Newcastle United renamed St. James’ Park stadium the Sports Direct Arena as part of the English soccer club’s plans to sell naming rights to its home of 119 years to boost revenue.
The ground will be named after Newcastle owner Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International Plc retailer until a sponsor to purchase the naming rights is found, the club said. A 2009 proposal for companies to link their brand to St. James’ Park was dropped because it “did not prove commercially attractive,” Newcastle added.
“Naming the stadium the Sports Direct Arena helps up to showcase the opportunity to interested parties,” Newcastle Managing Director Derek Llambias said in the statement on the team’s website. “We are now actively seeking a long-term sponsor wishing to acquire full naming rights for the stadium.”
Newcastle, which is third in the Premier League this season and one of only two unbeaten clubs, would join Arsenal and Manchester City in selling the naming rights to their stadium if a backer is found. Arsenal’s home is the Emirates Stadium, while Premier League leader City plays at the Etihad Stadium.
Lambias said Newcastle’s jersey deal with Northern Rock Plc expires at the end of this season, presenting potential sponsors with the chance to acquire both the stadium naming rights and shirt sponsorship.
“The board have a responsibility to maximize all revenue streams for the benefit of the club,” Lambias added. “Stadium rebranding offers a lucrative way for clubs to secure significant additional income.”