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.