By Steve
Thursday 10 Nov 2011 11:24:00
Browse all Wraiths Rant articles

I have read with great interest the statement from the club about the rebranding of the stadium from St James Park to Sports Direct Arena.  Whilst it would be easy for me to condemn the change I feel one must stand back and take a balanced view of what is proposed. 

What we as fans have to realise is that Mike Ashley is the legal owner of the club and in theory can do anything he wants with that business.  However, I would like to suggest that football clubs in this country are somewhat different in cultural terms to normal businesses.  In my time at the club I realised that even though I was the legal owner I was merely the custodian of the club on behalf of the fans.  Mike Ashley has that responsibility now.  Owners come and go but the fans remain for the life of the club.

There are valid reasons for changing the name if it will bring in large sums of money to help with the finances of the business and more so if new players are bought with that money.

However, history and tradition play an important part in our lives and have helped develop this nation and its people and these traits are the cultural basis of most of our football clubs.  It is easy to break with tradition when a club builds a new stadium on another site e.g. Arsenal.  Most fans would see this as the start of a new era and would accept a name change.  However that is not the case at St James’ Park with its 119 years of tradition.

None of us can, or should we, stand in the way of change if we feel it is in the best interests of our club.  In this instance however I believe you cannot airbrush away the name St James’ Park and call it Sports Direct Arena.  The existing Arena in Newcastle lies on the banks of the Tyne.  This name change will only last until the club finds a major sponsor and we will have another new name.  This will only last the length of that sponsorship.  After that there could be another sponsor and we could have another name change and so on over the years.  I noticed that York City now has the honour of being called ‘The KitKat Stadium’.  Can we look forward in the future to possibly being called ‘The Kitty Kat Stadium’?

To all of us fans, especially the older ones who have supported the club for the last 30 – 50 years the ground will always be St James’ Park.  Whatever new name is painted on the stadium it will never be accepted by the majority of the fans.  However, we cannot stand in the way of change and I would like to suggest that a compromise is reached between the fans and the club especially when on the park the team is doing so well.  The Board needs to respect the club’s history and tradition of which every fan is very proud. 

I do not think any of us are against a new sponsor but I would suggest that they need to take into account the feeling of the fans.  As I have said you cannot just airbrush away 119 years of history and tradition.

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