Football: Stoke play the name game

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The Independent Online
Stoke City, managed on a shoestring by Lou Macari but nicely poised to challenge for a place in the Premiership, will today make an announcement that will end a long-running guessing game among supporters of the club.

To coincide with the unveiling of a major club sponsorship deal, Stoke are to officially name the 28,000-seat stadium to which they are to move this summer, bringing to an end a 119-year residence at the Victoria Ground.

Among suggestions already rejected are the New Victoria Ground, which does rather lack imagination, and Trentham Lakes, which sounds more like a development of executive homes than a football ground. Happily, neither will it be called Sideway stadium, after its location by the A500, which will be a blow to headline writers, even though the local pronunciation is "Sidaway."

The favourite speculation is that the pounds 16m project will glory under the title of the Sir Stanley Matthews Community Stadium, which is a bit of a mouthful on its own, before the inclusion of the new sponsors' name, which is thought likely to be a requirement of their investment.

While romantics will insist that the name of the club's most famous ambassador be included somewhere, more cynical supporters predict that a recognition of Mike Sheron will, in time, seem more appropriate.

Despite being pounds 3m in debt, Stoke are committed to funding a large part of the project themselves. Selling the pounds 2m-rated Sheron, who increased his goal tally for the season to 21 with a brace at Charlton, is one of few visible options for raising cash.