With the fresh news that Fernando Torres might leave Anfield in the summer transfer window, it is no surprise that Liverpool Football Club are now looking for a sponsor for their proposed new stadium at Stanley Park. It is no secret that the big clubs are cash-strapped heading into 2010, and Liverpool will look to capitalize on their record breaking home support by fishing around the market for a top buyer.
Naming rights for stadiums has been a controversial topic in England and the rest of Europe, culminating with the demolition of Arsenal's beloved ground, Highbury, in May 2006. Fly Emirates splashed out a record 100 million pounds over 15 years for the naming rights at Arsenal's new stadium, now simply dubbed The Emirates, and Liverpool FC are looking to take advantage of the relatively new opportunity.
Ian Ayre, a spokesman for Liverpool, revealed earlier this week that sponsoring the naming rights at Stanley Park is a very realistic possibility. "Naming rights is now an accepted part of building any new footballing venue in the world. And as one of only a few global football brands, it would be crazy of us not to tap into that opportunity."
With that said, there has been strong opposition to proposed stadium namings in the past. Manchester United was believed to have considered renaming Old Trafford, their home since 1910, but instead opted to expand the stadium to a record seating 76,000 seats. With sell out crowds a near regular occurrence at the Theatre of Dreams, the decision wasn't so tough financially compared to other smaller clubs. Bolton Wanderers, currently sitting in relegation zone in the Premier League, plays its home games at Reebok Stadium, a 25,000 modern all-seater built in '97.
Liverpool will no doubt get more than the 25 million pounds Reebok paid Bolton for naming rights, but in a country where history and elegance is everything, Scousers world wide will feel let down by their club if their new stadium is named Gillette Stadium.