THE sight of workmen crowbarring the name St James’s Park off a wall outside Newcastle United’s home was a sign of the times.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t go down well on Tyneside.
However, the signage will soon be restored after Wonga.com agreed to sponsor the club – and pay for the stadium to be renamed St James’s Park.
Whatever the misgivings about the four-year tie-up with the payday loans firm, the scrapping of the deeply unpopular Sports Direct Arena name has been welcomed.
“Obviously, we’ve got a sponsor coming in here who has bought the right to put his own company’s name on the stadium, and decided to make it St James’s Park,” Newcastle manager Alan Pardew told the Gazette.
“I think that’s absolutely brilliant news. I said to (Wonga’s co-owner, Errol Damelin) ‘I think the same sign should go up, and he agreed with that’.
“So we’ll get the crowbar dent out of the sign we’ve got, and put that one back up where it belongs.
“We have, for four years, (the stadium) what it should be called, in my opinion. Just my opinion, because I’m not a businessman. I’m an emotional man. I’m a football person.”
Wonga’s chief marketing officer Darryl Bowman insisted there was never any chance of the stadium being renamed the Wonga Arena.
“Whenever we’ve got involved in football, it’s always about making our involvement more meaningful and relevant for fans,” said Bowman.
“With Newcastle, a big thing that stood out for fans was that. It actually worked very, very well, as Derek (Llambias, United managing director) was keen to sell the sponsorship deal as a stadium and shirt relationship.
“Clearly, we saw that as an opportunity to give something back to the fans.
“It seems to be the source of mirth to think of the Wonga Stadium or Wongadome, but we understand that there’s a better way of doing it.”