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Friday, Nov. 11, 2011

Newcastle stadium gets new name


Newcastle, England — Just when Newcastle fans and owner Mike Ashley seemed to have reached a truce, the Premier League club prompted fury among supporters Thursday by announcing it had renamed its 119-year-old stadium with immediate effect.

Ashley's uneasy relationship with the Magpies fans settled over the past three months as manager Alan Pardew guided Newcastle to third place in the Premier League as one of just two unbeaten sides.

But the renaming of St. James' Park to the Sports Direct Arena — after owner Mike Ashley's sports retail company — has provoked the sort of indignation and anger fans already exhibited several times in Ashley's four-year tenure.

"Just as Alan Pardew and his players are doing so well, with a new spirit emerging between the club and the supporters, Ashley takes aim with a shotgun and shoots Newcastle United in the foot — again," said an editorial in Newcastle fan magazine True Faith. "This will be a tragedy if the inevitable outpouring of anger goes anywhere to detracting from the impressive work of the manager and the players.

"But if it does, the responsibility will rest entirely with Mike Ashley who once again appears not to have had his appetite for destruction sated."

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