West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady is set to lead a new bid to secure naming rights for the London Stadium, a move which will concern fans who have paid attention to such deals elsewhere.
Brady is a divisive figure among West Ham fans.
And now she has taken on a leading role in the search to find a naming rights partner for the London Stadium (Evening Standard).
It comes as the stadium’s landlords, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), step up their bid to secure a naming rights deal for next season (2020/21).
The LLDC appointed Jo Adams as their new chief commercial officer last month with the primary task of finding a sponsor the London Stadium.
Previous deals hit the buffers
Previous deals with Vodafone and Indian conglomerate Mahindra hit the buffers. Under the latter West Ham’s home ground was set to be named The Mahindra Stadium (Telegraph).
And it is that crucial element of the naming rights agreement that will have Hammers supporters concerned.
West Ham fans were hardly overly enamoured with the generic name The London Stadium when they moved to Stratford.
But they may be about to appreciate that a whole lot more as Brady – who once described West Ham supporters as ‘customers’ and claimed the club ‘lacked culture’ – goes in search of the big bucks for the privilege.
It is fair to say Brady is not the most popular person among West Ham fans.
Some appreciate the sterling job she has done in turning around the club’s finances following the doomed Icelandic ownership.
Divisive Brady must tread carefully over stadium naming rights
But just as many dislike the Apprentice TV star. And for those fans her rap sheet is lengthy.
From a plethora of broken promises over the move to Stratford – which would take too long to list – to those ill-judged comments about the club not having any ‘culture’ (Evening Standard).
Her column in The Sun where she has often in the past talked about intimate West Ham business and the goings-on at rival clubs is also a major bone of contention for supporters.
And now Brady is in charge of the process that will see the name of the stadium change.
Nick Moore of FourFourTwo once summed it up best with a brilliant piece on the scourge of silly stadium names born from commercial deals.
There are elements of the rampant commercialisation of football that most fans grudgingly accept: gruelling pre-season tours to appease Asian-based Official Noodle Partners; dog silhouettes waddling across electronic ad billboards, distracting you from the action; and – on the whole – stadium naming rights. The Emirates, Etihad and so forth all trip off the tongue without too much bitterness, sound vaguely “real”, and are at least funded by firms with a veneer of quality; no doubt when White Hart Lane or Stamford Bridge are replaced by “the Rolex” or “the Qatar”, it’ll seem odd, but eventually blow over. Occasionally, though, a group of men in suits hand over a sum of money to another, more desperate group of men in suits – and the result belittles a once-proud sporting venue.
Stadium names that will worry Hammers fans
And that will be the major concern for Hammers fans.
Moore’s words will strike a chord with fans everywhere. And his list of stupid stadium name changes will send a shudder down the spine – and it doesn’t even include Mike Ashley’s PR disaster of renaming St James’ Park The Sports Direct Arena.
10 weird stadium names
- TONY MACARONI ARENA, LIVINGSTON
- WANKDORF, BERN
- KITKAT CRESCENT, YORK
- THE DRIPPING PAN, LEWES
- ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER STADIUM, GRAZ
- MOLINEUX, WOLVERHAMPTON
- DICK’S SPORTING GOODS PARK, COLORADO
- MIDDELFART STADIUM, DENMARK
- CHEAPER INSURANCE DIRECT STADIUM, DUMBARTON
- HUNKY DORYS PARK, DROGHEDA UNITED
Suddenly The London Stadium doesn’t seem so bad after all. Don’t let us down Karren.