Sports PR experts divided on football stadium naming rights row

A sports PR expert has branded Newcastle Football Club's new stadium name a 'joke', while new reports suggest Chelsea could be next to sell its stadium naming rights.

Chelsea FC's football home: Stamford Bridge
Chelsea FC's football home: Stamford Bridge

Newcastle confirmed earlier this week that St James Park is to be renamed James' Park Stadium until the end of the season in an attempt to raise funds.

Synergy sponsorship director of communications Stephanie Branston said: ‘The Newcastle stadium renaming is a joke. The media and fan reaction tells its own story. At a time when the Newcastle owner really needed to get on the side of the fans, he has just further distanced himself from them.'

She added: ‘For fans the stadium of the club they support is like a second home. For a club to sell that name is like selling its soul. The deal Newcastle have just done comes across as an act of desperation.'

The Daily Telegraph has reported today that Chelsea will follow Newcastle's lead and sell the naming rights to Stamford Bridge.

However Branston advised against renaming an existing stadium unless it has undergone a complete refurbishment or re-positioning.

Weber Shandwick head of media and co-head of sport Fiona McLachlan said: ‘We have seen a move towards naming-right partnerships in the Premiership for new stadiums amongst clubs such as Arsenal FC with the Emirates stadium and the Reebok Stadium at Bolton FC, so the naming of existing stadiums is simply the next step.'

She added: ‘For a brand it offers them an opportunity to enhance their profile and raise awareness of their products amongst key audiences to drive  business objectives. It also aligns their brand with elite sport through access to teams and individuals and most importantly, utilising the club's brand and heritage.'



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