St James' Park given new name to raise cash

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The Independent Football

In a move that is likely to mean yet more ridicule for the club, Newcastle United yesterday announced their intention to rename their famous home the sportsdirect.com@St James' Park Stadium for the immediate future. The news comes after an announcement from the owner, Mike Ashley, that the ground's sponsorship rights were up for offer.

The club's managing director, Derek Llambias, told BBC Newcastle yesterday: "We will showcase Sports Direct until the end of the season. I'm sure we're going to get a sponsor in for next season."

Ashley upset Newcastle fans last month when he announced the club's plans to rename the stadium for commercial purposes, having taken it off the market. Llambias conceded the announcement could have been better dealt with, but is confident the plans are in the best interests of the club. "We could have worded it better, and that's why we came out to explain what we're trying to achieve," he said. "With the renaming it was always going to be whatever brand it was, at St James' Park. For the remainder of this season, we already have sportsdirect.com on the Gallowgate so we'd like to take that branding through the rest of the stadium."

Llambias was also keen to stress that the existing St James' Park name was to stay a feature of the site, and believes supporters will see a tangible impact if the scheme is a success. "If it brings in a good chunk of money to the club, that goes straight to the team, it's a revenue we should look at."

Newcastle have not disclosed how much they would charge for the right to rename their home of 117 years. Llambias also explained Ashley's decision to take the club off the market. "Mike has decided, 'That's it, I'm staying, I want to put some more money into it and let's get it promoted.' That's his focus."

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