BCFC: A Ground By Any Other Name…

As clubs try to get to grips with tightening controls on spending due to FFP restrictions, the idea of selling naming rights to a stadium is one that has come to the fore. With Blues looking at additional ways to bring in revenue to the club, there are rumours of the possibility of naming rights for St Andrews being sold.

Birmingham City FC

I’ve got to be honest, I find the idea of selling naming rights to a stadium to be difficult.

For big teams in new stadiums sponsored names seem to stick – for example Arsenal playing at the Emirates Stadium, Manchester City playing at the Etihad Stadium, or looking further afield Bayern Munich playing at the Allianz Arena.

However, selling naming rights to an existing stadium doesn’t seem to work.

A good example would be Newcastle United’s ground. In November 2011, Newcastle United announced that they had renamed their ground as “Sports Direct Arena” as a “temporary measure to showcase the sponsorship opportunity to interested parties”.

The name didn’t stick with one fan going as far as to graffiti “St James” where signage had been removed.

When Wonga.com became Newcastle United’s main sponsor in 2012 they purchased the naming rights as part of the deal and restored the name St James’ Park to the ground.

I’ve heard vague rumours that Blues are looking to sell naming rights to St Andrew’s to improve the amount of revenue coming into the club. It wouldn’t be the first part of the ground to receive a sponsor’s name after the main stand was renamed the EZE Group Stand in August 2016.

While I can see the reasoning for doing it, I can’t see it being that attractive a proposition commercially.

In official correspondence and in reporting outlets would be duty bound to use the new name, but I personally can’t see fans calling St. Andrew’s by any other name than the one it has now.

With that being the case, I’m not sure how much value a naming rights deal would have.

This is especially important if the naming rights are sold to a “related party”. The much-derided FFP regulations state that

2.3 The Executive shall determine whether consideration included in the Club’s Earnings Before Tax arising from a Related Party Transaction is recorded in the Club’s Annual Accounts at a Fair Market Value. If it is not, the Executive shall restate it to Fair Market Value.

This will have affected our friends across the expressway, who confirmed in April that they had sold the naming rights to their training ground to the RECON Group, who are owned by Tony Xia.

Whatever price that they have quoted to the EFL as being the deal will have had to have shown market value – and the idea that there is much market value in a fairly unknown Chinese company buying the naming rights to a training complex is one that I’m not in agreement with.

Nothing has been even remotely confirmed that the club are looking to sell naming rights to St Andrew’s right now; but admit it – would you like the name “TTA St Andrew’s” or similar?

I’m not sure I would.

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