This week saw the removing of the famous St James’ Park sign proudly marking the façade of the Milburn Stand, and Newcastle United’s 120 year association with the renowned old name.
Step forward, the Sports Direct Arena. Rolling off the tongue like a sharp razor blade, football’s conglomerate powers have reared their ugly head once more.
The name change has been at large since last year, but removal of the former insignia this week has truly choked staunch Magpies fans and football traditionalists alike.
Would it have been so bad to keep that little snippet of history for Toon Army fans?
St James’ is the latest football ground to reluctantly part with its distinct appellation in resigned succession of a sponsor clad label. Leicester City’s King Power Stadium will always be regarded as former sponsor; The Walkers Stadium and York City’s once KitKat crescent will always be truly viewed as Bootham Crescent.
But as the saying goes, out with the old and in with the new, Mike Ashley has swooped ruthlessly to stamp his mark all over the stadium in which he decided to rebrand.
If Ashley hopes to hear nattering Geordie accents around the city fondly chatting about a jaunt up to the ‘Sports Direct Arena’ then he is most definitely mistaken. It is a battle he is never going to win. Who is one Buckinghamshire millionaire to tell the Geordie nation otherwise? Long live St James’.
Magpies fans have been around a much longer time than their owner, and to undermine their connection to the club in such a thoughtless way again demonstrates the widening gap between a club and the most important ingredient; its supporters.
Yes, as managing director Derek Llambias stated whilst
“Stadium rebranding offers a lucrative way for clubs to secure significant additional income”
Understandably, a staple part of Newcastle’s future, the club cannot overlook its past and where it all originated.
Modern conglomerate football takeovers are part of football, whether we like them or not, but erosion of club traditions should not be.
Some may say it’s just a name, but for Newcastle supporters St James’ Park means so much more than three syllables. Famous names of Milburn, MacDonald and Shearer have all trod the hallowed turf and giant soulless Sports Direct logos simply signify the contemporary regime; they have no more impact than to merely remind the football world of who’s in charge. It will forever be St James’ failing meaningless media mentioning’s to adhere to modern records.
A man was charged this week following his graffiti instalment of the words ‘St James’ following the signs removal representing the palpable dissent on Tyneside; something which Newcastle have been famed for over the years from onlookers across the rest of the nation.
Whilst Alan Pardew’s side continue an impressive campaign, fans will remain to turn up in their droves to their true home; St James’ Park and blank exclamations of the Sports Direct Arena.
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