Will Liverpool Play At Carlsberg Stadium?

When did it come to this?

As I watch Bolton’s Reebok Hunt slide tackle Liverpool’s Xabi Carlsberg at Carlsberg Lite Stadium in Liverpool on an overcast Saturday in April, I am filled with an unbearable nostalgia for the past.

As Fly Emirates Bennett holds the red card aloft in Hunt’s face who begins his long walk of shame, (brought to you by Reebok), I can’t help but long for the days before players, refs and stadia started adopting the names of massive corporate sponsors.

Liverpool supporters were griping in 2009 when Carlsberg first sealed the deal to change the name of Anfield, Liverpool FC’s historic venue, to Carlsberg Stadium, even changing the name of Anfield Road to Carslberg Road. But the precident had already been set in the Premier League with Bolton’s Reebok Stadium, Wigan’s JJB Stadium and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium replacing the traditional venues of Burnden Ground, Springfield Park and Highbury.

The strangest turn in the history of sport sponsorship was when players began taking the names of the sponsors. This began with Newcastle’s Obafemi Northern Rock in early 2010. Many players quickly followed suit. Samsung Lampard, Gareth Acorns, OKI Crouch, Nationwide Rooney and Shaun Wright-Thomas Cook all became household names of English Football.

Liverpool were hesitant to go along with this trend, since the stadium name change was still a point of bitter contention amongst supporters. But when intense pressure from Carlsberg combined with Liverpool’s inability to compete with the increased spending of the other clubs, the Merseyside giants relented.

Xabi Carlsberg, Steven Carlsberg, Pepe Carslberg and Carlsberg Lite Leiva were the first to legally change their names for increased corporate funding.

When the players filed out with ‘Carlsberg’ written across the backs of their shirts in place of Alonso, Gerrard, Reina and Lucas, supporters wondered if they were watching football or a Ramones cover band. But with the extra funding, Liverpool were soon able to secure the transfers of Bastien Carlsberg, Daniel Alves da Carlsberg and Arjen Carlsberg. These were all pivotal players in the campaign that saw Liverpool win their 19th Premier League Title in 2011, the year before the trophy became simply known as The Barclay.

As victory came, the groans of supporters subsided.

And while manager Rafael Adidas led Liverpool to win three more titles in a row, Manchester United, Liverpool’s traditional rivals, plummeted into financial trouble due to their increased involvement with the doomed investment firm, AIG. United had to sell off many top players like Nationwide Rooney and Cristiano International Group, Inc. just to stay afloat. The club narrowly avoided relegation to The Diet Coke Championship last season.

But United’s fortunes may be turning as they complete a renewed deal with an old sponsor. Now, Sir Alex Vodafone feels confident his side will be able to climb back to the top of the League next season after a fruitful transfer window.

Back at the brand new Carlsberg Lite Stadium in Liverpool, I watch Fernando Carlsberg hit a hat-trick against a ten-man Bolton side. The young kids around me, who probably couldn’t tell you El Niño’s birth name, start to sing:

His armband said he was a Red! (Carlsberg! Carlsberg!)

‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,’ it said! (Carlsberg! Carlsberg!)

The older supporter sitting between them and me shakes his head and rolls his eyes. He had corrected the lads in the first half when they began to sing: Around the Fields of Carlsberg Road… But now you can see he just doesn’t have the energy. Neither do I, as I long for the days of Anfield, Highbury and St James Park. The days when tradition and history won out over sponsorship and the corporate agenda.

Do any of us have the energy to fight the changing times? I decide not to think about it as I ponder what to drink when I visit the pub after the match.

17 thoughts on “Will Liverpool Play At Carlsberg Stadium?”

  1. No Way, Never, Anfield is football Legend, never should that be undermined or sold, are Man Utd doing it, no ..so why is Liverpool??we dont need that kind of money

  2. Amazing article, I definitely giggled aloud in class and got A LOT of stares.
    Being a teenager myself, I would like it to be known that I am against this branding

  3. Get over it – stadiums all over the place (especially in the US) are getting renamed by corporate sponsorship, with very few exceptions (Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, etc). It’s just the way it is. That $30 mill/year they get for the naming rights will be used to buy your team’s next star striker and midfielder.

  4. Wrigley Field is named after the then owner of the Cubs, who also owned the Wrigley Company. There are still a few stadia in America that aren’t corporate: Yankee Stadium, Cowboys Stadium, Fenway Park, Turner Field, Wrigley, but the rest seem to change every year. It’s very frustrating as a fan to hear the name of a stadium and not know where it is or who plays there.

  5. Corporate names on stadiums used to be discussed in America a decade or so ago in terms of losing tradition..until realized some iconic old buildings such as Wrigley Field have had corporate names since before ww1. Personally I have no problem ESPECIALLY when done say like the city of Pittsburgh with all three sports stadiums/arenas to be named after LOCAL businesses. That way it seems to celebrate the area while still bringing in much needed money for the team. Also calling NEW stadiums with corporate names seems less dodgy than changing say…old Anfield or Old Trafford into BP Park. I actually rather call the New Wembley Haribo Field instead of New Wembley since you cant summon the aura of the old Wembley just by calling it that, even though its in the same spot.

    Much more egregious to me than stadium naming was the sponsor logos that football clubs have been putting on their kits in a much larger and centered fashion than even the teams crest or shield. Over here in America if the Yankees or Steelers or Maple Leafs came out with a big McDonalds M on the middle of their jersey instead of their team logo there would be riots in the stands. You have all seemed to have gotten over that bit of “tradition”…stadium names should be not a problem for you then.

    Go TOON….get all three points from those cottagers!

  6. In the US, the arenas are more and more corporate. But none of the major sports, besides NASCAR (it’s the 4th largest sport in terms of revenue in the US) has any corporate or sponsorship logos on the uniforms. The only logo you will find on an NFL jersey is the RBK logo, as they are the current provider of official NFL gear.

  7. The reason American teams don’t have sponsorship on their team shirts is because they allow adverts during the game. In fact, in American Football & Basketball they actually stop the game for commercials. Something that’s especially annoying when you go to a live match. As much as I am annoyed by the growing sponsor creep: Secondary sponsors on shirts and shorts, on refferees, on stadia and cups, its a slightly better option than compromising the integrity of the actual game.

  8. Ian,

    I hadn’t heard of Jennifer Government. Looks interesting. I was just looking for a different way to editorialize the rumors of a potential Carlsberg Stadium. And taking the concept of sponsor names to this extreme seemed effective enough (and, well, fun).

  9. Lennon :

    “Lucas Leiva would be the only one to get Carlsberg Light.”

    Haha brilliant!


    $30 million a year for naming rights? Arsenal’s deal with Emirates is only worth £100m over 15 years.


    Great points.

  10. First off — Wrigley is NOT a corporate name the same way so many names are. It’s historically corporate but it does not actively promote the chewing gum company.

    Secondly: someone said: “Get over it – stadiums all over the place (especially in the US) are getting renamed by corporate sponsorship, with very few exceptions (Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, etc). It’s just the way it is.”

    THAT DOESN’T MEAN WE HAVE TO LIKE AND ACCEPT IT. Many of us are SICKENED by this practice. And it’s not just stadiums and arenas, it’s also music amphitheaters. Some places are now on their 3rd and yeah, even their 4th name in only a decade. This is asinine. It’s a symbol of America that SUCKS and makes me ashamed to be from this great nation. The league owners and stadium owners, etc should NEVER have allowed this to happen. So your team doesn’t have $100 million for better players. If no other teams have corporate naming then neither do they. What in damn hell happened to naming these great venues after a person or a place or a team and allowing that to stand as a memorial or in honor of the namesake? I don’t want to see a game in Dunn Tire Field or in the Dunkin Donuts Center or Network Associates Coliseum. I also want to know that the name won’t be different next year and I want to be able to keep them straight. There was a time when I knew where each American football, baseball, hockey, and basketball team in America played. Now it’s hard to keep track of ’em all. It’s pathetically ridiculous.

    And hey, listen, while Anfield, a very historic name might be lost, Carlsberg Field is not as bad something like SBC Park (not to be confused with SBC Field or SOOOOOOOOO many more I could name.)

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