Newcastle United’s Derek Llambias says controversial renaming of St James’s Park to Sports Direct Arena will bring up to £10million into club

Newcastle United's owner Mike Ashley (left) with Derek Llambias.
Newcastle United's owner Mike Ashley (left) with Derek Llambias.

DEREK Llambias today claimed the controversial renaming of St James’s Park could swell Newcastle United’s coffers by £8-10m a year.

The club have renamed the stadium the Sports Direct Arena in a move which has provoked uproar among fans.

United are looking for a “global” business to buy joint shirt and stadium naming rights.

And Mike Ashley’s sportswear company is being used to “showcase” the potential of the branding in the interim.

Llambias insisted the deeply unpopular decision to abandon the 119-year-old name was necessitated by the need to be self-sufficient and compete at the top end of the Premier League, with other revenues, including retail, having flatlined during the economic recession.

Asked how much money the stadium renaming would bring in, Llambias said: “About £8-10m a year.

“That would give us another player. The club needs to be self sufficient.

“We’ve had an exceptional start to the year, and long may that continue, but we need to buy more players.

“There are no guarantees we’ll be able to find a new sponsor between now and then, but we have to keep going with it.

“We have to give ourselves the opportunity to sell it.

“Chelsea came out and said they will rename their stadium. We can’t compare ourselves to Roman Abramovich, but we want to compete with the big boys and bring in revenues.”

Newcastle’s long-running shirt sponsorship deal with Northern Rock runs out at the end of the season, and Llambias says he needs to find a new sponsor for the jerseys, and preferably St James’s Park as well, by the end of next month.

“It’s a worry,” he said. “We lose Northern Rock this year.

“We need to find a shirt sponsor by the end of December. Puma would have liked it last month. If we have to sell it separately, we’ll sell them separately.”

St James’s Park has been the club’s home since it was formed in 1892 by the merger of Newcastle End End and Newcastle West End.

And Llambias, speaking on Radio Newcastle, says the club’s proud history isn’t being “disrespected” by the decision to rename the stadium.

“We totally respect the tradition and history of the club,” he said.

“That will always be there, but we need to move with the times. We need to move on.

“We’re not disrespecting our fans. We’re trying to make it affordable and put players on the pitch.

“We’ve exhausted other revenue streams – retail isn’t good.”

Read more about the controversial decision by Newcastle United in Thursday’s Sportmail.