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The RBS Stadium?

Money and sport.

They make strange bed fellows. Indeed some funny things have happened when people start throwing money at sports stars and clubs in the name of sponsorship. Look at Epi Taione and Paddy Power in 2007. Look at Jimmy White becoming Jimmy Brown in a sponsorship deal. Naming rights are something that may become a well-debated issue soon.

It is common practice for American sports teams to name their stadia after big brands. In 1997 the NFL’s Washington Redskins moved into FedEx Field. In 2001 the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks moved into the American Airlines Center. It now looks to be catching in the UK. In England’s Premier League Arsenal moved into the Emirates in 2006. Man City renamed the City of Manchester Stadium the Etihad Stadium in July this year and a few days ago Newcastle United’s hierarchy decided to rename St. James’ Park the Sports Direct Arena.

This creates an interested question. Would this ever happen in Scottish rugby? So I asked the SRU if they would consider renaming Murrayfield…

“Scottish Rugby welcomes discussions on any potential commercial opportunity and naming rights would come into that category.  However, we are not actively pursuing naming rights at the moment,” they told me officially. This is not exactly a “NO!” and seems to suggest they would at least consider any offers.

 So before we all strap ourselves in, turn off our phones and stockpile snacks for a long weekend of European rugby I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for a heavily sponsored rebranding of Murrayfield? Could we ever forgive such an act?!

*AMENDMENT!*
Since posting this the SRU have reissued me with the assurance: “Murrayfield (i.e. the name of the stadium) is very much part of the fabric of Scottish Rugby and we are very proud of it.”

So we should be. We can still explore money making options, though, and ‘A.N. Sponsor @ Murrayfield’ is not, um…eh… too hideous?

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4 Responses

  1. To be fair I would have little problem with the rebranding of the stadium – presuming a good deal could be found. As a Union we are in the position where every penny is a prisoner so if a decent offer came in a do ‘t see how it could be turned down. If such a sale of naming rights took place I’d like to see a commitment that the money is ploughed into the structure of youth rugby to help safeguard the future of the game.

    Murrayfield would always be Murrayfield to the fans just as St James Park will still be that to the Geordies. An official rebranding won’t change what it’s called by the average punter. I’d wager that the average Irishman doesn’t call the Aviva the Aviva…

  2. As an American, the rbranding of stadia under commericail names has been something I’ve always been forced to live with. But, while I’m sure it’s a valued source of income for the teams who do so, arenas with deeply set names are often referred to by the old name by the locals, even long after the changeover. For me, I still go to hockey games at the Civic Center, even if it says XL Center on the side. I still go to concerts at the Meadows, even if they call it the Comcast Theatre on the tickets. If the money’s there, any team will probably take the deal, but I don’t think it really effects how the fans feel about the ground in the end.

  3. You’re both right, of course. It would be stupid to not consider a large ‘donation’. And if it did become, say, the Barr Irn-Bowl the fans would still call it Murrayfield. (Even a pragmatic RBS @ Murrayfield would be acceptable).

    Who would be likely to come in, though…?

  4. Pity Murray group wasn’t still the sponsor, then everyone is happy. They’d probably still call it Murray Murrayfield.

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