MPs call on Newcastle United owner to scrap name change

MIKE ASHLEY ... facing calls to scrap the re-naming of St James's Park.
MIKE ASHLEY ... facing calls to scrap the re-naming of St James's Park.

LABOUR MPs are calling on Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley to reconsider his decision to scrap the name St James’s Park.

The 12 MPs, including Jarrow’s Stephen Hepburn, have signed a House of Commons motion which describes the change to Sports Direct Arena as “corporate vandalism”.

Ashley caused outrage among fans in November, when he announced that the stadium, which had been called St James’s Park for 119 years, was being re-branded.

Anger among fans grew last week when workmen removed the famous metal sign from outside the stadium.

Yesterday MPs from across the North East, and as far afield as Mansfield and Derby, signed a motion to the Commons, which says: “That this house deeply regrets the decision to re-brand the historic home of Newcastle United Football Club, St James’s Park, and condemns the corporate vandalism perpetrated by the club’s owners in removing the name St James’s Park from the stadium.”

The motion mentions concerns raised by Virgin Money, the club’s new shirt sponsor, about the name change, and Newcastle City Council’s refusal to change road signs directing motorists to the ground.

The motion is signed by Labour MPs Ian Mearns, Pat Glass, Catherine McKinnell, Chi Onwurah, Nick Brown, Ian Lavery, Dennis Skinner, David Anderson, Mary Glindon, Stephen Hepburn, Alex Cunningham and Sir Alan Meale.

A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said: “Many thousands of fans have made their opposition to the name-change very clear, and the city council is sad to see the club follow through on its decision to rename St James’s Park.

“We’ve already said we won’t be changing any signage around the city centre and, no matter what the signage says, it will always be St James’s Park to the people of Newcastle.”

The club declined to comment on the issue today.

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