Tyne & Wear

Newcastle United removes St James' Park sign

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Media captionThe final letters of the St James' Park sign being removed from Newcastle United's ground

The St James' Park sign has been removed from Newcastle United's football ground to make way for its new name.

The name change from St James' Park to the Sports Direct Arena was announced in November.

The club said the change was temporary and it hoped to "showcase" the sponsorship opportunity to "interested parties".

Managing director Derek Llambias said it could generate up to £10m a year.

When the club announced the name change to Sports Direct Arena - the company of club owner Mike Ashley - Newcastle United fans labelled it a "disgrace", with most refusing to use the new name.

Even Newcastle City Council asked local media organisations not to recognise the Sports Direct Arena name.

Newcastle United FC have given no comment on the new signage.

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Media captionNewcastle United fans talk about the name change of the St James Park ground to the Sports Direct Arena

Toon Talk fanzine editor Steve Wraith said: "From my perspective, it's not a great shock, we knew it was going to happen.

"But the annoying thing is the timing. They have picked a gap in-between fixtures to remove the signs."

He said he thought it was a bit pointless doing it before the 2012 Olympics, when it will have to be called St James' Park again due to sponsorship agreements during the coverage of the event.

Mr Wraith said that from a sentimental point of view, he would still call it St James' Park.

The club have been playing at the site for 120 years. It is now the sixth biggest stadium in England, with a capacity of more than 52,000 seats.

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