Fast forward to the back page of the MEN yesterday and there is an article from Chris Bailiey extolling the club to sell the naming rights to The Stadium to benefit the club financially.
The link to the article is here, but I thought it was worth posting up in full - even if it is a little lengthy:
Maybe I'm being a little mischeivous here but reading through the article it reads exactly as though it is a club release designed to test the water ahead and float the idea of selling the stadium name in preperation for a deal come the end of the season. The article is very much a pro-sale one, but has come a little out of the blue considering the clubs denial less than a couple of weeks ago.
WHAT'S in a name? Well, actually, heaps of cash if you
play your cards right.
That's why if I were sitting in the accounts office
at Manchester City Council this morning, I would be picking up the phone to
Blues' chief executive Alistair Mackintosh and chairman John Wardle and talking
about a title for a Premiership stadium that is a great credit to both
Finding a corporate bigwig to adorn the ground with their brand name
could make the Blues and the council millions in extra cash - and that surely
wouldn't come amiss on either balance sheet.
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City have spent the past couple of weeks strenuously denying
rumours that they are about the sell the name of the ground and there is no
reason whatsoever to believe otherwise. To do so they would have to negotiate
changes to the terms of the 250-year lease they signed with the council after
inheriting the stadium following the hugely successful Manchester Commonwealth
Games in 2002.
That detail, though, surely shouldn't stop both parties
at least investigating the possibility of some corporate schmoosing in the
pursuit of a deal that will suit everyone.
It is hard to envisage any City
fan being up in arms at the thought of their new home receiving a fresh name.
Even those Blues who perpetually view life through a half-empty glass must see
that it could benefit them and the team by providing a cash injection to a club
always seeking ways of producing worthwhile investment.
Supporters have not
been in the ground long enough to develop an umbilical cord attachment to the
There are not any of the large doses of sentiment, tradition or
history surrounding the stadium as there were at dear old Maine Road - a name
that no one would have wanted to disappear for the sake of
To have suggested hawking off Maine Road's name would
have been close to Blue blasphemy, but not so the current home that seems to me
has no identity at all at present.
Some call it `Eastlands', an area that
doesn't officially exist on maps, some who like expending their breath call it
by its Sunday best name `City of Manchester Stadium', others prefer to shorten
that to `COMS' while still more refer to City's stronghold as `Sportcity' in
keeping with those nice brown signs that help everyone find their way to the
See what I mean. How unifying it would be to find a once and for all
handle to attach to the name.
There simply have to be companies, Blue Chip ones
naturally, who would be willing to fork out more than just a few quid to have
their name become synonymous with a magnificent state of the art
Highbury no longer exists but people are already happy
to say Emirates Stadium, Bolton jettisoned the burden of Burnden to ply their
trade at the Reebok, and even cricket is played at the Fosters Oval.
down the footballing ladder, Doncaster occupy the Earth Stadium and Swansea The
Liberty. Over the pond in America where the dollar is much mightier than any
sentiment over concrete and steel, it is possible to watch NFL at the Heinz or
the Fed-Ex Stadium. All the teams concerned have benefited financially from
changing the name of the ground.
With a UEFA Cup final in the pipeline and rugby and
soccer internationals as well as concerts from world-renowned artists regular
features at a packed Eastlands/Coms/Sportcity now would seem the perfect time to
standardise the name and make it known throughout the globe.
And if some
money can be made then all well and good.
Now, personally I don't have a problem with selling the stadium name - as much for anything that it still doesn't have a name that all fans refer to it as, but if a deal has been done already then maybe the club was caught a little off-guard when the story first came into the public domain and this article will do nothing to dissuade opinion that the article in the MEN is one designed to ease any criticism on the board if they do end up backtracking over the stadium name issue.