Date: 10th November 2011 at 12:48pm
Written by:

Good morning.

What’s in name?┬áIn a age where players’ are queuing round the block to see osteopaths and physios due to agrevated bouts of heading turning, accusations of race hate and the sinister world of roasting, a name or specifically your good name is quite possibly the only thing of value left in the game.

Players reveal just how good their name or how mud-like it is in a variety of ways. Parking in a disabled space when out for a meal, getting arrested for sexually assaulting a girl, shooting an intern, getting addicted to any variety of drugs…

United have announced that Sid James’ Park is to changed to The Sports Direct Arena. If you open a window, you will be able to hear a mixture of sounds; that of a thousand hearts breaking, that last nail being tapped into a football club’s coffin. Mike Ashley is to most up there a rather despised figure. Despite having pumped copious amounts of real money into Toon he is still viewed as a cockney mafioso.

The renaming deal is, if you bother to read the announcement in full a temporary measure. But this is clearly a lie. On those swanky architects dreams we were shown of the new Lane, there is a ‘Your Company’s Name Here’ emblazoned on the roof or whatever. Even the thickest CEO in the world cab visualize his branding whacked on the side of a stadium, on the side of anything.

No, Ashley has failed to adhere to basic maximum of life – if you’re in a hole, stop digging – and this in an age of austerity a rather cynical move involving tax advantages and some horribly misguided self publicity.

Sports Direct is a fabulous operation, gone are the days of paying over the odds for sportswear that you’ve no great attachment to. If you just want a decent pair trainers and hoodie to go to the company gym in or have perhaps been invited to participate in a little light , they are your one stop affordably priced shop. But as a branding exercise this tramples on tradition. The perception of the new name is not ‘blue chip.’

Let’s hope that & Co are watching …and learning. The current shirt sponsorship deals in place at have been considered and quite clever. Neither Investec or Autonomy carry any great baggage. Manys first response to both was, ‘who?’ The cosmetic integrity (you can tell your kids where you read that phrase first) of the shirts is largely intact. It’s primarily a shirt. A shirt with plastered across it can never come back from being the gaudy piece of junk it has been reduced to. Why not add ‘Keys Cut While U Wait At Brian’s Heel Bar’ beneath the number on the reverse?

Football is doing it’s very best to alienate the hand that feeds it.