Tyne & Wear

Newcastle fans condemn St James' Park rename

St James' Park
Image caption St James' Park has been the home of Newcastle since 1892

Newcastle United fans have reacted with anger to the decision to rename St James' Park.

The stadium will be called the Sports Direct Arena until a new global sponsor can be found, in a move club bosses say will maximise revenue.

However, many fans are unhappy with the move, with some branding it "absolutely appalling" and a "disgrace".

Mark Jensen, editor of Newcastle United fanzine The Mag, described it as "all stick and no carrot".

Speaking outside the ground, fan Eileen Fox said: "It's absolutely appalling, it will always be St James' Park."

Another fan, Aitken Head, added: "It's a disgrace, we might as well change the name of the city.

"Newcastle United and St James' Park are together like black and white, do you want me to cut my vein and show you?"

However, a third fan, Darren Cowan, who also lives in Newcastle, said: "Give Mike Ashley his due, let's see what happens.

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Media captionNewcastle United fans react to the proposed name change at St James' Park

"If it works and it brings in money, then fair enough."

Former Newcastle defender John Anderson said he thought that most fans would continue to call it St James' Park.

He added: "I think it's going to rub people up the wrong way, a lot of people aren't going to be happy with it."

Derek Llambias, the club's managing director, said it could generate up to £10m a year.

'First and last game'

He said: "Money's tight, football's expensive and if we can make it cheaper to come, then that's our job done.

"We are not disrespecting our fans, at all, far from it, we are trying to make it more affordable and put some new players onto the pitch."

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Media captionMagpies deal essential to compete - Llambias

Mr Jenson said: "Every club which has had its ground named after a sponsor tends to be a new ground, or in Manchester City's case, it's going to bring in massive amounts of money.

"It's a very strange way to run a big business which happens to be a football club.

"I think there are much better ways of maximising the potential revenue than turning their fan-base against them."

He added: "People will continue to support the players on the pitch as they have always done no matter what the circumstances."

Newcastle forward Sammy Ameobi, who made his first appearance at the home ground on Saturday, said in a tweet: "I guess my first game at St James's Park was my last."

Nexus, which owns the Tyne and Wear Metro, said the station which was named after the home of Newcastle United would continue to be known as St James.

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