Bolton Wanderers have announced that the Reebok Stadium is to be renamed the Macron Stadium in a new sponsorship deal. The Bolton News' head of sport, Neil Bonnar, reflects on the move.
IT is always an emotive issue when football clubs change the name of their ground.
Something as integral to the identity of a football club as the name of its home being stripped and replaced with a new one is bound to hit home with fans.
The reason is simple. It’s business.
We have seen it at a multitude of other clubs in recent years.
Now it is the turn of Wanderers and it will be interesting to see what the response is from the fans.
Way back in time when teams played in plain coloured shirts, just shook hands when they scored and players earned an average wage, the name of the ground usually reflected the area of the town it was in.
Old Trafford, Anfield, Goodison Park, Maine Road, Burnden Park. If you didn’t know where the ground was, its name would give you a pretty good idea.
It gave grounds an identity, and from that came a tradition.
But times have changed. In those old days players were paid a living wage, not the exhorbitant salaries they are on now.
That means clubs have to find additional revenue streams to pay them, and one of those, unfortunately, is stadium naming rights.
I say unfortunately because it is always sad to see a part of a club’s identity change.
But we live in the real world and clubs need cash.
This deal will bring in an additional revenue stream for Wanderers, and for a club which is £163.8 million in debt it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise how important that is.
It is a shame to see the end of the Reebok, the only name the fans have ever known the ground by and a company that is steeped in Bolton history.
But that’s business.