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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Would you sell your ground's name for £100m?

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Arsenal did it with the Emirates, Manchester City did it with the Etihad and Bolton Wanderers did the same with Reebok, but would you be happy to sell the naming rights to your stadium if it guaranteed a multi-million pound investment on the pitch?

Manchester United recently agreed a £120 million deal to rename their Carrington training ground Aon but flatly refused to sell the naming rights to Old Trafford. Huge clubs like United, Liverpool, Everton, Spurs and Aston Villa have all enjoyed great success in their stadiums. Old Trafford, Anfield, Goodison, White Hart Lane and Villa Park are known across the globe. Would you really want to taint all of that history by becoming yet another club with a corporate sponsor above the gates? 

For some fans the lure of pocketing £100 million just to rename your stadium is too hard to turn down. After all, it will always be known by its original name. I guess it was a lot easier for Arsenal, City and Bolton as they were all new stadiums so those grounds didn't have the history of Highbury, Maine Road or Burnden Park. You only have to look at the furore caused by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley when he changed St James' Park to the Sports Direct Arena.

So the question is simple, would you change your stadium's name for £100m? 

Squarefootball's Liverpool reporter Dave Disciascio.

"As a Liverpool supporter it would be awfully difficult to see any name other than Anfield signify our home ground. But the matter is full of complexity; as a balance must be struck between the identity and tradition of your club versus gaining the necessary resources and capital. 

"The significance of a non-sponsored stadium grows exponentially more dated by the season as clubs scourer every available resource in an attempt to competitively compete during the approaching Financial Fair Play era. And often established and revered stadia re-brand themselves as a consequence. 

"It is a proper shame. And I hope Anfield forever remains the home of Liverpool. Perhaps this is a too romantic view, and the world will pass me by. But I refuse to accept that football is purely about the accumulation of money."

West Brom fan Andy Wakeman.

"I don’t think it matters if the clubs sell naming rights. Grounds are but empty vessels until they are brought to life by the fans. I don’t give a hoot if The Albion sell naming rights to the Hawthorns. It will always be the Hawthorns to the fans. If clubs can generate some cash by doing it why not?

Bolton Wanderes supporter Dave Blackburn.

"Money wise, it would be a very good move and in relation to my club Bolton we will never always be sponsored by Reebok so I can't see it changing. My heart would love it to be called something like the Nat Lofthouse Stadium but my head says the money would come in very handy given our financial situation. Although it will always be the Reebok to most people. If it was still at Burnden Park that would be a different story again."

Squarefootball reporter Hugh Larkin. 

"I think for smaller clubs seeking revenue it's a good idea - but it depends on the sponsor. If clubs are going to associate with the likes of Wonga, then definitely no."

Sunderland fan Tony Ratton.

"I wouldn't have a problem with Sunderland selling the naming rights for the SOL as long as it was a good deal for the club."

Squarefootball's Aston Villa reporter James Fisher

"Never. There has to be more to football than simply making money."

Well that's what our panel of pundits think, but what would you do? Whatever yur view, we'd love to hear from you.

Follow me on Twitter at @sqf_illingworth


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