Newcastle United’s stadium St James’ Park might not be called ‘St James’ Park’ in the near future.
That is because the club’s new owners are considering selling the naming rights to a lucrative sponsor. However, any decision will not be made until fans have been consulted on the issue.
That is according to club CEO Darren Eales, who joined Newcastle this summer from Atlanta United.
Eales has been doing the rounds in the media, and spoke to the Daily Mail about possibly changing the name of St James’ Park.
“As we think about anything to do with the stadium, we’ll talk to the supporters because, ultimately, it would be crazy to try and do something if all the supporters are against it,” he said.
“Bad business. It doesn’t matter what revenue you’re getting from that, it just doesn’t work.”
Eales also stated that the club would consider sponsors from Saudi Arabia, meaning they could benefit from PIF’s 80% stake in the Magpies.
But whether it’s a Saudi company or someone else, changing St James’ Park will cause huge debate among Toon fans.
New sponsors on the horizon at Newcastle
The logic behind selling the naming rights at St James’ Park is simple. It would allow the club to increase revenue, which will have an impact on money that can be invested.
At the minute, Newcastle’s revenue stream is poor. The club don’t have too many sponsors, and the ones they’ve got are not particularly lucrative.
Since the change of ownership, the only major arrival has been Noon. They are Newcastle’s sleeve sponsor, earning the club a reported £7.5million-a-year.
At the moment, FUN88 still remains on the shirt. But their £6.5million-a-year agreement will be coming to a premature end next summer. That will allow Newcastle to find a more lucrative shirt sponsor.
But selling the stadium rights would open up more opportunities to make money. It is not uncommon in the Premier League. Manchester City play at the Eithad, Arsenal’s home is the Emirates, and Brighton’s ground is called the Amex.
Meanwhile, Tottenham are reportedly in talks with Google to sponsor their new stadium. That sounds incredibly lucrative for them.
So should Newcastle follow the same path? Well, it could be up to the fans. And that creates a bit of a dilemma for the Toon Army.
Potential St James’ Park name change creates a conundrum for Toon fans
St James’ Park is dripping with history. It’s iconic. It sits in the middle of the city. And it has always been known as St James’ Park.
While the new owners have ruled out moving grounds, they haven’t ruled out a name change. And I, like many other fans I assume, am unsure where I stand on the matter.
We have seen St James’ Park change before. Mike Ashley did it with Sports Direct. That did not go down well at all, but was very much a sign of the times. Ashley was already the villain at that point, and it seemed like a slap in the face of the club’s history.
But this is different. It would be to boost the club’s future. It would only serve to benefit Newcastle.
And even if a change did occur, are fans really going to start calling it the ‘*insert company name* Stadium’? No, it will always be known as St James’ Park. In that respect, what difference would it make to supporters?
However, it isn’t as simple as that. It will be interesting to see how the club intend on consulting fans for their opinion. Then we will need to decide where we stand.
At the moment, I really don’t know.