Map-makers stick with St James’s as Newcastle United ground name

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MAP-makers have confirmed they will still call the home of Newcastle United St James’s Park.

The chief executive at Ordnance Survey has written to a North-East MP to say that as far as she is concerned, the Sports Direct Arena name is temporary.

United owner Mike Ashley caused fury when he changed the name of St James’s Park to the Sports Direct Arena after his company.

But in a letter to Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah, Government mapping boss Vanessa Lawrence said they will defer to local opinion when deciding on using the Sports Direct Arena name favoured by Mr Ashley.

It follows a previous Ordnance Survey ruling that St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton was not renamed The Friends Provident St Mary’s Stadium as the move was linked to a finite period of time.

Unless Newcastle Council starts to put up new road signs pointing to a renamed ground, a move which has already been ruled out, Ordnance Survey will be siding with fans who oppose the name change.

Ms Onwurah said she will now be writing to Google and others to make sure the Government-backed name of St James’s Park is recognised.

In her letter to the MP, Dr Lawrence said that since no one was using the new name, there would be no change, meaning the name is preserved on all the Government’s official maps.

She said: “If the new name is adopted by the owners of the stadium but this does not lead to a change in direction signage by the local authority, then the Ordnance Survey would not change its mapping because the new name lacked evidence of longevity and extensiveness of usage.”

And after looking at the club’s statement setting out that the Sports Direct name is only there until a new sponsor comes along, Dr Lawrence said it is unlikely they will be adopting any name changes.

She added: “Ordnance Survey takes the view that the change of name is temporary, and it will not change the published name of St James’s Park at this time.”

She adds that this could change, were the city to warm to a new name. Ms Onwurah welcomed the official victory.

She said: “I am very happy that Ordnance Survey recognise the importance of St James’s Park, and that they will be joining fans in keeping that name alive.

“I will now be writing to Google and others organisations to seek to ensure that whenever people see Newcastle on a map, they see St James’s Park. It is an important part of our city’s heritage, and should be recognised as such.”

Newcastle United declined to comment.

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