Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


SRU to sell Murrayfield naming rights

Murrayfield Stadium - © Scottish Rugby Blog
Murrayfield Stadium pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

Details have emerged of a £20 million deal between the SRU and BT for the naming rights to Murrayfield. This would clear the SRU’s debts with change to invest elsewhere.

Selling naming rights for a new stadium is common enough however changing the name of long standing historic grounds is a contentious issue. Scotland will be playing two matches at the Sports Direct Arena in Newcastle during the World Cup and yet everyone, including the IRB and BBC still refers to the ground as St James Park. However the SRU and BT appear to have paid attention to events in Newcastle and plan to retain “Murrayfield” somewhere within the title.

However we though we’d have a bit of fun and come up with our telephone inspired names to celebrate the welcome injection of cash into the Scottish game.

1. Bob Hoskins Arena– The recently deceased cockney actor starred in a number of adverts for BT with the catchphrase “it’s good to talk”. The adverts were supposed to encourage people to get in touch with their loved ones and long lost pals but somehow with an underlying threat of a kneecapping throughout. The internet does not record whether Hoskins was a fan of Scottish rugby or whether he liked rugby at all but surely this would be a lasting, if confusing, tribute to a great actor.

2. The Dromedery Dome – BT once advertised their services with a man camel singing “Are You Lonesome Tonight” down the phone to a lady camel. Inexplicable.

3. The Illuminati Pyramid – The internet is a strange place. Apparently the newer BT adverts prove that the company are run by a race of space lizzards. Who knew?

4. Dr Who Stadium – He lives in a phone box. He’s a Time Lord. He once advertised directory enquiry services in New Zealand.

5. JR Hartley Thunderdome – I think we can all get behind this. Younger readers should be aware that Yellow Pages was the paper version of Google and was issued to every household in the days before the internet.

Can anyone come up with any better suggestions? Let us know in the comments below…

Editor’s update: 28/5/14: It was announced today that the winning choice is BT Murrayfield Stadium, which we think is a pretty good compromise.

17 Responses

  1. For £20m they can call it whatever the f*** they like! This would be a fantastic move and I’d love to seeing the BTL crackpots on the Scotsman try to argue how commercially incompetent the SRU are after such a coup.

    £20m should free up money to invest in schools rugby and *whisper it* a third pro-team in Aberdeen backed with Aberdeen Asset Management sponsorship.

    Let’s hope they can follow this through.

    1. Hmm crackpots seem to have stayed away from the Scotsman article so far. A few items emerging on the shopping list for Scottish rugby:

      *Third pro-team
      *Additional investment in Edinburgh and Glasgow
      *Investment in youth rugby and facilities

      Spending this windfall wisely is going to be an even bigger test for the SRU than acquiring it. I hope they recognise that the money needs to go into the infrastructure of Scottish rugby.

      In my opinion the varying experiences of Glasgow and Edinburgh is showing that application is more important than investment in building a successful club. I really hope this cash isn’t used to pump prime the pro-teams. Glasgow are doing well enough already and there is no evidence that Edinburgh could spend it well enough to see any substantial return. The last windfall from Edinburgh’s semi-final run in the HC was squandered.

      The best way to use any windfall is to invest it in supporting grassroots youth rugby and strengthening their root to the top. That certainly means money for development officers, facilities for schools and clubs, developing the regional academies.

      It might also mean a third pro-team to use as a development tool so that more of our young players have somewhere to play. We already stockpile players in certain positions who sit on the bench or only take part in training sessions and club rugby. Whether a financial model could be put together that meant a third pro-team was sustainable is another matter entirely. The last thing Scottish rugby needs is to be plunged back into debt and spending money on servicing it instead of on rugby.

  2. No I don’t think they can call it what they want for £20million! Get a grip mate! I can see the point of getting cash fine but this stadium naming farce is ridiculous! I’ll build a stadium and see if a well known baby clothes chain or s*x shop wants to call it after their shop! A third pro team will not work either. Scotland doesn’t have the cash to attract top players to play for the 2 teams we already have. The borders folded and so would Aberdeen. If BT want the stadium then call it BT Murrayfield and then we can all call it Murrayfield and leave out the stupid sponsor name!

    1. It’s sponsorship GI, same as sponsorship of shirts and anything else – £20m can’t be sniffed at.

      As far as the third pro team in Aberdeen, you can’t really compare it to the Borders. For a start, there’s none of the internal politics of the Borders clubs to overcome, and secondly, the population of the Borders region is just over 100,000 which was never enough to sustain a full-time professional sports team – Grampian itself is over 5 times that and if you add in the few that are likely to be attracted from Dundee and Inverness, then it’s a much more commercially viable option than the Borders ever was.

    2. As we said in the article they are apparently keeping the Murrayfield name. We weren’t suggesting these names be taken seriously or BT call it what they want (unless they want to call it the Dr Who Stadium or JR Hartley Thunderdome in which case I say go for it)

  3. If it clears the debt then great, as any name will never replace the original, the aviva is still landsdowne road etc etc.
    As for a 3rd pro team in aberdeen, provided games were a saturday/sunday mid dayish, you would get forlk from all over coming to town, given the transport links available, it would be entirely possible to watch a lunchtime ko and then jump on the boat to shetland for example having travelled down on the fri night/sat morning.

  4. Hopefully this goes through and the money is spent wisely. Would another pro team be allowed straight into the rabo league- or would there need to be another club to join to keep numbers even?

    1. I imagine they could just operate a “bye” system like we see in Super Rugby. I can’t imagine any of the other Pro 12 countries wanting to start up another team.

    2. Treviso are leaving at the end of this season, an Aberdeen team joining would mean the league would still consist of 12 teams

  5. Really hoping this can turn into a third pro team in Aberdeen. I don’t see any reason why the league couldn’t be operated with 13 teams playing 24 regular games, the French league has 26 regular games and still works with internationals and European fixtures.

    On a related note I think a key matrix for evaluating progress, or otherwise, in the pro game should be minutes played by Scottish players in pro12, Aviva premiership, English championship and top14. Unfortunately I don’t think this would be too hard to work out as the players abroad are relatively few. Improving the base for the Scottish team is key to the future.

    I hope the SRU support players who are not renewed at Glasgow or Edinburgh in finding new clubs as far as possible. If this is not done currently employing agents to place sq players in foreign clubs could be a good use of money in the absence of a third pro team.

  6. Just say ‘No’ to a third team – after paying off the debt, there’s no where near enough left to commit to funding a third team for a number of years, which should be the minimum requirement. Instead, let’s earmark this for firstly sorting out the youth structures, and secondly pumping some money into the grassroots game, coaching and refereeing at all levels

  7. No problem with selling the name. Everyone will still call it Murrayfield anyway.

    By all means clear the debt and spend some money however the true test will be not getting carried away running up new debt.

  8. Why not use the money to revive the district championship as a semi pro home and away comp at the end of the club season. Only Scottish eligible players and on a district of origin basis

    This way you have the best club players getting the opportunity to play at a higher level and to showcase themselves to the pro teams while also a step up in level for club coaches to gain experience

    A look at South Africa (Currie Cup) and NZ (ITM Cup)show this is a critical path for player and national development

  9. BT just got the naming rights for the Cardiff Arms Park and decided to call it the “BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park” Gives you an idea of what we will get if they buy the Murrayfield naming rights…

  10. It should also be pointed out it is a massive sponsorship deal but over 4 years. So I imagine that would equate to 4 equal chunks of £5m which would mean the debt won’t be paid off quite yet nor will they have the spare cash for a third pro team (which I think cost about that each anyway per year) but will make a considerable difference and in an ideal world the SRU would be debt free come the end of this period.

    1. Is the £20m just for the naming rights or for the whole package of naming rights, sponsorship of 7s and sponsorship of 4 academies?

      How much is the annual debt repayment? Considering last year the SRU announced a surplus of £900,000 on a turnover of £39.8m an additional £5m per year is absolutely staggering. Indeed, if all of the additional funds went to paying off the debt they would be debt free in just over two years with two years later of milk and honey.

      Let’s hope they have a plan in mind to pay the debt off and use the rest to create a proper youth development structure to rival other tier one and two nations.

    2. The number crunchers will tell you being debt free is not the ideal – the interest on the debt is tax deductible. Therefore, a balance of debt reduction, financial investment to generate recurring revenue eg property and spending on rugby is the ideal blend to secure the future financial and rugby base for Scottish rugby

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion