Iconic Ibrox to become Sports Direct Arena Newcastle owner Ashley wants second major stadium controversially renamed
09:29 GMT, 29 November 2012
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is understood to be in negotiations with Rangers for naming rights to the Glasgow club’s iconic Ibrox Stadium.
The proposed deal would lead to one of football’s most famous stadiums, which opened in 1899, being renamed the Sports Direct Arena to promote Ashley’s sports retail empire.
Rangers have been exploring image rights deals since the Charles Green-led consortium took over the troubled club last June, shortly before they were demoted to the Third Division.
What's in a name: Mike Ashley is in talks over the naming rights of Ibrox
However, any move to rename the stadium is certain to anger many Rangers fans, even given the club’s financial plight.
Indeed, many would never acknowledge Ibrox being called anything else.
Ashley caused fury on Tyneside a year ago by renaming Newcastle’s own historic St James’ Park as the Sports Direct Arena, to showcase the branding opportunities to potential naming rights partners.
But Newcastle reverted back to St James’ Park last month in a bid to appease growing supporter concern about another re-naming —to the Wonga Arena — after a new 32million shirt sponsorship deal was signed with the controversial short-term loan company who charge huge interest.
Now, despite that setback, the opportunity to have his company name on an even more world-renowned football venue greatly appeals to Ashley, who is expanding his Sports Direct business in Scotland.
OTHER STADIA WITH SPONSORS
Arsenal – The Emirates
The Gunners signed a 100m deal with Emirates Airline in October 2004 in a 15-year deal, which was extended last week until 2028.
Stoke City – The Britannia Stadium
The building society were instrumental in funding the 27,000-capacity stadium and signed a 1m, 10-year sponsorship deal in August 1997, later extended.
Bolton Wanderers – The Reebok Stadium
The stadium was named after long-time kit supplier and local company Reebok when it opened in 1997.
Sponsorship: Bolton's home has always been known as the Reebok
Dagenham and Redbridge – London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Stadium
English football's most bizarre sponsorship tie-up and unwieldy title, announced in July 2007.
Ireland – The Aviva Stadium
Built on the site of Lansdowne Road, this new 52,000 seater stadium was sponsored from its opening.
Spectacular: The Aviva Stadium in Dublin
Imtech Arena – Hamburg
Previous incarnations have been the AOL and the HSH Nordbank Arena, but from July 2010 Hamburg's home has been sponsored by the biological sciences company.
Dick's Sporting Goods Park – Colorado Rapids
A good number of MLS teams play in branded stadia, but this has to be the most ridiculous.
Pizza Hut Park – FC Dallas
Reflecting the American's love of fast food is the home of Texan MLS franchise FC Dallas. Pizza Hut have their headquarters nearby.
Something to tell us
Former Brazil captain Zico announced
his resignation as coach of Iraq following a contract dispute, just
after he shared a conference panel with England manager Roy Hodgson at
the Soccerex conference in Rio, which discussed international football.
Exit: Zico has quit as manager of Iraq following a contract dispute
Trash room talking
The peace talks between Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and the 16 elite referees following the false Mark Clattenburg racism allegations took place in a meeting room in the budget Hampton by Hilton hotel wing of St George’s Park.
However, the officials each have luxury rooms in the alternative upmarket Hilton accommodation at SGP during their regular training camps. These have moved from Warwick University, where the referees had to double up in basic student rooms.
Ronnie Radford’s iconic 1972 winning goal for Hereford against Newcastle is such an FA Cup staple that Conference sponsors Blue Square Bet are pledging to give the non-League club 500 for every fan who finds the top corner of the net in a recreation of the Radford strike taking place at Edgar Street tomorrow.
Stadium solution close
The future of the Olympic Stadium will become clearer on Wednesday when West Ham are expected to be finally named as preferred bidders following a legacy process branded a ‘farce’ by UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner.
There is optimism a solution can at last be reached in the financial wrangling over who pays what for transforming a 500million track-and-field arena into a multi-sports stadium that could cost a further 200m.
Up for grabs: West Ham set to be named preferred Olympic Stadium bidders
Negotiations now surround only the final 20m to 30m of the spend with the Government hopeful the London Legacy Development Corporation, plus West Ham and Newham Council, will contribute more — along with Whitehall — to make the numbers stack up.
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Heather Rabbatts, the first woman and mixed-race member of the FA board, has emerged as a contender to succeed David Bernstein as FA chairman next May.
And Rabbatts’ chances are improved by the other FA independent director Roger Devlin ruling himself out by being on the nominations panel.
Football League chairman Greg Clarke is another being linked with the FA job as well as the Premier League chairmanship, although London 2012 vice-chairman Sir Keith Mills could have his pick of both positions.
Ricardo Teixeira, the disgraced former FIFA executive committee member for Brazil exposed for taking bribes from the body’s now defunct former marketing partners ISL, has retired to Miami.
FIFA insiders do not expect him to return to Brazil because he would face questioning on a variety of corruption issues involving millions of pounds. Teixeira’s successor on the FIFA ExCo, Marco Polo del Nero, has had his home raided by Brazilian Police investigating alleged links with a criminal organisation.