Who on earth would buy the naming rights for St James’s Park?

Posted on October 29th, 2009 | 82 Comments |

Anusol Arena? Pizza Hut Park?
Anusol Arena? Pizza Hut Park?
Of course, Mike Ashley’s recent announcement that Newcastle United will be seeking bidders for ‘naming right’s’ to the stadium formerly known as St James’s Park is somewhat ‘controversial’ to say the least. Indeed, many very strong views have been expressed already, including in this ‘blog. Petitions have been prepared, there have been rumblings of more demos and the mood is even more fractious than usual.

There is also another question that comes to mind, to the mind of this writer anyway; who on earth would want to step into what could be one of the most controversial deals in the history of corporate sponsorship? Until now, the naming rights for the stadiums of larger clubs have been restricted to new builds such as the ‘Reebok’ in Bolton, the ‘Emirates’ in North London, the ‘JJB’ / ‘DW’ in Wigan and several others. So far, so uncontroversial. However, large established names with large historic grounds such as Manchester United with Old Trafford, Liverpool with Anfield etc have so far resisted the temptation to sell naming rights despite their owners being under great financial pressure with debt and the spiralling inflation prevalent at the top of the football world. Of course, a biggest part of this is that their names have attained an iconic status within football over a very long period like, dare I say it, the big elephant on the hill that is St James’s Park itself. Certainly, it would be seen as sacriligeous and far too controversial in many quarters, and would probably be more trouble than it is worth.

Another aspect was also touched on by a story in the Mirror’s “Betting Blog” which asked the question:

But if nobody can be found to stump up £100million to buy the club it’s highly unlikely anyone’s going to pay £20million to associate their name with the ground?

While the £20 million figure seems to have been plucked from thin air, possibly suggested by Mike Ashley’s other announcement that he will be ploughing another £20 million into Newcastle United this year, it remains a pertinent question. If nobody wants to buy Newcastle United (except for one man who couldn’t really afford it), who would want to sponsor it, especially under such controversial circumstances? Rather than acheiving some kind of positive PR value, the sponsors would be stepping into a world that is mired in controversy and ill feeling, and could face demos from furious supporters who will not take kindly to the renaming of one of the city’s foremost landmarks. As with buying the club, in a post recession world that is positively groaning with corporate sports sponsorship opportunities, why pay what would undoubtedly be a very large sum for all this potential PR hassle?

Speaking to Tyneside ‘paper, the Chronic, Professor Richard Slack, principal lecturer in accounting and finance at Northumbria University’s Newcastle Business School said that he believed that Newcastle United would possibly realise a sum of around £3 million pounds per annum for a naming rights deal. To put this in perspective, UAE air carrier, Emirates reached a 15 year agreement for the renaming rights of Arsenal’s new Ashburton Grove stadium for a sum which roughly equates to £6.6 million per year in 2004. More recently, Bolton Wanderers reached an agreement with Reebok for naming rights to it’s stadium for a few which equates to around £1.2m a year, leaving Professor Slack’s estimate somewhere in the middle. However, as pointed out above, there is a crucial difference between those two examples and Saint James’s. They have used naming rights sponsorship as a way of covering the cost’s of new stadium construction, whereas with Newcastle United, the proposal is to rename a landmark which has been part of the very fabric of the city since 1892. A committed Leicester City fan (another club who play in a relatively new stadium which is name sponsored by Walker’s crisps), Mick Bembridge, touched on this difference when he said:

“It’s slightly different with us because we got a new ground and have always known it by its current name.

“But if the old Filbert Street had lost its name there would have been uproar. Some traditions have been around too long to mess about with and I can understand Newcastle fans being angry.”

Going back to Professor Slack, he also reflected on these concerns to the Chronic saying:

“The name St James’s Park is synonymous with the club and I can’t see that ever changing.

“A new name just wouldn’t catch on with supporters, people who live in the city and also people across the country. St James’s Park is Newcastle United in many people’s minds.

“For a sponsor to get anything out of taking naming rights they would have to be sure that their brand becomes an integral part of Newcastle United.”

So, in conclusion, I find it hard to see how the benefits would outweigh the risks for a sponsor getting involved in a venture such as this. Indeed, the bookmaker, William Hill, are offering odds of only 4/7 on the stadium still being named St James’s Park at the commencement of the season next year. Meanwhile, their favourites are Tesco at 16/1, Northern Rock at 20/1, and Mike Ashley’s own company, Sports Direct as third favourite at 25/1. Ladbrokes have their favourite, Adidas, at a mere 2/1, with Carling and O2 slotting in behind at 4/1 and 7/1 respectively. Time will tell but one things for sure, there will be a yet another right old kerfuffle if this plan ever looks like it is seriously going to happen.

NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1091 articles on this blog.

Related Posts:

82 Responses

  1. I just cant believe we are that desperate for a few quid in Ma’s terms, that this needs to be down unless it was a just a cheap dig the same as the “I put more money in” dig. But if it does go ahead I think it will be The Sports Direct Arena, Lonsdale Park or just Fat Mikes Casino ;)

  2. summerof69 says:
    October 29, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    “so worky are you for or against the name change ?

    im guessing you are ??”

    What makes you think that, 69?

  3. summerof69 says:
    October 29, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    “worky youre article seems slighty (and i do mean slightly) negative towatds the idea ??”

    I’m not for the idea at all, 69, not in a million years. Though I do understand some of the points that the pro renamers (Michael12 and of course, you know who) make.

  4. stardust is willing to let ashley sell our heritage for a poxy 2 mill a year,how is that going to make a diffrence,its not.

  5. worky, i haven t come across anyone who thinks its a good idea other than stardy. You wrote the article, do you support the idea or not? Are you wit him or agin him. High ham weighting.

  6. i wish someone would organise a demonstration against ashley before the next game. Why does everyone not join in the ‘ get out of our club song’. I often have to sing it alone in the gallowgate end. Stardy would hear us on the radio cos he doesnt go to the match.

  7. troy,this is ashleys way of sticking the knive into the fans(that includes you worky and stardust),ashley knows its a none starter.

  8. I’ve already answered that question, Troy. I’m not for it at all. Not SJP. I never liked it when he put that awful Sports Direct sign up either.

  9. get out of our club, get out of our club, you big fat cockney bastard, get out of our club! You dont go to the match, you dont go to the match, you little cockney stardust you dont go to the match.

  10. i work for the council and the club are in discussions with orange communications. This is not only the sponsorship of the ground but also the strip. The council have demanded talks with ashley as it is threatening the status of the city. Its the intention of ashley to change the colour of the strip to orange. Its clear he has been sickened by the fans taunting him. He apparently approached orange and offered them an unbeatable deal.

  11. worky,alot of bloggers see you as stardust’s side kick,organ and monkey springs to mind…look at ex you couldnt wait to back up stardust.

  12. troy stavers says:
    October 29, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    “Stardy would hear us on the radio cos he doesnt go to the match.”

    Troy, you and Stardy are both completely radged like. You’ve both said before that you see each other at games.

  13. the simple fact is stardust has gettin it complete wrong about ashley,he knows it but wont admit it.thats up to him thats his choice to make.

  14. worky what your views on ashley,do you think its time to make a stad or are you still hoping ashley will come good.

  15. bobby shafto- dont believe ashley would ever step over that line. My relation is high up at the council and i know thats true but according to him, orange are reluctant cos it may be bad publicity and shunned by north east customers.

  16. hitman says:
    October 29, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    “worky,alot of bloggers see you as stardust’s side kick,organ and monkey springs to mind…look at ex you couldnt wait to back up stardust.”

    hitman, I’m a highly independent thinker. I don’t think of it in terms of “sides”, unless the side is Newcastle United.

  17. This is the worst idea I have ever heard selling the name of St James Park , but I do think if it goes a head there will be a alot of interest in it

  18. thats bull worky and you know it,you saw stardust as the victum on eds blog and jumped reet into bed with him.you made that choice stick with it..excelsior where are you.

  19. hitman says:
    October 29, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    “worky what your views on ashley,do you think its time to make a stad or are you still hoping ashley will come good.”

    I think that Ashley has made some monumental mistakes. Beleive it or not, I was completely radged over Ashley when all the people who hate him now were gannin’ on about how great he was for bringing you know who back. However, I think the problems at the club go way beyond Ashley, and that he could even be a symptom rather than a cause. There is also the more ‘controversial’ side of my thinking. I think that the biggest mistakes he has made have either been one that the most of the fans agreed with when he made them. These were bringing back Keegan, and selling the club at the worst possible times, which I think you’ll agree, most fans were screaming at him to do, and still are.

    Because of those mistakes, we are now in a very unstable position and the thing we need more than anything else is continuity and stability and I support that. The last thing we need is more upheaval when we’re still recovering from the last bout of catastrophes.

  20. I dont think it will be renamed but if it had to be the NUST should buy it and name it the Sir Bobby Robson Arena

  21. so worky remeber pick carefully coz it will brake stardusts heart..are you pro ashley or anti ashley.

  22. Big Dave says:
    October 29, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    “I dont think it will be renamed but if it had to be the NUST should buy it and name it the Sir Bobby Robson Arena”

    I think that would be wrong Dave, and historically shortsighted. Much as I love Bobby Robson, he was never as big a part of Newcastle as Stan Seymour Snr and Joe Harvey. If the stadium was going to be named after any one individual, it should be one of those two.

  23. Hitman – you have my loyalties confused – I am neither pro or anti Ashley. I see good things he has done and poor things. I am Pro NUFC only.

    I try to restore balance to debates and point out facts continually missed by fans.

    As for being picked on – lol – I couldnt give two hoots Hitman. Its all part of the fun- I am not a victim – far from it.

  24. All it takes is a bit of uproar and no company worth its salt would touch it with a sh!ty barge pole wrapped in a spurs shirt. We are safe on this one except if that sports direct sign moves from the gallowgate to the east stand.

    It’s messing with history and no one would risk the backlash. A new stadium then fine but an existing one then MA can go FCUK himself with the formentioned barge pole.

  25. hitman says:
    October 29, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    “so worky remeber pick carefully coz it will brake stardusts heart..are you pro ashley or anti ashley.”

    I’m pro Newcastle United, hitman. Ashley is incidental.

  26. To every newcastle united fan:

    Your club does not exist anymore, mike ashley has took over and destroyed the club from the inside out. So why dont you all stop going to the matches and buying merchandise, and filling fat lads pocket with your money. Your not supporting nufc anymore, your supporting mike ashley. The fat, greedy twat is taking you all for muppets. Bouycot the matches and he will soon get the hint and get the fuck out of town…..or he might just put the club into administration……either way he will lose out.

  27. stardy thats what they dont get its all fun iam getting abuse for speaking to u so iam realy upset boo whoo iam being called a monkey :lol:

  28. Stardust says:
    October 29, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    “I am Pro NUFC only.”

    Oh FFS! You wrote that as well! Now we sound like boyfriends or something. :-)

  29. Batty @ 32 I agree I think that was just a wee dig. as I said before to change the name or colours would be sacrilege.

  30. “hitman says:
    October 29, 2009 at 10:32 pm
    stardust when did yo fall out of love wth the to”

    Actually Hitman without being disrespectful – you could argue my position is far more loyal to NUFC than yours. You allow personalities to affect your love, I dont I support NUFC as personalities come and go.

    Cheetah – sorry Batty – we have a job with an organ in Eldon Square tomorrow – bring your cap this time lol

  31. Its hilarious Worky – Troy now says that you and I are one and the same lol.

    He can tell lol.

  32. stardust i was the first person on eds blog to have me doubts about ashley,fk sake its the first thing i have won.

  33. stardy like u say i coudnt give a fck a mean hoots and ile be there at 8 on the dot could y bring me a tuna sandwich for me bate :lol:

  34. Stardust says:
    October 29, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    “Its hilarious Worky – Troy now says that you and I are one and the same lol.

    He can tell lol.”

    I’ve checked him oot Stardust. He’s not the person he seems to be at all.

  35. hitman says:
    October 29, 2009 at 10:39 pm
    dave,batty,stardust,worky..whens enough enough,.
    <<<< a divent kna

  36. batty can you remeber on eds blog when stardust wouldnt even say your name coz it made him feel sick..

  37. Hitman – time changes, things change, we have to move with time or be forever unhappy.

    I only object to change when there is dishonesty behind it. I appreciate some think Ashley is, but in my own view he is not, the real cancer at the club were Shepherd and the Halls – they could be stoned for all I care – Sir John started off well and ended up sitting back quite happy to let the fat man do the dirty work and rob everything from our future into his grubby pockets.

    The Shepherds should be thrown out of the city.

  38. Worky – he is a great lad – the biggest WUM in history but a great lad all the same.

    Hitman that was true – I had a hissy fit over Batty having a go at me about something he thought I had said about Jade Goody – I had a right lip on lol.

  39. yes hitman but lifes too short to keep falling oot with people and i was acused of being an asley lover last nite :lol:

  40. this is mad,stardust theres dishonesty happening right now with ashley,you chose to support one man over the toon,hows that working out for you

  41. Hitman I think to change the name is when enough is enough, But i dont think he would do it I think one of Ma’s faults is that he is like a spoilt wee child at times and says things that he doesnt truly mean. the same way my wee lads go’s when he gets grounded ” oh i dont love you anymore and im not your friend”.

  42. No Hitman – I didnt support – I just wouldnt join in a hate campaign which was based on supposition and rumour. I need reasons to hate, I wont just go along with a mass consensus without evidence. That happened to the Germans once.

  43. batty you have stockholmes son seek help,from what i remeber stardust slated you ,if thats ok with you then so be it.

  44. Dave – I never thought that before now – but your view was supported by Ashleys recent Times comments and the way he released his KK walk out statements.

  45. hitman says:
    October 29, 2009 at 10:54 pm
    batty you have stockholmes son seek help,from what i remeber stardust slated you ,if thats ok with you then so be it
    <<<<<aye and i have slagged you in the past but u still speak to is

  46. Hitman – Batty and I have a good laugh – not sure why youre upset with that?

    Bygones are bygones – Batty and i put our differences behind us a long time ago – he is the second most funny bloke on the blog (after Ginkoh)

  47. he sed he would ignore me and i was no better than the stuff he scrapes of his shoes but he rang me and groveled so i let it go :lol:


  49. Hitman – just remember in your match. youve got double 16 for the game – pretend I am sitting right in the middle of it – youll get it every time lol.

  50. Hitman – Excelsior can give every bit as good as he gets. I dont take a thing personally he says about me and I dont expect he does a thing I say about him. Debate can be sporting you know.

  51. Reeto offski – nice to get a night without Lander – that could be Troy – he has another character but wont say who it is (other than Number9)

  52. a dont think excelsor is speaking to me because of me reffing of the match the other day am a boverd

  53. What a brilliant bit of strategy this might be from Mr Ashley…. Think about it, what if this is purely a diversion. No one seems too concerned that he is now staying on as owner and has taken the club off the market. It seems strange that he happened to mention it at the same announcement as the sale news. It seems the least of anyones concerns that he is now keeping the club. I could be totally off the mark but it’s just a thought……

  54. woo hoo hoo. Stardy and batty go to bed at the same time. Isnt that nice. Which side of the bed do you sleep on stardy or are you spoons. Woo hooooo hoo hoooo.

  55. Aussie Magpie Fan says:
    October 30, 2009 at 3:08 am

    “What a brilliant bit of strategy this might be from Mr Ashley…. Think about it, what if this is purely a diversion. ”

    Or his PR company. Starnger things have happened.

  56. As I’ve said in other blogs…..

    A sponsor might be attracted if it decided it’s marketing Strategy aligned with that of the ownership of the club….

    Given that the FCB’s strategy is clearly to take the pi$$….It has to be Pampers or Tena Lady….

  57. Becoming quite an incestuous and boring little clique here.
    Yeah it`s the PC police or unofficial regulator, it`s about the re-naming folks, remember!