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Monday, 11 July 2011

The days of original stadium names are numbered

It's nothing brand new to hit the footballing world that sponsorship is having a huge influence over clubs in England and across the world. Kit sponsorships are constantly being updated, sometimes year on year to raise finances for the clubs to be able to survive. In the not so recent years, new stadiums have been built with the help of sponsors too, like the Reebok Stadium at Bolton, the Britannia Stadium at Stoke and more recently the Emirates Stadium at Arsenal (as seen above). These key sponsors have helped develop some magnificent sporting venues across the world. For the new stadiums, the clubs have signed agreements to name their new stadium after these sponsors. Great for the running of the club financially, but for the history and heritage of the club, a good thing? I'm not so sure. It puts finances and sponsorships above the actual heart of the club, and turns the feeling into more of a business than a way of life.
Now, don't think that I am oblivious to the changes to the game in the last 10 years. I have lived through it, followed it and more importantly enjoyed the changes in the last 10 years. The added revenue for sponsorships have helped clubs move into the new age of football, which is good for the game in England.

But......(there's always a but with me)

Manchester City have sold their stadium name to Etihad (A UAE airline) for over £100 million. Yes, the City of Manchester Stadium is a new stadium, named Eastlands in recent years, but for the name to just be sold? I think it is a sign of things to come for other Premier League clubs, as they work hard to ensure they can recoup as much revenue as possible, especially with the new financial fair play rules coming in very soon. So, could Anfield, Goodison Park, White Hart Lane, St James' Park, Stamford Bridge be names of the past? What does the future hold for these stadiums?

With the changing nature of the game and the fact that teams need to increase their revenues year on year, the stadium name is one area that I can see changing in the near future. Following on from the deal at Manchester City with Etihad, I can see other clubs following suit to help develop their business in order to meet the financial fair play rules.

What are your views? Let me know

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