Llambias: St James’ Park name will always remain…

Posted on November 10th, 2011 | 41 Comments |

Derek Llambias: Absolutely full of it.
Derek Llambias: Absolutely full of it.
With the news that Newcastle United will be changing it’s name to “Sports Direct @ St James’ Park”, the Managing Director of the club, Derek Llambias, has sought to reassure fans that the St James’ Park name would remain so long as he and current owner, Mike Ashley “reigned” at the club.

Firstly though, he told BBC Radio Newcastle about how this would be a “showcase” to lure prospective outside sponsors would would bring much needed revenue into the club saying:

“We will showcase Sports Direct until the end of the season,” then adding:

“I’m sure we’re going to get a sponsor in for next season.”

When asked if the name “St James’ Park” would always remain, Llambias then reassured fans by responding:

“Absolutely. In our reign, absolutely.”

“It’s adding to it, and if it brings in a good chunk of money to the club, that goes straight to the team, then do you know what, it’s a revenue we should look at.”

As you may have guessed alredy, that was from a story two years ago. Seemingly, the club have received no revenue whatsoever from Sports Direct International PLC (a shareholder owned company which is entirely distinct from Newcastle United) for all the numerous signs which have been erected at the club in the intervening period. They have also recived nothing from any other souece for the stadium naming rights either. As I wrote when breaking this story yesterday, Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias will now be reneging on this promise to the fans, with the latter now officially announcing that they will after all be renaming Newcastle United’s home as “The Sports Direct Arena”, ending over 119 years of football history in the process.

Llambias’ latest volte-face, published on the official club site read:

“Our aim for Newcastle United is to continue to deliver success for the fans and everyone associated with the Club. 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.

“Naming the stadium the Sports Direct Arena helps up to showcase the opportunity to interested parties. We are now actively seeking a long-term sponsor wishing to acquire full naming rights for the stadium.

“Our shirt sponsorship deal with Northern Rock will also expire at the end of this season, which presents would-be sponsors with the opportunity to acquire both the naming rights and shirt sponsorship deals.”

Recently, Manchester City received a sum of around £400 million from United Arab Emirates airline company, Etihad, for the naming rights to their stadium. In two years of extensive Sports Direct branding of St James’ Park, including the previous botched attempt at renaming the stadium, the club has yet to receive a penny for all the publicity the tacky sportwear chain has received so far. It has also become apparent since that time that Ashley purchased the club as a vehicle to promote his Sports Direct brand to a worldwide Premiership audience all along. With each passing day this “showcase” idea seems to be ever more of a canard to decive fans, and I for one would be highly surprised if they reached an agreement on the stadium naming rights with another party, or receive any revenue from Sports Direct International PLC itself any time soon.

As a certain Mr.J.Rotten once said:

“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1093 articles on this blog.

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41 Responses

  1. Along with this name change had better be an expansion plan and say 10000 extra seats put in… That would be the bare minimum which would sell. The deal to me!!! Wtf I havent even been to St James’ yet and now it’s gettin changed to Sports direct arena??? No way im tellin everyone of my great plan to one day visit ”Sports direct arena”!!!


  2. I’m a NUFC fan from Malaysia… been to Newcastle only once in my life and never get the chance to get into the great big stadium that is St. James’ Park, just managed to get a look at it from outside… guess I have no emotional attachments to it BUT having to call a stadium that my beloved team plays week in week out other than SJP is utter ridiculous and lunacy….

    What is playing around in the head of those two Goons??? I have accepted all other bad decisions that they’ve made but this time they have gone way too far….

    I’m not sure how all the Geordies will react when the news is received but myself and hundreds of other NUFC fans here in Malaysia are truly seething….

    Sad, sad day for all of us….

  3. In this free market world it’s the duty of every family to maximise income streams. So far I have the dog rented out to an animal experiment lab for £10 a week, the cat’s pelt is being sized up for a hat, there’s an organised crime syndicate stashing swag in the garage and I’ve been offered £25 a night commission on the wife from an exotic escort agency doing toga parties. She in turn obtained a quote for a fiver for me for horsemeat – including my shoes – and the company will collect….

    Sounds sensible to me!

    Meanwhile the kids have left home for some reason?

  4. I wish to see NUFC progress the idea sounds sensible to me, they have obv tried to get sponsors in and failed IMO and either they see it them themselves or they have been told that the better deal is the complete package for sponsors.

    However let one thing always be known regardless of what signs or advertisements that are displayed it will ALWAYS be known as the GREATEST sporting arena in the world that is ST JAMES PARK

    Let’s hope this doesn’t detract from the team and the negative chants resurface

  5. I am sure the 2012 Olympics was always in Mike Ashley’s mind. The 2008 Olympic games in Beijing had a TV audience of 4.7 billion over the 17 days of events. Saint James’ Park is 1 of only 6 football venues for the Olympics and the only one at the moment to have a a rebranded name. SJP will host 9 games including a 1/4 final.

    Call me cynical but I bet a pound to a penny the rebranded name will still be the Sports Direct Arena come the Olympics.

    The fact that Fat Mike’s Sports Direct is not paying a penny for this is absolutely disgraceful!! Newcastle United, the team and it’s supporters deserve better. Sportd Direct should pay the huge sponsorship fee in line with the market that this premium advertising deserves.

  6. CALM DOW EVERYONE.. looks at the Emirates Stadium, Chelsea wanting to do the same etc… It’s a business trying to make money.

    To us it will always be St James.

    If we over react on this like every other toon story then we’ll

  7. Sorry trying to comment on phone while driving!

    It’s not the end of the world. Other clubs doing it everywhere.

    We are doing so well. Let’s all keep calm.

    To us it’s still St James!

  8. Nigeria Geordie says:

    November 10, 2011 at 7:58 am

    “Call me cynical but I bet a pound to a penny the rebranded name will still be the Sports Direct Arena come the Olympics.”

    Cynical perhaps Nigeria Geordie, but obvervant and astute too. Why didn’t I think think of that one? :-)

    Of course it will, and the club almost certainly will receive little or nothing for it.

  9. So what worky?

    I believe they will try and get a sponsor but if one doesn’t come then it will prob stay Sports Direct.

    It’s still St James to us!

  10. I don’t have words!!!! When they gonna change the Black and White Jersey. …. Maybe they should change the name to MIKE ASHLEY UNiTED

  11. Brettoon says:

    November 10, 2011 at 8:21 am

    “So what worky?

    I believe they will try and get a sponsor but if one doesn’t come then it will prob stay Sports Direct.”

    I’m sorry Brettoon, but this “showcase” thing is completely unnecessary and looks suspiciously like a scam dreamt up by hucksters, especially so when you see the amount of Sports Direct signage at SJP already.

    Tell me, how many other other clubs who’ve sucessfully sold naming rights had to showcase their stadiums beforehand? ;-)

  12. It will not be ‘sponsor’ named come the Olympics.

    They have to change it so its not a branded stadium.

    As with Coventry Stadium. Ricoh Stadium = City of Coventry Stadium.

  13. southafricantoon says:

    November 10, 2011 at 8:34 am

    “When they gonna change the Black and White Jersey”

    They almost have southafricantoon. The players all look like they’ve been run over by a truck with white tyres now!

  14. Personally, I think that its the other clubs….Spurs, Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool etc who will be just as worried about OUR name change.

    Because this will open the flood gates for other clubs… Guaranteed.

    The only way to stop this is for fans (or fan) to buy the rights to name it St James Park…but this never happens in say USA where stadiums are sponsored.

    Move with the times.

    But forever until we leave it, it will be knwon as SJP, ….FACT

  15. Worky , we need to get behind a campaign with BBC Newcastle , Metro Radio , Radio Tyneside etc , Journal and all our NUFC associated blogs to keep wor park called


    Wor Jackie Milburn would turn in his grave if he knew what gans on !! please worky lets DO something eh ??

    For all the old magpies , who needs these cocks
    re-naming wor shrine !!

  16. Yeah, lets protest and get NUFC back on the back pages for ALL THE WRONG REASONS AGAIN !!!!!

    Jesus, move with the times. Move on. For once, in a long time, we are only if the papers for goods reasons.

    Yes, Ashley will bring us to the back pages for this renaming thing. But YOU will keep it a top story if you whinge and moan too long.

    Fans moan about negative press, yet we are happy to generate it ourselves by ‘protesting’.

  17. Now, without wanting to upset anyone I have to say that if it brings money into the club then fine, do it, I`ll always call it St James` Park, regardless of who eventually gets the naming rights. What pisses me off is the fact that Sports Direct seem to be getting free publicity out of this, surely to appease the fans slightly, a little donation towards new players would help.

  18. I’m not too fussed.

    I’m sure there were people in the past who objected to adverts on players shirts. Don’t hear any complaints now.

    Renaming stadiums is a sign (no pun) of the times and a way to generate extra revenue and also to possibly circumvent the anticipated fair play rules.

    I don’t suppose we will see hordes of Man City fans demonstrating against their stadium name change when we visit them this Saturday.

  19. I know this is against what I am about to suggest as I am talking about it. We need to make a stand against these “business” mens strategy. We must simply ignore it, it will be advertised on all media and they will love it really, somehow we need to minimise what they want. I am not saying bury our heads in the sand, I am saying don’t give it any value, f*** them it is SJP and always wii be. I know this is almost impossible but I think we should not discuss it and reduce the value of the product they are trying to create. Sorry for rambling but that is it, if anyone mentions it to me I will change the subject and explain why.

  20. whAT is the best sponsor we could get, other than vaginal cleaning products and pile relief lotions? I guess we’d want a huge airline/arab company who could match a man city type bid:

    Lets say 300m, for 5 years.

    My maths aint great, but that 60m a year cud be spent straight on transfers?? or does it just cover wages….but then tv rights would surely add more to the ‘kitty’……


    Surely when an offer comes in, this will have to happen?

  21. I think the main problem (for me, anyway) is that there won’t be a transfer of cash from Sports Direct to NUFC for a few hundred million as a result of this, so it seems like Ashley’s merely using us to promote his brand globally.

    The idea that Sports Direct is merely a placeholder, showcasing us to other potential advertisers is wearing a bit thin.

    Ideally I’d prefer it to remain as St James’ Park and indeed it will as far as I’m concerned, but I do understand how today’s football world is one of commercialism and many other clubs have had to put up with stadium name changes. However, these other clubs are getting something in return, which makes a lot more palatable.

  22. I suppose Pardew will now say we will make it FORTRESS SPORTS DIRECT ARENA – quite a ring to it don’t you think?
    nah !

  23. So some people who we know to be liars tell us this will bring money into the club
    didnt selling Andy Carroll bring some money into the club ?
    anyone any idea where that went ?
    logically we can assume that this extra income will go the same way

  24. poorly judged, ill-timed BS from the fat man and his merry men as always

    you want motivation to bring in sponsor money to the club? how about the fact we are 3rd in the league and unbeaten?

    by slapping yet another SD badge on the ground and pissing off fans is surely the most commercially un-attractive thing they could have possibly done….

  25. i’m new on the blog but i just want to say even though the fat blob MA has as much tact as a drunken donkey he defo saved this club from the bull frog FFS and no one can stop him renaming the stadium but as long as we go back to the glory days i dont care what they call the stadium better t sports direct arena on champs league nites than st james in mediocrity ps i’ll be making a pilgrimage to see the lads next year and as far as i’m concerned i’ll be going to st james park TOON 4 EVER!!!

  26. Spotlight Kid says:

    “In this free market world it’s the duty of every family to maximise income streams. So far I have the dog rented out to an animal experiment lab for £10 a week, the cat’s pelt is being sized up for a hat, there’s an organised crime syndicate stashing swag in the garage and I’ve been offered £25 a night commission on the wife from an exotic escort agency doing toga parties. She in turn obtained a quote for a fiver for me for horsemeat – including my shoes – and the company will collect….

    Sounds sensible to me!

    Meanwhile the kids have left home for some reason?”

    Worthy of a mention Spotlight, very droll.

    Meanwhile the “Lies of Llambias” is shortly out in hardback but costs a staggering £10m per copy and needs to be delivered by forklift !

  27. I agree with monkeysan,this is poorly timed,were having the best start 2 a season in over 13 years and MA decides lets change the name of our stadium 2 somthing pathetic like sports direct arena!!!!! Come on!!! it defo doesnt have the same ring to it as the mighty st james park!! And yes he says its going 2 bring our club more money thro sponsership deals and blah de blah de blah but wheres that money goin to go,the club??? or MA’s back pocket??? proberly the latter!!!!!! This is a joke of an idea so ill be still calling it st kames park,i will NEVER call it sports direct arena!!!!!

  28. Gdee says:

    November 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    “Its a great move”

    A great move for whom Gdee? That is the question. This “showcase” deception is certainly a great move Mike Ashley in terms of promoting his Sports Direct brand to a worldwide audience at minimal cost, but what is Newcastle United getting out of it exactly?

  29. Thieves broke into the SportsDirect Areana trophy room last night and stole the entire contents.

    Police are looking for a 50 foot black and white stripy carpet.

  30. Some light reading here,

    “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.”

    So next season arrives with no mega money sponsor on the horizon and then Fatman steps in and tells us he’s “doing us a favour taking the naming rights off our hands for a fiver” :)

  31. Andy Mac says:

    November 10, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    “Some light reading here,”

    That piece is more or less exactly what I’ve been thinking Andy.

    However, besides the fact that renaming such a well loved stadium with such a long tradition is, as the article suggests, about the biggest “no-no” in sponsorship, on top of this, the “showcase” idea is also one of the worst things that could possibly be done too. Then, as if that wasn’t enough already, to taint it with a such tacky awful brand as “Sports Direct” makes it even worse still!

    To put it another way, as a potential sponsor, would you like Sports Direct’s “sloppy seconds”? Do you think that it would enhance your brand? Of course it wouldn’t, it would denigrate it hugely.

    Once again as the article suggests, Ashley and Llambias have broken virtually every rule in the sponsorship book, so many that it’s beyond mere incompetence. In my opinion, with Ashley having so many advisors and such within the industry, it can only be this bad for one reason, that it’s actually deliberate.

    Do you remember that Mel Brooks film “The Producers”, where they deliberately try to produce the worst musical ever, a one about Nazi Germany with songs such as “Springtime for Hitler” because they figured that a bad musical which failed would actually bring them more money than a good one? Well that is what this terribly botched scheme reminds me of. Like the musical in that film, this is all just a complete scam which will only benefit Sports Direct at the expense of the club.

    The timing is absolutely perfect, to slip it past the more gullible sections of the fanbase whilst they are drunk on the teams successful start to the season. They were planning it anyway but this has been a godsend to them, and of course, anyone who criticises the plan is open to the accusation of putting that success in jeopardy. I really hate that fat bastard huckster now!

  32. Springtime for Hitler spawned the Hitler rap as I recall ?

    Now that was a music video, hubba hubba hubba. Crap song but nice erm accompaniment :)


    PS Agreed WT its all about the spin they put out which manages to cloud the facts and confuse a lot of the fans.

    To go along with all the others “He’s too old to play for us so we’re not giving him 4 year deal”, “Couldnt refuse an offer of £35m”, “Wanted more experience” etc etc we now have the “this could bring in as much as £10m” which leads half the population into thinking we’ve got the cheque and we’re off to buy a player :)

  33. “But Mr Llambias said: “Money’s tight, football’s expensive and if we can make it cheaper to come, then that’s our job done”

    Feck me Numpty not only are you going to buy a player for us from the proceeds of the Stadium sponsorship money you’re also going to slash the price of seats, pies and beers to !!!!!!

    If I ever meet this two faced twatt somebody better be holding onto my baseball bat !!!

  34. Worky Ticket says “This “showcase” deception is certainly a great move Mike Ashley in terms of promoting his Sports Direct brand to a worldwide audience at minimal cost, but what is Newcastle United getting out of it exactly?”

    Worky, what NUFC is getting out of it – from what I understand albeit from a distance – is a club which has a debt free loan, which has been rescued from possible bankruptcy, which is now getting its operating costs in order, has a developing youth side, a very capable first team squad, and all in all, a very organized club with a bright future. Tell me I’m wrong and I’ll gladly listen to you.

  35. Paul in Hollywood says:

    November 12, 2011 at 12:47 am

    Paul, what’s a “debt free loan” (apart from an oxymoron)?

    The club was around £150 million in debt according to the last set of accounts, which is more than it was when Ashley took control of the club in 2007. Though the loan is interest free, nearly all of it (over £110 million) is repayable “on demand” to Mike Ashley and may be called in at any time he chooses. Hence, the club is not “debt free” and he can pull the plug on it any time he wants to, and, as has been proven several times in the past, he cannot be trusted in the slightest.

    In the world of Mike Ashley, Newcastle United, though important, is totally subservient to Sports Direct. It is there to serve it’s interests, even when it is to the detriment of the club, as it is with this latest naming rights charade.

  36. Worky, thanks for correcting my “debt free loan”! You are correct… “interest free loan” was what I meant. (Financial thinking is not my specialty!) Agreed about your second comment but I do not think that NUFC is the servant of Sports Direct; I think both are important to Mike Ashley, or at least I think success is very important to Mike Ashley, and he wants to see both succeed.