The Daily Mail have reported that Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is in negotiations with Rangers chief executive Charles Green for naming rights to Ibrox stadium.
According to the newspaper: “the proposed deal would lead to one of football’s most famous stadiums, which opened in 1899, being renamed the Sports Direct Arena to promote Ashley’s sports retail empire. Rangers have been exploring image rights deals since the Charles Green-led consortium took over the troubled club last June.”
The United owner’s renaming of St. James’ Park, over a year ago, to the Sports Direct Arena saw Newcastle fans react with anger and hatred towards Ashley. That deal and the name change ended last month, when Wonga signed a deal worth £32 million for sponsorship[ of the kit and then reverted the name back to St. James’ Park to appease fans somewhat.
Despite the venomous hatred aimed at Ashley by his club’s own supporters, he is now set to have his company name emblazoned on the Ibrox stadium, as Sports Direct looks set to fill the void in Scotland left behind by the defunct JJB Sports. Risking the wrath of Rangers fans, who have had to deal with a lot over the past year or so.
On the Rangers messageboard Follow Follow, the fans were split over the naming rights issue. One supporter stated: “….would still be Ibrox and if the money is right then why not?”
And that comment was backed up by another poster who added: “Expected something like this to happen at some point along the line. Doesn’t bother me too much as long as Ibrox was still included in the name somewhere.”
However there were some who were dead set against the idea. One disgruntled punter stated: “Absolutely not. Ashley should know better. This will only turn us away from buying his merchandise.”
A comment backed up by another fan unhappy at the thought, adding: “I find this whole stadium naming rights disgusting. Don’t like it at all. And yeah i know it will provide income. And yeah i know everyone will still call it Ibrox. My opinion is it’s disgusting. Almost selling our souls for more cash. If Green is as well off as he would have us believe, then there is no need for this.”
The general consensus though is whatever Ashley and Green want to rename the stadium, for the fans it will forever be Ibrox. One poster’s comment said it all: “The common consensus is that they can call it what they want, it will still be Ibrox to us all. The name is ingrained in our history, our songs and our soul.”