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Archive for tag: St James’s Park renaming rights.

What has Newcastle United ever done for Mike Ashley (and Sports Direct)?

June 29th, 2012 | 62 Comments |

Sports Direct sign, St James' Park.
Cheap and nasty.
There has been something of a rehabiltation of the reputation of Mike Ashley at Newcastle United recently.

This, of course, has been due largely to the club’s generally upward trajectory in terms of it’s League position in recent seasons under Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew, as well as some successes in the transfer market since Ashley and Llambias cast their their three casino aquaintances adrift and let Chris Hughton bring in a proper chief scout, a move which has been highly beneficial for the club so far.

Less obviously, perhaps, there has also been a relentless PR campaign run through the media on all levels. Like the current coalition government, much has been said to demonise the previous administration, presenting Ashley as some kind of messiah type figure who made tough choices to save the club from certain liquidation as a great benevolent gesture to the people of Tyneside. But, according to the narrative, this has been a thankless task, with Geordie ingrates not showing the suitable appreciation of his selfless largesse. Admittedly, this isn’t the most difficult thing to do when the targets are the likes of Freddy Shepherd and Douglas Hall. According to a peculiar logic, much has also been made of what Ashley’s alleged financial “backing” of the club in terms of making a £140 million loan to himself, which is repayable on demand by the club, to save himself from paying high interest rates on his own Newcastle United debts. The term “clearing” the club’s debts has been used so often that many fans are still oblivious to the fact that the club is now actually far more in debt than it was when Ashley assumed control of the club in 2007. (more…)


Derek Llambias: PR offensive? Or offensive PR?

March 12th, 2012 | 7 Comments |

Derek Llambias.
Derek Llambias: The PR offensive continues.
As Mike Ashley’s current PR offensive continues apace, Newcastle United’s managing director, Derek Llambias, claimed that the club have had some “nibbles” from “tyre kickers” expressing interest in the club’s stadium naming rights offer.

In the latest chapter of the offensive, planned on the back of an announcement of reduced losses in the club’s annual accounts after the sale of Andy Carroll, he claimed to “sympathise” with fans concerned over the stadium’s latest name change. I’m flattered to say that he also took a swipe at my own hypothesis as outlined in several previous stories on this blog. My hypothesis being that the sponsorship offer, including the highly questionable “showcase” idea, has broken so many rules of the golden rules of sponsorship, and is so overpriced in comparison to similar sponsorship deals (with one rather dubious exception in the North West), that it seems to be a ruse, something which has been planned to fail from the start, as it has for well over two years so far to Sports Direct’s benefit. (more…)



Who on earth would buy the naming rights for St James’s Park?

October 29th, 2009 | 82 Comments |

Anusol Arena? Pizza Hut Park?
Anusol Arena? Pizza Hut Park?
Of course, Mike Ashley’s recent announcement that Newcastle United will be seeking bidders for ‘naming right’s’ to the stadium formerly known as St James’s Park is somewhat ‘controversial’ to say the least. Indeed, many very strong views have been expressed already, including in this ‘blog. Petitions have been prepared, there have been rumblings of more demos and the mood is even more fractious than usual.

There is also another question that comes to mind, to the mind of this writer anyway; who on earth would want to step into what could be one of the most controversial deals in the history of corporate sponsorship? Until now, the naming rights for the stadiums of larger clubs have been restricted to new builds such as the ‘Reebok’ in Bolton, the ‘Emirates’ in North London, the ‘JJB’ / ‘DW’ in Wigan and several others. So far, so uncontroversial. However, large established names with large historic grounds such as Manchester United with Old Trafford, Liverpool with Anfield etc have so far resisted the temptation to sell naming rights despite their owners being under great financial pressure with debt and the spiralling inflation prevalent at the top of the football world. Of course, a biggest part of this is that their names have attained an iconic status within football over a very long period like, dare I say it, the big elephant on the hill that is St James’s Park itself. Certainly, it would be seen as sacriligeous and far too controversial in many quarters, and would probably be more trouble than it is worth. (more…)