Newcastle changes stadium name
Newcastle have announced St James' Park is to be renamed the Sports Direct Arena as part of a plan to sell the naming rights to their famous stadium.
The Magpies hope to follow fellow Barclays 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 today 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.''