Barcelona and Tottenham out of race as Newcastle United announce to strike £500m deal

Football clubs selling the naming rights for stadia is not a new phenomenon.

In the Premier League already exists the AMEX Stadium, the King Power Stadium, the Emirates Stadium, the Etihad Stadium, and the Vitality Stadium, among others. For all but the latter, the stadium naming rights changes came after a move to a new venue, where the perceived shackles of tradition were removed.

The issue of stadium naming rights isn’t new for Newcastle United, either. Back in 2009, then under the ownership of Mike Ashley, the Magpies renamed their home James’ Park. What followed in 2011 was the renaming of the stadium as the Sports Direct Arena, with then managing director Derek Llambias talking up the value of such a move.

In a statement, Llambias explained: “Our aim for Newcastle United is to continue to deliver success for the fans and everyone associated with the club. We must make this club financially self-sufficient in order to deliver that success.

To grow sustainably and allow us to invest in our future, we will need to rely increasingly heavily on commercial income. Stadium rebranding offers a lucrative way for clubs to secure significant additional income.”

It was a move that proved to be deeply unpopular, so much so that when acquired both the shirt sponsorship and stadium naming rights in 2012 they opted to revert back to the stadium being known as St James’ Park.

Things are different at Newcastle now. The acquisition of the club by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) at the end of 2021 ushered in a new era for the club, but despite being owned by one of the world’s richest sovereign wealth funds, the club is bound by what it can do in the transfer market due to the Premier League’s financial controls that exist, with the club having to engage in player trading to a significant extent on the final day of their financial year to ensure compliance with the League’s profit and sustainability rules (PSR).

PSR, as well as the greater controls that now exist around associated party transactions, something that could have been a significant lever for Newcastle to pull to raise commercial revenues and ease PSR worries, means that the club have been unable to build on their qualification for the Champions League and were even faced with the prospect of losing stars such as Alexander Isak and Bruni Guimaraes due to financial controls in June.

But the stadium naming rights potential for St James’ Park remains untapped, with no such move as yet made by the PIF. But as economic pressures on football clubs continue to build, and the odds keep getting stacked higher against those wanting to bridge the gap between themselves and the so-called ‘big six’, will there ever be a time when it would be more palatable for fans, and just how valuable could it be?

In Spain, Barcelona were willing to risk wrath when they sold the naming rights for the Nou Camp to streaming giant Spotify. That deal could have been worth more had it not been for the fact that Barcelona had limited data on their fans, something that Spotify put a great deal of focus on and that damaged the overall value.






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