Renaming St James' Park would cause uproar says Newcastle legend Malcolm Macdonald

28 October 2009 12:30
Macdonald, 59, became a cult hero during the 1970s on Tyneside thanks to his goal-scoring exploits at St James' Park which earned him the nickname 'Supermac' and he is loathe to see the famous old ground that was opened in 1880 have its named changed.

That is now looming after Ashley took the club off the market, appointed Chris Hughton as manager and as well as pledging to plough £20 million into its coffers he announced he would 'maximise its commercial revenues' with sponsors being sought for St James' Park.

'If they thought they had got on the wrong side of the people of Tyneside then just wait and see what happens if they go through with their plans to re-name St James' Park because there will be an almighty uproar and outcry,' Macdonald told Telegraph Sport.

'It would upset people so much because it everyone's second home. It is one of the places where they feel most comfortable and let's face it no one would want their local council to come along and start fiddling about with their address.

'That is how people feel about it. It has been St James' Park forever and a day and it should remain that way.

'It's a place full of wonderful memories for everyone associated with the club and you can ride on those memories and go onwards and upwards. One or two things have gone through my head this morning about potential new names and I am absolutely horrified to think what it could be called.'

Macdonald, who played for England and Arsenal, scored a hat-trick on his Newcastle debut at St James' Park against Liverpool. He is a regular at the stadium as an expert analyst for a Tyneside radio station and he is far from impressed with the Ashley regime.

He continued: 'This latest move is purely and simply down to money plus it's down to the fact that for every bit of stick the crowd give him I reckon he thinks 'now how can I pay them back?

'I don't think Mike Ashley has the slightest interest in whether or not the fans are with him. It's sad because I have never known customers treated like this by a company before.

'I am left shaking my head simply because we seem to go from one extreme to the other but the problem is that extremes that they keep going to just aren't doing the club any good.'

Macdonald has also expressed doubt about the wisdom of Ashley's appointment of Chris Hughton as Newcastle manager on an 18-month deal.

'There have been very, very few examples of coaches successfully becoming managers,' Macdonald, who once managed Huddersfield and Fulham, said. 'Jose Mourinho stands out as exceptional to the general rule but you have to have someone very special to make the transition from coach to manager as prosper.

'Chris Hughton has been in the game a very long time as a player and then a coach and has never shown any managerial desire beforehand.

'Being a manager is about forceful negotiation. I understand his contract goes to the end of the season with the possibility of another year. Well that is rubbish negotiation for a start.

'Steve Bruce is on three years at Sunderland for three years, Gordon Strachan at Middlesbrough for four years and Chris Hughton has a season with the possibility of it rolling on for another 12 months. Chris has blown it the first time round.'

Neil Mitchell, interim chairman of the Newcastle United Supporters; Trust (NUST), added: 'It has come full circle now - Mr Ashley waits until after deadline day to release £20 millon to service the ghostship that is St James's Park and comes up with the wheeze to re-name the most famous landmark in the city.

"It demonstrates clearly that Mike Ashley has forgotten his customers, described the fans in disparaging terms and now wants to re-brand the stadium.

'The appointment of Chris Hughton clearly shows that Ashley will continue to call the wrong shots at the club. Hughton is maybe a capable coach but we still await a manager with a proven record. The appointment leaves many questions unanswered especially on the subject of transfers.'

Source: Telegraph