Naming rights stir up a hornet’s nest

The name of Chesterfield FC’s new ground - the B2net Stadium - has been causing controversy.

Oliver Holt in the Daily Mirror accused Chesterfield FC of ‘selling its soul’ by allowing the new ground to be named after a data storage company, a viewpoint which angered many fans.

In last week’s Derbyshire Times, Aaron Downes countered this by stating that football was a business and clubs needed all the income they could get if they hoped to progress and prosper.

Now, members of the Spireites Jury give their verdict on the issue.

Grant Stothard has no problems with the new ground’s name but believes the club should have made it more relevant to its location.

He said: “There should have been an element that identifies who the stadium belongs to, or at least where it is.

‘’So my idea would be to name the stadium either, The Spireites B2net Stadium or the Chesterfield B2net Stadium.

“Mr Holt should realise that clubs in the lower leagues do not get a fair share of the money that is generated by football and therefore to keep clubs like ours alive we have to obtain funds from any legitimate source.

‘’However, that doesn’t mean that directors can sell the soul of the club just to raise cash. The club should always be aware that without support the club would die.’’

Richard Rutherford would like to sit with the Mirror journalist - a Stockport fan who compiled his report in the wake of County’s 4-1 defeat against Chesterfield - the next time he attends the B2net Stadium.

He said: “I read Oliver Holt’s article. He seemed to be having a go at Chesterfield. It isn’t as if we are the first club to sell our naming rights for the stadium. For example Huddersfield Town have sold theirs twice since their new stadium was built.

“The B2net Stadium may not trip off the tongue easily but I am sure we will get used to it. You can’t blame the club for maximising its revenue with the B2net deal. What would be the economic sense in accepting a lower amount of sponsorship from a more acceptable sounding name or turning down all monies to call the stadium by a local name? In an ideal world it would have been great to conduct a fans poll as to the naming of the new stadium, but unfortunately we now live in different economic times.

“What concerned me more about Oliver Holt’s article was his criticism of the new stadium, indicating it was built to a bog standard design like many others and that it lacked atmosphere.

“Having visited most of the other new stadia in recent years, I would strongly disagree with his views. In my opinion the stadium is superb with many excellent features and is a credit to the football club. The atmosphere at matches has been excellent, far better than during recent times at Saltergate. It’s difficult to believe that he actually did attend a game at the B2net as he said he did. I would certainly like to sit next to him if he attends another one in the future.’’

Lesley Brentnall has praise for the B2net company.

She said: “In my 25 years as a Chesterfield two things will forever be in my memory. I will never forget walking out of Saltergate on May 8 heartbroken that the place I had spent my entire childhood would never be visited again, I will also never forget the year we faced a genuine possibility that our beloved club would be no more.

“The latter makes the naming process even more irrelevant to the current climate that League Two clubs face.

“And from the moment I sat in my new season ticket seat I knew that our heritage and past would never be forgotten but this was what we needed as a club to compete with the very best.

“B2net is a fantastic local based company who have always supported the club where possible and this is just another further indication of that dedication, and as a fan I am most grateful.

“I don’t think there was any need for the board to include something from our old ground, as the memories we all have will continue long into the next generation of fans.

“We are lucky to have a chairman that will not push us to the edge of financial cripple for success and that we will build the foundations in the correct way and that to me is more important than what the ground is called.

“Oliver Holt is a Stockport County fan who are currently facing their own financial plight. I am sure if he ever had to make the decision to save the club or keep a name, the existence of the club would win every time.

“We haven’t sold our soul, we have done what we needed to do to ensure our survival and I would challenge anyone who didn’t do the same.’’

Jonathan Howes believes football fans have to face facts.

He said: “Any true supporter knows that using the naming rights of a stadium to generate a substantial source of income for their football club has to be recognised and accepted as part of that club’s ‘Master Plan’ for their essential survival, particularly in the lower leagues, no matter what the name of the football stadium is.

“True, historic roots are important and we are officially addressed as 1866 Sheffield Road, retaining the year of foundation.

“However, let’s face facts, what relevance did The Recreation Ground or Saltergate hold to anyone outside of the local area? In my opinion, very little.

“The old ground retained unforgettable history and at one time I could never imagine moving from there. However, Saltergate was tired, slightly unsafe in places and seemingly unattractive to the less die-hard fans, who we constantly need to attract, to achieve and maintain higher gate receipts.

“Enter the B2net - it could have been named The Ernie Moss Stadium, however who outside of Chesterfield would have known the relevance of that name? I suppose that being recognised worldwide, as The Spireites, then The Spireites Stadium would have been the obvious choice of name, but without the sponsorship money securing the naming rights.

So what does it matter? The ‘Master Plan’ is what matters for clubs like Chesterfield. Revenue from naming rights, sponsorship, increased gate receipts and corporate events will inevitably provide much-needed funds to inject into building the team, which should result in improved performances, progression up the league and hopefully promotion, all that true Spireite fans have ever strived for!’’