Newcastle Club Focus – Name change controversy hits Magpies

With everything going so well on Tyneside it was only a matter of time before another controversy made the headlines, this time on the name of Newcastle’s spiritual home.

Late on Wednesday night it was announced that the club would be changing the name of its ground from St James’ Park to the Sports Direct Arena. The decision is sure to prove unpopular with the fans who have attended matches at St James’ Park for over 100 years.

The idea behind the name change is to showcase the potential of stadium sponsorship to any potential bidders. With current kit sponsors Northern Rock set to bring an end to their sponsorship when this season concludes there is potential to take on the branding rights at one of Britain’s best supported clubs. Newcastle’s Managing Director Derek Llambias told BBC Newcastle: “I would hope to generate between £8m-10m a year, that will give us another player. To compete we need to go further, we’ve had a fantastic start. The fans want us to buy more players, we need a new striker in January, we’ll need replacements in the summer.”

Before this news broke there was a feeling that the supporter’s bitterness towards owner Mike Ashley and Llambias was easing thanks to a fantastic start to the new season. With the club easing towards self-sufficiency and season tickets at very reasonable prices there were plenty of positives on and off the pitch. It remains to be seen whether any companies decide to take over the naming rights with many top clubs struggling to find sponsorship in the tough economic climate. At new grounds it is slightly easier but for long established stadia there is an unwillingness to change years of history.

Newcastle have several players on international duty over the weekend with first team stars Demba Ba and Tim Krul the most notable call-ups. Without injury problems there may have been several more first team regulars away with their countries over the next few days. Leon Best is struggling with a groin problem and is unlikely to feature for the Republic of Ireland in their crucial game against Estonia. Midfield duo Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote also have injury problems and will not be involved with their national teams. Manager Alan Pardew may feel that this is blessing in disguise so long as he can nurse his key players back to fitness for their big game against Manchester City on the 19th November.

In other international news youngster Sammy Ameobi has received his maiden call-up for the England Under-21s. The striker made his debut as an early substitute against Iceland in their European Championship qualifier. The youngest Ameobi brother has been making steady progress this season making seven appearances from the bench in all competitions. His versatility has made him an important member of the squad as he able to play as either an attacking midfielder or as a striker. This campaign he has managed to push himself up the pecking order ahead of the likes of Peter Lovenkrands and Nile Ranger.

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