The ‘debate’ over the renaming of St.James’ Park has been reignited as regional newspaper the ‘Evening Chronicle’ gained access to correspondence between Derek Llambias and Newcastle City Council under the Freedom of Information Act.

‘Council leader Nick Forbes and opposition leader David Faulkner wrote to the BBC, ITV and other broadcasters urging them not to use the new name.

And that prompted Derek Llambias, the club’s managing director, to write to Coun Forbes hinting at legal action.

In his letter, Mr Llambias accused Coun Forbes of a “cheap publicity stunt” and suggested court proceedings would follow if the club lost any money because of the council’s action.

In his letter of January 25, Mr Llambias, wrote: “We feel that this issue is being used by the council as a cheap publicity stunt during these hard economic times.”

Mr Llambias goes on to say the club was heartened that the BBC, ITV and other broadcasters have been calling the stadium the Sports Direct Arena.

He leaves open the possibility United could sue the council or individuals such as Coun Forbes if the club loses income.

Coun Forbes replied two days later: “All councillors are elected to reflect the views of their community, so given the groundswell of public opinion against a name change for the ground, it is perhaps not surprising that the council chose to debate this issue and pass a motion which reflected public sentiment at the time.

“That is democracy in action, and I am sure that similar debates occurred in Bolton, Stoke, Wigan and anywhere else that clubs have chosen to break with tradition and change the name of the ground.

“The outcry is lessened in the case of new build stadiums, as opposed to renaming a club’s traditional home.”

A council spokesman said: 

“The club, as a private business, have the right to sell sponsorship at the ground but they also have a responsibility towards the history and identity.

“There must be a common ground which allows the club to make money from sponsorship while maintaining the historic spirit of the name St James’ Park.

“There are no plans to rescind the motion that was agreed by council.

“To us, along with the vast majority of fans, the home of Newcastle United will always be called St James’ Park.”

Read the full article here

I think we have two discussions going on here.

Firstly, do the club have any intention of trying to get in a stadium sponsor or is the intention just to use Newcastle United to promote Mike Ashley’s business?

Secondly, is there a sum of money that it would be worth changing the official name of the ground for?

Clearly we haven’t got to stage two yet and I am very sceptical as to whether Ashley/Llambias are actively looking for stadium sponsors. Sitting in the Leazes End I feel close to what I imagine epileptic people feel before a fit ensues when at times I look down the ground and the combination of the advert on the Gallowgate roof, the fixed advertising and the digital displays are all showing S***** D*****, it is overwhelming and that plus the stadium renaming must equal a considerable sum of free advertising for the owner.

Is there a price worth selling the stadium name for? I would say no but for some fans out there, they will believe there is a price worth paying if it could potentially take the club forward.

Many branding experts claim that the ‘temporary’ SD renaming will have ruined almost any chance of getting somebody to pay decent money.

What I do know is that at the minute St.James’ Park has been given away for nothing and our heritage is worth so much more than that. As for the club threatening our elected politicians who are only representing the clear feelings of the general public….it is beneath contempt.

 

 

  • geoff777

    Move on … this is old news and has been done to death.

    • Trevor Davey

      Up yours ! we will, “do it to death”, as long as it pisses off the vast MAJORITY of our support. You, obviously like him, know the value of nothing !!!!!!

  • Charlietoon

    “Many branding experts claim that the ‘temporary’ SD renaming will have ruined almost any chance of getting somebody to pay decent money”
    Really? or is this just you justifying your opinion. No sponsor would takeover St James. It would cause uproar, protests and negative publicity for the company. Ashley has taken that hit to the groin. Now anyone who comes n an actually pays money and contributes to the team will be replacing the “Sports Direct’ moniker and will be welcomed with open arms with lots of fluffy publicity and fans waving flags. In my personal opinion it is a genius move.

  • Paul Soulsby

    Del Boy and Boycie can call it what they like, the fans will always call it St James’ Park regardless of what tat gans up.

  • Harryhh

    Excellent article and point. Sports Direct benefit
    hugely from this controversial arrangement.  Are they paying anything into
    the club or is this free advertising for them, I suspect the latter.  All
    the controversy, all the press and outcry has just helped sell more trainers
    for Sports Direct.  Lets see that money paid into the club.  The
    cheap advertising Sports Direct have erected inside and outside the
    ground are a real eye sore and make the place look like one giant discount
    sports shop.  Completely agree Sports Direct need to be brought to account
    if we are to ever pay back good old Mike his precious £200m loan. 

     

    Furthermore no one should even utter the words, it is
    St James’s Park and it always will be.  The name NUFC have suggested
    should be given no credence, it deserves no mention, not even in debate.  
    This is why they had to drop St James’s Park from their original proposal, they
    had to try and kill it to stop people even saying it.  If we don’t do
    that, if we don’t listen to them then it will fail and the reason they have
    done it in the first place will go away.  The City Council were bang on
    the money to write the press and complain on our behalf, we should all be doing
    it.  They would listen if we all did it, we the supporters are the end
    consumer here they would listen.  If Sky Sports got 3000 emails a day pleading with them, if we flooded their servers as their customers they would have no choice.

     

    My final point is Llambias, the way he behaves, his
    style of writing in the letter to Forbes, the way he conducts himself for
    example with odd press releases when he is backed into a corner.  It all errs on the side of agression, I imagine he is a nightmare to work under.  There is
    something about him I don’t trust, something odd about it all, like he is out
    of his depth / uncomfortable.  The renaming of the stadium, the poor
    relationship with the fans I blame him for this.  His predecessor Mort was
    far superior in every way, a class act.  I suppose the results are there on the
    pitch and its working well and I will give him some credit for that
    so he will get away with it, for now.  However, when you have someone like this at
    a club – a hot head – more comfortable falling out with people than making
    friends then its not a good sign.  Maybe he is just appalling at
    PR and I have the wrong impression entirely, but for the jury is most definitely
    out.

  • Andy

    Speaking as a lifelong Newcastle fan I think a bit of perspective is needed. First, it doesn’t matter what the “sponsorship” name is, it will ALWAYS be St James’ Park to the toon army, if we can get £10 million a year from some company for the naming rights I say take the money and run, we will always call it St James and that’s whats important. Second, yes Mike Ashley has made mistakes and I was one of the many calling for his resignation in 2009 but who knows where we might have ended up if he had decided not to buy us? Think of all the clubs that have entered administration in recent years because they spent beyond their means and refused to be run like businesses? Newcastle could very easily have become another Portsmouth or Leeds. Yes we suffered in the short term but we’ve emerged stronger than ever, but if we want to compete sustainably with the “big four” we need to consider all ideas for revenue, no matter how unpleasant they may seem.

  • Harryhh

    Andy, the issue we have here is there is no 10 million.  Sports Direct is a completely unrelated corporate entitiy.  They are more than likely benefitting greatly from the proported £10m a year naming rights.  That money is not going into the club.  Yes Mike Ashley and his money has turned the place around but that does not exonerate him from allowing Llambias to urinate on over 120 years of history at the club.  If you like perspective it was 1892 we first played there.  There have been multiple generations through the turnstiles, multiple owners, your grand parents weren’t even born when football was played there.  Its part of a long and respected history which has been in place for genrations, its part of the city’s heritage.

    If you condone this then where exactly do you draw the line?  Newcastle Sports Direct United?  The Tyne Bridge sponsored by Sports Direct, The Civic Big Mac Centre.

    Sure he’s turned us around but that doesn’t give carte blanche to insult the clubs long history by renaming the Stadium that was named in the 19th Century whats even more insulting is the fact that its very unlikely that one pound is being paid into the club.  I’m all for perspective Andy but you can’t just dismiss this as a necessary evil of the modern game.

    • Biggazza

      Newcastle sports direct united. Naah.

    • Tone Army

      The Angel Delight Of The North :p

      I wrote to the BBC pointing out that they were supposed to be brand free & under no obligation to call it by that name, as the council state the ground is still called SJP therefore no signeage to the ground needed altering etc, but they said they were obliged to call it Spots Arect Diarrheana (temp dyslexia) are they really feared of a legal battle with MD/SD??

  • East Stander

    I think we need some perspective here. I have had my doubts about Ashley and his sidekick in the past, seling Caroll, renaming the ground amd his poor communication with the vans.

    However, the fact that Ashley doesn’t care what anyone thinks may turn out to be a good thing. When we sold Caroll, he didn’t do what all the fans (including me) wanted him to do and go out and quickly sign a replacement. They had a plan, took their time to get exactly who they wanted and we ended up with Cisse the goal machine. I bet the Liverpool board and fans wished they had used the same approach with the Torres money.

    As for the renaming of St James Park, it will always be St James Park to me, my family amd my mates. What we have to accept is that Ashley has paid the money and can do what he wants. Since buying the club he has loaned the club another £140 million and charged no interest on this, unlike the Glazers, Hicks and Gillette and whole other host of other owners.

    I, like many others, have taken the option to sign up for a 10 year season ticket at fixed prices. Yes the membership fee has increased but it’s still really good value. Not many other big clubs have done the same.

    I am in no way an apologist for the actions of the Ashley regime in recents years but I am a realist. Reading lots of articles online, i now believe many fans are proud of the fact that we do our homework on players abilities, track record and character and that we don’t get fleeced in the transfer market on the likes of Luque, Boumsong, Maric and we aren’t being taken to the cleaners by the likes of Owen, Viduka and all the others who saw Newcastle as an easy place to pick up their (astromical) wages whether they could be bothered to play for the shirt or not.

    I am once again proud to be a Geordie as we are doing things right. Yes communication could be better I would rather be looking forward to foreign trips back to the like of Milan, Marseille and Barcelona than looking at a finacial meltdown as I fear would have happened had Ashley not bought the club when he did.

    HTL.