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Thursday, 10 July 2014

The City Ground Naming Rights Debate




There was a rumour doing the rounds over night that there was a possibility of renaming the City ground, the Kuwait City Ground, as an FFP workaround. Seems remotely plausible and yet completely ridiculous. But what it does is reignite a debate about the corporate side of football and its influence.

We all have laughed at the generic commercially branded stadiums. IPRO always gets a mocking. And something like the Sports Direct@ St James Park was always a completely laughable enterprise. But then many a corporate sponsored ground name takes hold. The Reebok Stadium for instance, we will all call it that for years, but it's actually the Macron Stadium now. Huddersfield Towns ground has changed name a number of times, McAlpine, Galpharm, and now John Smiths. The Emirates will only be known as the Emirates as long as that deals hold, but will probably have that name stick for years. So if we followed suit, the majority would always call it the City Ground regardless.

And aside from a real embarrassing sponsor does anyone notice? It's part of life. The Ice Arena is sponsored (in fact all arenas' nationwide are sponsored) a lot of international stadia are sponsored. Is the reality, not that we are holding on to tradition but lagging behind the times? Yes it's nice to have traditions, but if some of those were put aide, but not lost and it could bring success, would it be selling out? Or would it be common sense?

There is a merry balance. The problem is when you go sailing too far down the corporate line. Coventry was ridiculous when I was there the other year. In their new stadium, nothing was sacred. Everything was for sale, but with the club struggling for its very existence, when money dominates all, and its survival versus tradition, I guess Survival takes over. Corporately sponsored messages in the game, all the stands being branded, hell I swear even bookings were accompanied by a Lawyer firm's message.

That’s too far. It's to a point of ridiculousness.

So what if we were to be rebranded stadium wise. We'd all still know it as the City ground. The only time it isn't called that is in the media. I was always against it, was glad of our hold on tradition, but now I think we are missing a trick. People would have said the same with shirt sponsorship, and now look, you get kids on twitter begging to know who it will be and people not buying shirts till it's printed on. It's become a key core part of football. And gradually Stadium Naming rights are going the same way.

The naming of the stands will also be something that needs looking at. Again I know its tradition, but it is something we should look at. We did before with the short lived Money Shop Bridgford Stand. The Brian Clough Stand should be left well alone, that needs leaving as tradition, but I wouldn't be to against certainly the Bridgford End or the Main Stand (Though who'd put their name to a shed of a stand) so that leaves the Trent End, which seems wrong, but that’s the world.

It seems wrong, and you can pontificate about it all you like, but modern football has moved on, and to ignore that and hold on to traditions just basically means getting left behind. Only the very biggest clubs can completely ignore it, their revenues are till generated in ever more covert ways. Man hester United getting their training kit a different sponsor, Manchester City and all the Etihad sponsorship deals, increasingly if it's something you can put a brand on, football will do it.

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