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Renaming St James’ is grounds for Ashley to go

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

It’s been a busy day at Newcastle United with news that owner Mike Ashley has decided to take the club off the market, after no bids matched his £80m price tag. Ashley also pledged to invest a further £20m and confirmed Chris Hughton will be permanent manager until the end of the season at least after taking the Magpies to the top of the Championship.

But that’s not the news that caught our eyes.

Unbelievably Ashley has taken the decision to sell off the stadium’s ‘naming rights’ for next season. Home of Newcastle United since 1891, when the city’s East and West End clubs merged, St James’ Park represents more than 100 years of history and yet Ashley wants to sell it off?

This is a man who doesn’t understand the fans, history, traditions or responsibilties that go with owning a football club. He understands money. He understands the price of everything. He understands the value of nothing.

While the vast, vast majority of Toon fans who get in touch with us have been opposed to Ashley ever since Keegan’s departure this decision is certain to kill off even the remaining few who stood by him.

As the rather excellent Nufc.com points out if he wants to “maximise commercial revenues” then don’t try and run a football club by replacing competent and loyal staff with inexperienced yes men.

Raising an extra couple of million from naming rights is peanuts in today’s football world, it’s an average Championship midfielder – is that really all a club’s tradition now counts for?

Our guess is this plan won’t actually go through, there’s going to be an almighty backlash on this from Toon fans.

More than anything though it once again highlights how little Ashley understands the club’s supporters – little wonder they want rid.

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

Partners

  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • SD Europe