Llambias: Toon rights worth £10m

BY foxsports • November 10, 2011

The controversial decision to rebrand the stadium the Sports Direct Arena as a pre-cursor to a full-blown ground sponsorship deal has been attacked by fans. Supporters have used it to once again criticise owner Mike Ashley's running of the club but managing director Llambias said they could not afford to pass up an opportunity which he claims could be worth £10million a year. "I totally respect the tradition and history of the club," he told BBC Radio Newcastle. "That is always going to be there. We are not disrespecting our fans at all. "But we need to move with the times and this is progression. We just need to make sure we give ourselves the opportunity. "Chelsea has come out to basically say they are going to rename their present stadium. "Now, they have a long history as well but they have an owner who actually has more money than God. "We can't compare ourselves to (Roman) Abramovich. We have not got that sort of money, so if we want to compete with the big boys, we have to bring more money in. "We do need to go that one step further to compete. "I would hope it would generate between £8million and 10million a year. That would give us another player. "The club needs to be self-sufficient and this will help us be self-sufficient. "We have exhausted all our other revenue streams. Retail is not good - that produces next to nothing, quite honestly - so we need to bring in more. "We lose Northern Rock as a sponsor this year, so it gives me a very small window to get a new shirt sponsor and hopefully a stadium sponsor at the same time." The news comes with the Magpies third in the Barclays Premier League after an 11-match unbeaten start to the season. On the back of those performances Newcastle have, in recent weeks, just sold a further 4,000 season tickets in a cut-price offer. Unsurprisingly, fans are unhappy with the timing of the announcement with Mark Jensen, editor of fanzine The Mag, saying Ashley and Llambias have made another public relations gaffe. "What the club has done just reinforces what everyone has thought about them," he said. "No matter what strides the likes of (manager) Alan Pardew and the players might take on the pitch there is always something from above that undermines everything. "It's no coincidence that they have performed a typical politician's trick and waited until things are going well to slip in something like this on the back of a cut-price season ticket deal which has filled the empty seats. It's quite cynical. "It showed when Kevin Keegan was here the first time as a manager that when you start a bandwagon rolling at Newcastle like he did, it's a pretty powerful force. "They should have been spending these two weeks really reinforcing the feelgood factor. "As it stands, this has brought no extra money into the club but they have seriously annoyed a large proportion of their fan base." Simon Chadwick, professor of sport business strategy at Coventry University's Business School, believes Newcastle will not be the last top-flight club to explore selling stadium naming rights. "The ongoing cost pressure in wages and transfer fees, in addition to external financial pressures, mean it is inevitable we see more and more clubs start to do this type of thing," he told Press Association Sport. "It is not just clubs that are willing to sell but brands are willing to associate to. "Given that you have that market I think it is inevitable that over the next five or 10 years more clubs follow this route."

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