12 Nov 2011

Newcastle fans furious with name change

2:50 pm on 12 November 2011

Newcastle United football fans reacted with fury after the club announced it was dropping the 119-year-old name of its ground St James' Park and calling it the Sports Direct Arena instead.

In a statement the club says it's renaming the ground, Newcastle's home since 1892, after the name of owner Mike Ashley's company - until they find a sponsor to take over the full naming rights for the stadium on a permanent basis.

Owner Ashley has been unpopular with Newcastle fans since taking over the club in 2007, but Newcastle's excellent, unbeaten start to the season which has allowed them climb to third in the Premier League table, had taken the sting out of the fans' attitude towards him of late.

However, the move has re-ignited the animosity with fans scathing towards him on Newcastle message boards.

The England cricketer Steve Harmison, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said: "Of all the things Mike Ashley has done since he became owner, I think this is the one people will find hardest to forgive and forget."