Naming Rights: They're Just Wrong

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Naming Rights: They're Just Wrong
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

"Hmmmmm...what to name a stadium and all stands in it.
After legendary players of the team? Nah that wouldn't get any money would it?
After all, it is only intangible passion and respect.

No, no, I need an irrelevant sponsor's name to really give that company some exposure. So much in fact that it completely overshadows the popularity of the football club itself. Ah, there we go, The ENIC Stadium!"

The above quote was my idea of Daniel Levy's thought process when thinking of some silly name for a new stadium, even though the entire site will be located closer to White Hart Lane than the previous one!

I keep saying football has rotted to the core with money, sponsorship, and protectionism of TV rights in order to maintain the other two things I mentioned six seconds ago.

What has happened to the love of the game instead of desire for money from the game?

I'm talking about sponsors and a wild demand for copyright protection of live images of Fernando Torres' face.

So here I am with another rant. It’s in two parts. Part one is about the childish money-grabbing techniques of IMG media who hold "rights" to the Premier League amongst other sporting events.

Part two is about the golden carrots that sponsors dangle in front of football clubs.


PART ONE

You see, instead of IMG Media (which is American—notice the pattern yet?) letting Sky and ESPN (UK) split the games right down the middle and offering their share on a red-button feature (which Sky came up with in the first place and also offer every Champions' League fixture on), they let countries where the English Premier League games aren't played have 80 percent of the remaining games, without offering them to the country where they're played!!!

Why can't they just offer the games here AND sell rights to those countries? They are too silly to realise that there are more Tottenham, West Ham, Aston Villa, Sunderland, and Everton fans in the UK than there are in Romania!

Where’s the financial disadvantage in showing all games in their country of origin whilst selling them to other countries at the same time? It’s not fair on the more local fan bases who can’t always get access to tickets because of the corporate sections within the stadiums being reserved.

IMG media have made it harder on themselves by supporting these silly laws to protect live video which, when live, is INTANGIBLE! Live footage isn’t tangible unless it’s recorded. Lyrics and music by artists are tangible. That’s the difference.

Put England first for English football.

Don’t worry, they’ll still have their £billions at the end of the week.

Maybe more if they broadcast all matches, but they don’t, and yet this company wonders why very few people are subscribing to Sky Sports/ESPN. You can put all the sports you like on them, but football is the most watched game in the world.

Therefore, a red-button feature for league matches would have the executives of IMG, Sky Sports, and ESPN up to their eyeballs in money, while all football fans would be up to their eyeballs in their PREFERRED team, rather than the top four, which a lot of fans don’t want to watch every single weekend.

If a red button feature for the Champions League is available midweek and people are happy with that, why not the Premier League!!??

They have the same viewing audience considering Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Barcelona are in it every year.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you...hypocrisy!!!

Am I campaigning to deny Korea the right to gaze at their only player in an EPL team, Romania the right to see Nemanja Vidic (who, despite hailing from Eastern-Europe, is actually Serbian), France the right to watch their second national team (Arsenal) or Malcom Glazer his daily dose of exposure from across the pond? No!

Am I campaigning to give true football fans access to their favourite football team if they can’t pay excruciating prices for tickets (I’m trying not to jump on the "there’s-a-recession" bandwagon)? YES!

Just a little footnote—England’s next international fixture (vs Ukraine) has not been scheduled on terrestrial/Freeview TV in ENGLAND!

Paying Sky Sports to watch your own country play football, if you’re part of a population of about 59,915,000 people who couldn’t get access to tickets, is absolutely despicable and only gives me more ammunition to use in this article.


PART TWO

Tottenham Hotspur have acquired planning permission from Haringey Council to build a brand-new, 60,000 seat stadium, along with modern public space in the surroundings. It will feature a brand new public amenity complex consisting of shops, seating areas and lovely flower patches.

Sounds brilliant doesn’t it? Well it is, but I don’t know about the future of the golden cockerel, and there’s another something niggling at the Spurs faithful. It’s the naming rights to the stadium.

I’d be all for a consortium to club together and donate an amount which collectively could total a good enough sum of money to buy the naming rights. Unfortunately, it’s like shooting the moon with a football and Didier Zokora taking the shot.

As a result, Mr. Levy has submitted to a proposal to use a sponsor for the new stadium’s name. 

Worst of all, we haven’t even been told what it is yet. I think he’s clever enough to know what reaction he would get if we knew. However, it’s annoying because it’ll probably be a name which doesn’t roll off the tongue nicely.

(Look for the video "Don’t Change The Name.")

There are many clubs which have previously done the same thing;

Arsenal (Emirates Stadium), Norwich City (Aviva Stadium), Wigan Athletic (formerly the JJB Stadium, now the DW Stadium), Hull City (KC Stadium), Bayern Munich/Munchen (Allianz Arena), VFB Stuttgart (Mercedes-Benz Arena), Stoke City (Britannia Stadium),
and Leicester City (Walkers Stadium).

Don’t even get me started on American sports like baseball. Their names are absolutely ridiculous.

One example is the AT&T park, home of the San Francisco Giants. It was a bigger-fish-eats-smaller-fish situation. Originally, it was the Pac[kard]Bell Park. PacBell was taken over by SBC and then AT&T bought SBC, eventually having the park named the AT&T Park.

For more gems like this one, visit here.

Why does England follow suit just because its best (only) friend USA sells itself out like this?

It gets even sillier, believe me. It doesn’t just stop at stadiums; some of the stands are even named after sponsors, rather than maintaining some heritage (and dignity) by dedicating them to legendary players (more deserving of recognition).

For example, the Walkers Stand in the Walkers Stadium (oh, the irony). I can only imagine what other teams’ stadium stands would be called.

Here you go Premiership; let me give you a few ideas to help you feel a little bit more pathetic and stupid. (Please note that there may be names of companies or brands which you may not have heard of, but they are all real):

Tottenham (with compromise) could have the ENICholson Stadium with stands like:
Gordon’s Dry Ginola Stand
British Gascoigne Stand
Playboy Mansion Stand (Wouldn’t mind that one actually)
Campbell’s Soup Stand

Arsenal:
CarlsBergkamp Stand
Emmanuel Petit Filous Stand
Coca-Kolo Toure Stand
Panasonic Vieira Stand

Manchester United:
GiggsandTours.com Stand
David Beck’s Lager Stand
Evralast Stand (Everlast is the actual name of the brand if you were wondering)
Renault Kangoo Van Der Sar Stand

Liverpool:
Chez Gerrard Stand
Yossi’s Bagels Stand
Skrtel Wax Stand (Yes I know it’s really Turtle Wax)
GigsandTorres.com Stand

Manchester City Stand:
Packard Bellamy Stand
Baskin-Robinhos Stand
Quiksylvinho Stand
Michael Johnson & Johnson Stand

By now you should get the gist of what I’m getting across here, which is the ridiculous lengths sponsors will go to with their affiliated club just to make minuscule improvements in sales and exposure. If anyone can give me one real example of a club sponsor that has had a significant improvement in sales from this kind of advertising, I’ll retract the first statement I made in this paragraph.

I leave you now with a philosophical statement from me. Try and apply it to football not being made available to the people who truly want it the most (it's easy).

If we’re born and taught to share something during childhood, why is it that when money and corporate supremacy is brought into our life’s equation, we revert back to snatching it away again?

Football is meant to be for everyone to enjoy, not to pay extreme prices for TV coverage of, not to miss the game at all, and not to make a few quick bucks. I suggest that corporations find some more unique ways to sell rather than drown the
non-profitable kind of interest in the game.

Not such a beautiful game anymore is it...

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