Mike Ashley: Why I felt 'stupid' after renaming St James's Park

Mike Ashley, centre
Mike Ashley, centre

Mike Ashley says he got it wrong when he renamed St James's Park.

Newcastle United's home was rebranded the Sports Direct Arena in a hugely-unpopular move in late 2011.

The club said at the time the move was to "showcase" the sponsorship opportunity to "interested parties". The ill-fated move was reversed when Wonga took over as Newcastle's sponsors the following year.

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United owner Ashley has given a rare interview to Sky Sports in which he has revealed why he won't pump more cash into the club.

Sky have released more quotes from "Mike Ashley: Speaks Direct", which airs at 7pm tonight on Sky Sports Premier League, and the billionaire addresses the controversial stadium renaming.

St James's Park

St James's Park

"The first thing you feel is stupidity, because as soon as you know the hindsight of something, you know what you were doing wrong," said Ashley.

"I thought it was the right thing to do was to generate as much money as possible for Newcastle, so when people say to me 'whatever you do on an interview do not talk about changing the name of St James's Park!'

"Well I'm me, and I'm going to talk about making an error, and I should not have changed the name of St James's Park. I should not have done that.

"Football is not all about making money and reinvesting it into football clubs. It has a very strange balance to it. I wanted to get naming rights, get money in and invest it into the club.

"The reality is, the vast majority of the Geordie fans would rather have the name of St James'S Park, and finish maybe one or two places lower in the table, because they want to keep it special.

"You begin to learn that the special side of Newcastle means a little bit more than the ultimate end performance on the pitch."

Newcastle kick off their season with a home game against Tottenham Hotspur this afternoon.