As discussed here at EPL Talk last week, Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has decided to rechristen St. James’ Park, the club’s venerable home since 1892, as Sports Direct Arena. Predictably, the move has gone over as well as an episode of “Geordie Shore.” Newcastle supporters are among the most loyal in football, supporting the club through thick and through relegation and dodgy light yellow change shirts. The toon army will not stand for this new name. After all, while the club’s finances will certainly be helped once an outside company ponies up the pounds for naming rights (Ashley owns Sports Direct, which will only temporarily sponsor the ground), no one’s paying a penny to the people and there’s no law forcing anyone to call the ground anything but its proper name.
Like Monty Python’s Mr. Creosote ordering the lot, clubs will never turn down the chance to gorge on new revenue streams. So as the stadium naming rights trend inevitably spreads and if corporate sponsors change every few years like with shirts, then it will be far easier and far more clear for supporters and the media to use a ground’s historical name rather than having to refer to the FTSE 100 table. In America, websites like uniwatch and nomas have led the fight to keep proper stadium names alive and it’s a notion worth supporting.
So, if you support preserving English football heritage, enjoy the above wallpaper image (click for a larger view) and keep calling it St. James’, always.