Newcastle rename St James’ Park

The Magpies hope to follow fellow Premier League clubs Arsenal and

Manchester City by licensing the naming rights to the ground which

has been their home since 1886. St James’ Park, which has a

capacity of over 52,000, could join the Emirates Stadium and the

Etihad Stadium in adopting the name of an external backer if the

plans announced on Thursday come to fruition. Until the club can

find a sponsor to buy the naming rights, the ground will be named

after owner Mike Ashley’s sports retail company. Newcastle

originally planned to allow sponsors to link their brand to St

James’ Park but that idea, put forward in 2009, is now replaced by

the offer to purchase full naming rights. Newcastle managing

director Derek Llambias said: ”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.” Llambias

added that a shirt sponsorship deal might also be available to any

company interested in taking on the naming rights of the stadium.

“Naming the stadium the Sports Direct Arena helps up to showcase

the opportunity to interested parties,” he said. “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.”