Geordie outrage at stadium name change

It’s not entirely accurate to claim that there’s only one St James’ Park. Exeter City’s stadium shares the name. Nevertheless, for Newcastle United fans, the club ground is the spiritual home of the Geordie nation. You don’t change the name of a shrine do you?

Somebody needs to tell Mike Ashley, the owner of Newcastle United, who announced that the ground will now be known as the Sports Direct Stadium. This is a temporary move, as Ashley seeks out a company willing to purchase the naming rights.

Ashley obviously believed that, with the club riding high in the Premier League, he had accrued sufficient goodwill to get away with the name-change. This might prove to be the latest mistaken move in Ashley’s turbulent time in charge at St James’... sorry, the Sports Direct stadium.

The club’s aim is to attract a joint stadium and shirt sponsorship deal that would be worth around £10 million a season, not a massive sum in football terms, but enough to make a noticeable dent in the wages bill.

Fans, enjoying the heady heights of 3rd place in the table, have greeted the news with dismay. Mark Jensen, a club fanzine editor, told The Guardian he was very disappointed with Ashley’s decision. "It just seems very opportunist and it certainly won't help the mood. Apart from having more exposure for Sports Direct, and I can see the benefits for Mike Ashley to do that, I don't see how there are any benefits whatsoever for anybody connected with Newcastle United."

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