Stadium rights on ice as Virgin signs up Toon shirt deal

NEWCASTLE could be forced to shelve plans to sell their stadium naming rights after agreeing a shirt sponsorship deal with Virgin Money.

The two-and-a-half-year contract is understood to be worth around the same as their previous £2.5m per season deal with Northern Rock. Virgin Money, which officially completed its buyout of Northern Rock earlier this week, thrashed out terms in time to appear on Newcastle’s shirts in last night’s clash with Manchester United.

But the deal casts severe doubt on the club’s search for a stadium naming rights partner. Newcastle announced in November they were seeking to sell both shirt sponsorship and stadium naming rights in a package to one company for up to £10m a year. Virgin Money passed on the stadium, so the club are likely to find it far trickier to sell naming rights and may have to put plans on ice – or slash the price.

“It will make it more difficult. Arsenal, Manchester City and Bolton’s stadium naming rights are packaged together [with shirt deals] and that makes it easier,” Dominic Curran, deputy managing director of sponsorship consultancy Synergy, told City A.M. last night. “The stadium naming rights on their own aren’t going to be as valuable as selling them together.”