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MAKE YOUR CASE: Should Sunderland change the name of the Stadium of Light?

It has been mooted that Sunderland are considering selling the naming rights for the Stadium of Light. Fans appear split on this - which camp do you fall into? Mark and Gav go head to head - vote for who you agree with in the poll in the article.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images


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Mark: Change!

Charlie Methven’s interview last week revealed how the new owners have reduced the operating cost base whilst looking at ways of growing the revenue. The current forecast is the club will make a loss of just under £10 million this year, but the hope is to reduce the cost base further and end the year with a loss of only £4 million.

Revenue is projected to rise to £18.5 million this season and, with the news that concerts are due to return to the stadium in the summer of 2019, there is hope that revenue streams will continue to be developed.

I have no issues with stadium naming rights as long as they are done for the right reasons - a long term commercial partnership, for instance.

Look at The Emirates, The Etihad, or The King Power Stadium - they are all well known names for Arsenal, Man City and Leicester City, as was the Reebok for many years at Bolton. Many fans still refer to it as such, despite Macron buying the naming rights four years ago.

Whilst the Stadium of Light was named with a nod to Wearside’s history when Bob Murray commissioned and opened the new stadium in 1997, there is no reason not to use the arena to look forward. Already the inside has dramatically changed from the orginal all-red seater stadium to a fresh, new red and white approach.

The seat change has been a significant, but sensitive, step forward and highlights the new owners’ commitment to making a new era on Wearside. I’m sure any change in stadium name would be done with equal consideration and sensitivity to the fans and the area.

Why not, then, maximise a revenue stream that continues the approach of making Sunderland AFC’s long-term future secure by offering the rights to the stadium?

The seat change has been a significant, but sensitive, step forward
Image: Sunderland AFC

Gav: Keep!

I wouldn’t say that I’m overly sentimental about the name of our Stadium, but to me it’s still the place in which I’ve watched the majority of Sunderland games over the years.

It’s quite a unique place to watch football, and if the decision was taken to rename it I think that it’d lose a bit of the lustre it carries. It wouldn’t be the Stadium of Light anymore - it’d just be like every other ground in the country that had its name changed because of a commercial partnership.

It does of course depend upon on who would be interested too - can you imagine how soul destroying it would be if a betting company bought it, for instance? It’s actually a little sickening - I don’t like the idea that we could make our ground soulless purely by changing the name.

I think of the reaction when Newcastle changed the name of St James’ Park to the Sports Direct Arena - it makes for some good fun for Sunderland supporters when taking the mick out of them, but they were very right to be annoyed that something so bland and tasteless was slapped into the name of their Stadium.

Unless the money we’re talking about is potentially life-changing - i.e. a sum that is going to buy us some very good players - then I’d be giving this a swerve. How much are the naming rights for a Championship or League One stadium even worth?

I bet it’s nowhere near enough to make fans feel comfortable with it.

Image: Getty Images

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