their next home game in protest, wont happen ..but just imagine ..

  • Comment number 20.

    So pulling down a stadium, building houses on the site, putting up a new stadium somewhere else and calling it anything is fine. Simply changing the name of St James's Park is messing with history.

  • Comment number 21.

    Well what an episode that was, you could almost call it penultimate.

    You know if it had been the second to last one.

    But alas brother Chester will have a fair few more to come.

    Anyway, dan, I feel out of touch, let me take a step, there, that's better.

    I'm opening a new acne embracing theme park and in order to drum up business I'm looking to sponsor a football league ground. Wonder if the Rochdale fans would complain.

    I have to keep it blog relevant and that's the best you're getting!

    Archibald crater face
    President of spotland attractions.

  • Comment number 22.


    Got me thinking about other grounds and which company could sponsor / rename them:

    Man Utd - DFS (pay nothing for years!!)
    Arsenal - Silentnight
    Accrington - Poundland
    Oldham - Iceland

    any others ???

  • Comment number 23.

    "It's been an interesting week for preparation for England. We'll have a camp report as they prepare to face Spain". Exactly how camp will this report be? Slightly camp or the full Winton?

    Either way, sounds good...

  • Comment number 24.

    Well, Jeff Stelling has stated and said he'll continue to call the stadium St James' Park on air, Dan, so will you and your BBC colleagues do the same - or will NU order yourselves and other sections of the media to call it by its new name?

  • Comment number 25.

    unless its a sponsored piece they dont have to, end of.

    I understand the sentiment but unfortunately sentiment gets you nothing these days as unfortunately football is as much a business as it is a game nowadays.

    What MA has done is perhaps set up the club to sold to an even bigger owner/business who then will see the marketing potential of being able to call it "fill in your name here" stadium. Its always St James Park, and always will be to football fans.

  • Comment number 26.

    @5 I can see where you're coming from with that and I do wonder what will happen when these sponsorship deals run out, will we then see stadiums changing their name to fit in with other sponsorship deals such as The JJB being renamed The DW (both Dave Whelans companies by the way so think that might be vanity as much as anything).

  • Comment number 27.

    I really do fail to see the problem here. Football, for right or wrong, is now a commercial enterprise rather than a sport. Gone are the days of "genuine" football people running their home town clubs, most succesful teams these days have to have a commercially astute person in charge.

    Newcastle fans will always refer to the stadium as St James' Park, regardless of whether it's called the Sports Direct Arena or the Tampax Ultra stadium, it matters little in the grander scheme of things. What does matter in football, more so now than ever before, is that teams start to live within their means.

    Mike Ashley may not be everyone's cup of tea (to put it midly) but he is a shrewd, calculating and very succesful businessman. You don't build a multi-million pound business empire on pure luck, he has had to work to where he is now and i think the Newcastle fans should put a lot more trust in what he is trying to do.

    Relegation needn't be the death sentence so many think it is. In Newcastle's case it allowed to things two happen, firstly they had an opportunity to shed the deadweight of over paid and over hyped players. Secondly it reset the ridiculous over-expectations of Newcastle United fans.

    Finally they were a team that could being to build again without the pressures of trying to be a top 6 team when, blatantly, they're not.

    Ashley has provided funds when needed, he's brought in a manager he can trust (and a vastly underrated manager might i add) and surrounded himself with people of equal ambition and understanding of what it takes to build a commericial success, transferring this to a football team is not easy but i think they are now beginning to show it can be done.

    Newcastle United lived beyond their means for far too long, Ashley has brought the stablility needed to grow and slowly, but surely, the club has done exactly that. Anyone for instance that could negotiatie a £35m transfer fee for Andy Carroll is a genius as far as i am concerned.

    The renaming of St James' Park is another step in helping Newcastle balance the books in the short term and provide another revenue stream in the long term. With sustained and shrewd investment on the player side of things (Ba, Cabaye, Tiote are fantastic players bought for chicken feed when compared to what other teams will pay for less talented players) i can see a genuinly bright future for Newcastle United.

    I hope that the Newcastle fans will let Ashley, Pardew and the players get on with what they are doing and not bring unrest by needless (and pointless, as Ashley will always do what he thinks is right) protests on matchdays.

    And before anyone says it. No i would not be opposed to some sort of sponsorship of Old Trafford, the vast sums of debt accumalated by the Glazers has to paid off sooner rather than later and if a corporate sponsor of the stadium can help then so be it. It will always be Old Trafford to Man Utd supporters regardless. Just as St James' Park will always be known as such by Newcastle fans.

  • Comment number 28.

    Excellent news about Jeff Stelling, Jason.
    Now Dan, will you commit to doing likewise?

  • Comment number 29.

    "We'll have a camp report..."

    Is Dale Winton working of Football Focus now?

    As to the naming issue, people should just get over it. Things change, that's life, big whoop.

  • Comment number 30.

    A few of you have pointed out that this is a clever business move by Ashley and you're right, but for quite different reasons...

    The total sum for advertising of SportsDirect currently paid in the Newcastle United coffers is the rather extortionate sum of...£50k...

    That includes everything from the roof sticker to the SD logo on the tickets.

    When no-body comes in to sponsor us by December the club will release this:

    "We had hoped to secure a further sponsor in the window, in addition to Puma. Work to bring a Sponsor into the club began early in the summer. Negotiations were complex and protracted and unfortunately it was disappointing that ultimately we could not secure our priority target.

    "Whilst we did turn our attention to alternative prospects in the latter stages of the window, we have a very clear Sponsorship policy and will not make knee-jerk decisions at the last-minute which are not in the best interests of the club. We understand that supporters will feel frustrated that we did not sign another Sponsor during the window, but it was not for lack of trying that we did not bring our final target in."

    Familiar at all...It's the statement used when we did bring in a striker (with the odd word subtracted or replaced).

    When this happens, Newcastle's board will be forced to use SD as their main shirt sponsor and keep the SDA as their supposed new stadium name.

    And all for, I repeat, £50k a year!

  • Comment number 31.

    It's a shame that footballing history can so easily be overlooked, but the truth of the matter is that it can. No use crying over spilt milk.

    The only worry I have about this is that it may distract the club from the business of playing football at their highest possible level at the time when they need it most, with matches against the rest of the top four in quick succession. If the players have an off day the blame will instantly fall on Mike Ashley for causing such a massive distraction and throwing the team off.

    Next historic stadia to fall: Anfield, Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane, sadly for all us Spurs fans. It'll happen.

  • Comment number 32.

    Personally, I think Newcastle fans should be happy - it's going to be very productive for the club.

    The timing of it is spot on......Look at their next 3 games - City,Manu, Chelsea! What better World shop window to promote the club with the global TV coverage of those games? Ultimate exposure to get a big investor/name to the stadium!

    They need the money! They are never going to compete with the Liverpool & Man u world marketing. But this will certainly help to put them on the map.

    Well done Ashley I say.

  • Comment number 33.

    It will always be St James' Park, whatever its now called.

    Irrespective of what its called by present or future sponsor, the fact that when you travel there, its historic name is immortalised in the Metro station you arrive at to get to the ground - St James', with the station decked out in teh balck and white team colours.

    As long as that stays, then fans will still have the link to its history (and as long as the Metro owners don't try and get a share by renaming the station also!)

  • Comment number 34.

    Brilliant business plan by Mike Ashley, after his admittedly disasterous nil-due diligence, purchase of the club - get a few quid into the club via a (note to Man City) realistic own-company sponsorship deal and then flog shirt/stadium sponsor for £8 mil PA - looks good for FFP rules and is an easy, probably tax efficent method, of putting cash into the club.

    Personally I think a new sponsor might "advise" that they'll put the SJP back in e.g. "sponsorname SJP stadium" but that'll be one for the future.

    I only hope we don't get a booze company, online betting company or Greggs.

    Good ideas for the ground name though (if I win Euromillions and decide to buy a years worth of naming rights for a laugh); New Trafford, Toon Army Barracks, Byker Grove Arena or The Sue Sweeny, Princess of the North, Memorial Stadium. LOL.

  • Comment number 35.

    Who cares about this stadium rename? You can call it whatever you want, let Ashley do what he like with his little plaything.
    Anyway, the old name had a grammatical error, so it can't be a bad thing.

  • Comment number 36.

    echo what 6 says, it's still st james to the fans so really more money for the club that isnt gona make a difference really. when a stadium like st james gets renamed, i wonder if anyone actually thinks hmm i'll go visit sports direct now and buy stuff. always wondered how a sponsor makes money back from paying a football club to rename it's stadium after whichever franchise it is.

  • Comment number 37.

    Always thought Sid James Park summed it up better.....

  • Comment number 38.

    36. Meido

    As i stated earlier, this will be written off against tax for Sports Direct so therefore the sponsorship isn't costing anything....

  • Comment number 39.

    Lets be honest.. this isn't going to stop people calling the stadium St James' Park - but this could be clever business by Ashley as the FFP system comes into effect! especially with Newcastle knocking on Europes door!

  • Comment number 40.



  • Comment number 41.

    I'm not especially fussed that they've changed the name of the ground. As has been said, everyone will still call it St James' Park. It's not surprise that Sky will, they don't even mention the sponsors of the leagues most of the time.

    My problem is the name they've gone for: Sports Direct Arena. An arena is indoors, should have been Sports Direct Stadium.

  • Comment number 42.

    "@39 Lets be honest"

    It's not going to bring newcastle any trophies is it? maybe with sports direct, with all the returned items they can be used as rags to dust the empty trophy cabinet down

  • Comment number 43.

    Is right Wavertreenook.....and you're not too far from me either. Just off Rocky Lane..

  • Comment number 44.

    Come on BBC aren't you supposed to be ad-free? Is it asking too much for you to continue to refer to stadia by their original, non-sponsored names? Or at least allow your commentors and journalists to have the choice if they want to stand with the fans on this one.

  • Comment number 45.

    22 yeah City, "the council house"

  • Comment number 46.

    Very sneaky of Newcastle to announce the renaming during an international window. Especially a couple of days before an England game against the World champions and the Euro 2012 playoffs. Also to add to that Newcastle don't play at home again until December 3rd. By then they will have played Man Utd and Man City away.

    Have Newcastle employed Alastair Campbell as their new PR boss?

  • Comment number 47.

    Good article Dan, but we beat you to it (and the title!) on our blog

    Have a look at the article from yesterday here.

  • Comment number 48.

    Mike Ashley as an alledged fan of Newcastle Utd will go down in the club's history for having comitted one of the nastiest, cynical, greedy and idiotic thing that anyone has ever done to the club. I could understand it if it were one of the foreign businessman who are busily trying to extract the soul from uk football but a supposed fan?????!!!$£!@??!!?

  • Comment number 49.

    43.At 12:44 11th Nov 2011, Keith Mc wrote:
    Is right Wavertreenook.....and you're not too far from me either. Just off Rocky Lane..

    Is right Keith! My old school teacher mr coyne lived on rocky lane from st ozzies in the swan

  • Comment number 50.

    Call me old fashioned..but I hate all this naming garbage!
    The game sold out to TV 20yrs ago and sold their shirt's 10yrs before that. The ground was always seen as sacrosanct,the fans place of worship.
    At my beloved United,the Stretford End is ,for official purposes,known as the West Stand. Horrible.
    No doubt the parasites in Florida are viewing the Newcastle move very carefully,indeed, already counting the money!

  • Comment number 51.

    Mike Ashley has gone about this in all the wrong way IMO. Yet again, he's alienated the Newcastle supporters who he needs to win over. NEVER underestimate the power of the fans. Their opinions, feelings and support are EVERYTHING to the football club, and renaming their home for something which has no historical value, and quite frankly is ugly, will only further lengthen the divide between the owner and the fans. Mike Ashley is merely a custodian of the football club.

    If he'd have wanted more money to buy players, he should have invested the Andy Carroll money for a start. Where has that gone? Didn't he promise it for the transfer kitty? Frankly, he's only done it because Newcastle are going so well. They've had a surprisingly good start and the feeling must be good in the North East that he thought now would be the time to rip the carpet from underneath their feet.

    What he should have done, IMO, would be to rename his sportswear company 'St James' Sports'. Essentially what this deal does is legitimately transfer funds from one of his assets to another. Feasibly, he could fund this out of his own pocket, but he wouldn't. So, who cares more about what: customers of chavvy Sports Direct or the fans (the FANATICALS) of Newcastle United? Let's be honest, the customers don't care what the shop is called, as long as they can get cheap shoes and balls, they're not batting an eyelid. The Newcastle fans? Well they're taking great offence, and rightly so. If Old Trafford or Anfield were renamed after a commercial brand, let alone a brand so cheap and unglamorous as Sports Direct, then there'd be uproar. There'd be protests and demands for change. I only hope the Newcastle fans get their feelings known.

    Mike Ashley has been nothing short of a disgrace as an owner of Newcastle, and this further shabby treatment of the supporters (his most important asset of the club) is pretty disgusting.

  • Comment number 52.

    Well a good sponsor would be ASDA, as proved by the stadiums current name, Ashleys Sports Direct Arena.

    Anyone know how the players and staff have responded to this, as it's a big joke in the North East and the maccums are probably loving this.

  • Comment number 53.

    The stadium re-name would be a big deal if they were a big club. At the same level with Bolton and Stoke etc, re-names provide you with a bit of money to keep you in the league.

  • Comment number 54.

    Before neutral fans jump the gun and start having a go at Newcastle fans for being angry with the stadium name-change, please read post 30 by Jesus Was a Geordie. Absolutely spot on. People are having a go at displeased NUFC fans saying they should be happy with the £10m per season mentioned. Only there is a problem. That £10m mentioned in the press is the imaginary figure floated by Llambias. Even Arsenal don't get that amount per year from Emirates so why would any company worth their salt sponsor a stadium that the fans don't want renamed?

    I have been in the minority of Newcastle fans in that I have been fairly pro-Ashley despite many of his mistakes. But there is proof that he lies to the fans. The club admitted they lied to the fans IN COURT at Keegan's dismissal tribunal. They then said 2 years ago when they changed the stadium name to James' Park that St James' Park would always remain in the stadium name during their reign. LIE. They then said Carroll would not be sold. LIE (albeit and understandable one). They said the Carroll money would be reinvested in the squad. LIE (They soon changed the word 'squad' to 'club'). They said another striker would definitely sign in the summer (after Ba's arrival) LIE. They disbanded the Level 7 singing section and promised to relocate those affected in an area in the lower tier of the stadium. Yet another LIE.

    So forgive me and other Newcastle fans for being sceptical about the name change. If it were guaranteed that the club would receive a sponsor who renamed the stadium (Adidas Arena for example) and paid £10m per season for the privilege then I think you'd find a fair few fans would be a lot less angry (but still angry) about the name change. In reality, Ashley is setting it up for it to be called the Sports Direct Arena long-term. He sits in a win/win situation. If a company offers their ridiculous asking price, he'll take it. But he knows no-one will risk the PR disaster and will continue to call it the Sports Direct Arena whilst paying next to nothing for the privilege.

    So neutral fans, please consider that before jumping on the 'deluded, unrealistic Geordies' bandwagon. Cheers.

  • Comment number 55.

    This has already been mentioned above, but surely the is no need to change the name. Ashley has changed it to gain £10m a year sponsorship for Newcastle from Sports Direct. Ashley owns Sports Direct and Newcastle United. Surely he could have made Sports Direct a kit sponsor similar to the deal that Manchester United have with DHL? Then Newcastle would recieve the money, Sports Direct would have the publicity (granted, not as much as the naming of the stadium but this would save alienating the fans) and everyone is happy?

    Or am I missing something?

  • Comment number 56.

    Video of how Ashely came to the decision to rename St James' Park:

  • Comment number 57.

    The thing is Newcastle are gonna struggle to find a sponsor. Just judging by the uproar already any sponsor would become infamous in the football world, and it would surely do their brand more damage than good. And if no one is even going to call it by it's sponsored name anyway, what is the point for prospective companies?!

  • Comment number 58.

    Ashley can't force fans to call their ground what he wants and they won't do so. However, it's possible the Newcastle fans might learn some new names for him....

  • Comment number 59.

    Sadly Dan, you lose your emphasis when you make the normally valid point about ticket hikes. Let's not forget that Ashley REDUCED prices. That means REDUCED income to the club. It is a temporary name change and one that Ashley has paid the not too shabby price of £139,000,000 for the privilege of being able to change the name of the ground at the once hideously debt laden club?. Is that a point that No 30 would rather ignore so that he can make reference to the significantly smaller sum of £50k?

    There is a simple solution to fans that don't like this commercialism. Buy the club!! Can't afford to? So would you rather risk the club ceasing to be than have a new name for the ground (and one which you'll never use in conversations in any case)?

  • Comment number 60.

    This is just free publicity, albeit massively negative, but publicity nonetheless. He's put his own company's name on the stadium as an example as to what sponsor's could get, yet without actually paying a penny for it I believe. Thinking of it that way, any director or chairman of a company with funding necessary to sponsor a football team must be feeling pretty insulted by all this. Why would a person intelligent enough to make it to the top in business need to see an example of how a stadium could be named? Odd. The only thing odder than that is that he actually believes that a company would be willing to ride the wave of discontent associated with such a sponsorship - or does he?

    #59, the football club is a part of the community, it would always exist - bankrupt or otherwise. St. James' Park isn't actually owned by the club anyway is it? How can they go about changing the name of a stadium they don't even own?

    Perhaps we could change the name of the sports shop in a similar fashion?

  • Comment number 61.

    Why didn't Mike Ashley simply use 'Sports-Direct' on the shirts to sell 'sports-wear' and use 'Northern Rock' on the Stadium...much better fit - fans might like it being called 'The Rock'? (By the way is there anything like bad publicity as far as Mr.Ashley is concerned?)

    Everything is commercialised now. Seriously does anyone really think those Nike sponsored players blazoned over the tabloids wearing 2cm size Poppies on their boots were for anything but the sportswear giant's or the player's individual gain? Has Nike/those players or the tabloids given a fat cheque to the British Legion for the free advertising?

    Man.U. might regret naming that stand after Sir Alex last week if 'Poundland' come calling? One genuine question - are the beeb contractually obliged to use the new naming rights under their contract with the Premier League or can they just use the PROPER names the fans want?

  • Comment number 62.

    If there is such a thing as the Geordie nation then Mike Ashley is a traitor to its heritage. I say this as the grandson of a mackem.

  • Comment number 63.

    Nice discussion on the historical/ethical aspect of renaming an old ground but what about the financial angle?
    Is this an attempt to further Ashley's business?
    How does it relate to future/past stadia renaming with regard to trying to skirt new fIFA rules?
    Tax write-off?

  • Comment number 64.

    Dan, welcolme to Manchester hope the nose bleeds have stopped for you southerners!
    Just posted this to FIFA: THAILAND v SAUDIS. The end of this match was a disgrace. The ref had no idea of who to book, there were lots of players let of without getting red and yellow cards. Please take action against these especially the number 7 for saudi shocking 2 footed challenge and kick in the free for all.
    Much worse than Rooney's kick but who will get 3 match bans?

    Wondering if you and the boys had any views as of this was rooney and England massive bans would follow?!

  • Comment number 65.

    A "Snickers" chocolate bar will always be a "Marathon" chocolate bar to me. It's a matter of taste (no pun intended) and probably related to what era you grew up in, and allied to the heritage of the club itself. I suppose you could compare Mike Ashley to a prostitute, as long as the money is good - who cares what the client looks or sounds like! The full name change was first proposed on the 27 October 2009, and was adopted until the end of that season. That would have meant the St James' Park logo would have been changed to '​ark'. Whether it was the objections of vociferous fans, or the realisation that the @ symbol in German referred to a Spider Monkey gave them a change of heart, of that I'm not at all certain. Officially, @ St James' Park Stadium is still registered as a going concern, but who gives a toss. The laughable and crass statement to come out of the "hierarchy" was that the £8-£10 million raised will buy you a striker. Even a man of Mr Llambias' exaggerated talents should realize that at best, It's just papering the cracks. If the money is genuinely to be spent on players (hark back to the promises of the Andy Carroll cash) then all it will do is stabilize the club in the premiership, with no better prospects other than a top 10 finish this season, and in the long term, if the club is managed correctly, then maybe a European qualification - but certainly not a title. The gulf in status/class of several other teams in the pecking order will see to that. In reality, that's business - or "sport" for want of a better word.

  • Comment number 66.

    Always thought the wolves should get the stadium sponsored by a french electrical retailer so they could change the name to the Moulinex Stadium.


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