The Name is Park, Villa Park
For now Villa Park has escaped having its name ‘officially’ changed to serve a major sponsorship deal, but what happens when a new owner of Aston Villa comes in and needs to make up the lost Premier League revenue to get the club’s ducks in a row to fund a promotion push?
Like Anfield and Old Trafford, Villa Park is a name football tradition dictates you just don’t mess with. You would hope it would provoke the kind of outrage with Villa supporters that Newcastle fans felt when Mike Ashley turned St James Park into the ‘Sports Direct Arena’. A fact that no doubt later influenced Wonga.com’s decision to score some brownie points with fans by changing the name back to St James Park, when they paid for the stadium naming rights as part of their overall sponsorship package.
A stadium move for Arsenal helped smooth over fan acceptance of the Emirates Stadium, as did Manchester City shifting from Maine Road to the Commonwealth stadium, which was renamed the Etihad.
Naming rights only came into Villa supporter’s thinking when the rumour of Red Bull’s interest in taking over Villa surfaced a couple of seasons ago. While the renaming of a club like Aston Villa is thankfully a far-off notion for now, the renaming of Villa Park or the individual stands at least, looks like it could happen sooner rather than later.
Certainly Randy Lerner was pushing naming rights as a valuable asset and attraction for potential buyers of the club in the Merrill and Lynch brochure (see below) advertising the club a year or so ago.
With the club’s drop from the lucrative TV-rights world of the Premier League, a new owner will need to maximise their assets and the naming rights to Villa Park and its stands, would be a trump financial card to potentially play.
How would Aston Villa supporters feel about such a change? Should we be privy in advance as supporters to any eventual decision to change the name of the stadium or stand?
Any potential buyer will have the choice of renaming the stadium themselves or selling the rights for external sponsorship.
If Villa supporters want to uphold tradition and keep the Villa Park name, they would certainly have to make their voices heard.
Supporters have to be realistic though and funds will be needed to get us back on track and such sponsorship helps in terms of Financial Fair Play. A compromise would be the sponsor renaming of one or two of the stands at Villa Park.
MOMS doesn’t want to influence you with our ideas on this, but if you had to pick one stand at Villa Park, as a sacrifice to the gods of sponsorship, which one would it be? Vote in the below poll:
It does look like a sale of the club is finally in the offering, so as supporters it’s worth starting to think about the potential changes that could be afoot at our football club.
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