Football FanCast guest columnist Joe Ripley writes an Open letter to Newcastle United fans.
Dear Newcastle fans,
To say that life under Mike Ashley’s stewardship at Newcastle United has been rocky is tantamount to saying that the Arctic Circle is a bit nippy and why his mooted idea about selling the naming rights to St James Park has gone down like a lead balloon among supporters, is it more of case of need than to actually spite you?
As an Arsenal fan I think I am in a good position to talk about the merits of it. Like you are feeling now, I felt horrified at not only the prospect of leaving our beloved home, but moving to a brand new stadium. It was a wrench I can tell you and you can bet your bottom dollar that the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham fans are totally against the prospect of leaving their own spiritual homes in the coming seasons as they move into their new ‘branded’ stadiums, which could be named anything, depending on who is the highest bidder.
Unfortunately it is the nature of the beast and had Arsenal not sold the naming rights, then the new stadium wouldn’t have been built and we certainly wouldn’t be the richest club in England in terms of gate receipts that come in on any given match day. It was horrible to lose the name Highbury, but it wasn’t as bad as actually having to move stadium and at least you won’t be suffering that agony, should any sponsor coming in. The bottom line is no matter which sponsor comes in to Newcastle, to supporters it will always remain St James Park. You haven’t moved location, nothing has changed and the new name will not transform the club’s identity in anyway whatsoever.
Unfortunately as much as we like to remember how football once was, if Newcastle sells out their name then they are only following what other clubs are being forced to do. It is easy money and why us, Liverpool and Tottenham are having to do so in order to get a hefty down payment in order to finance their grounds, perhaps at Newcastle it is more of a case of having to in order to keep afloat and on some sort of financial standing. It is well documented that the fiscal situation at your football club isn’t a healthy one and should you not make an instant return to the Premier League then it could get even worse and may leave the club in a not so dissimilar situation to the one that Leeds United have found themselves in during the past few years. Surely the club’s future and being in a stronger financial position holds a far greater significance than any sponsor that has designs on moving in. I mean would you rather retain the name St James Park if it means you have to sell your best players in order to just keep the club afloat?
Obviously at the moment it is all speculation and perhaps somebody will come in and give you guys the leadership you deserve, prior to any talks with future sponsors, however should no one be forthcoming then perhaps it is an idea that you should perhaps embrace for the long term future and livelihood of your club. I hated leaving Highbury and having to move to the Emirates, but at least you’ll have the good fortune of remaining at the same stadium.