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31Aug/1216

The Ageas Bowl? The Kia Oval? The SWALEC? Fuck off

The Rose Bowl. Sofia Gardens. Chester-Le-Street. Headingley. The Oval. What do they have in common? You may not know it but they're all cricket grounds. But they all share something else in common - they all have bastardised corporate sponsor names that stick in my throat like a piece of semi-masticated beef gristle.

They are now as follows: The Ageas Bowl. The SWALEC Stadium. Emirates Durham ICG. Headingley Carnegie. The Kia Oval. Names as hollow as the regard that a Korean budget car manufacturer actually has for cricket.

Like most sports, cricket is going the way of football in following the scent of hard cash, which is why we have to suffer the horror of Sky's coverage (Bob Willis, Ian Botham, Ian Ward, Nick KNight, Charles Colville).

No-one in their right mind should ever utter these names - and it was refreshing to hear a couple of England cricketers ignore Mike Atherton's repeated trumping of 'the Ageas Bowl'and doggedly refer to it as the Rose Bowl.

Ah, Rose Bowl. A pretty name. It was named after Hampshire's crest and the curve of the pitch. Nice eh? Not nice enough for Belgium-Dutch multinational insurance company Ageas. If they were stump up some cash (naming rights are sold for surprisingly small amounts of money - Ageas are getting their name read out regularly by chumps like Athers on Sky; name written in national newspapers and plenty of local publicity for a measly £2m over six years) then they were damn well going to transform the club into a piece of corporate art.

Sophia Gardens was named after Sophia Rawdon-Hastings, the wife of a posh Welsh Georgian nob. So, a nice little regional, historical reference. Still, The SWALEC Stadium has a ring to it, eh?

The Oval. So named for its unusual shape - a name going back over 150 years. And, in recent years variously The Fosters Oval, AMP Oval, Brit Insurance Oval. And now named after Kia, who make cheap and utterly tedious little econoboxes. Big connection with all that South London, gas-holder, West-Indian cricket chic.

Headingley Carnegie, meanwhile, breathlessly offers sponsorship of its media centre, which is "now officially Yorkshire’s most globally viewed building" and boasts the following sponsorship opportunities on its website:

Perimeter branding
Stand Naming rights
Logo inclusion on tickets and literature
"Money can't buy" access to players
Presence on yorkshireccc.com with 90,000 Monthly Unique Visitors
Inclusion in online newsletter
Product awareness stand/sampling opportunities at match days
Branding on the replay screen at every Yorkshire CCC fixture at Headingley Carnegie
Access to tickets
Use of facilities on non match days
Hospitality

Before we move on, just ponder the irony of offering corporate sponsors 'money-can't-buy' access to players. That's a special kind of bullshit, right there.

Headingley Carnegie isn't as clear cut as the others, mind. As the ground is owned by the sports-orientated Carnegie University it gets its name on the bill. Fair enough. But renaming stands? Yeah, to hell with Verity, Wardle, Sutcliffe, Hutton, Trueman, Boycott, Close and Gough.

Make way for Stagecoach, Barclays, Sky Sports, Audi, Stella Artois and Vodaphone. Jimmy Anderson is now running in from the BP End at the Enron Bowl.

Inevitable? Maybe. Money for old rope? Certainly. But there's something enormously dispiriting about it all. If cricket can't hold out then sport's doomed. Next we can probably turn to other cash-strapped edifices. The Tango Westminster Abbey. Hadrian's Wall by G4S. The McDonalds New Forest.

It's enough to make me weep into my Adidas handkerchief and Nestle Shreddies.

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  • Tenpasenta vicar

    The quicker these companies can’t write off their advertising costs against tax the quicker this bollocks may stop.

  • Tenpasenta vicar

    The quicker these companies can’t write off their advertising costs against tax the quicker this bollocks may stop.

  • Frazerio

    Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth games in 2014. The ‘new home of Scottish indoor sport’ that it will leave behind has just announced a sponsorship deal with the same company that sponsor Arsenal’s stadium.

    Fast forward to the sports reports in 2014: ‘thanks for that Bill at the Emirates FC v Emirates FC game at the Emirates Stadium, in a minute we’ll be hearing all the latest from the Emirates Games at the Emirates in Glasgow before that we’re off to the Emirates to hear the latest from the test match. After the Emirates sport news we’ll be hearing from Felicity at the Emirates Sea telling us how the Emirates Regatta was won, now I hand you over to Emirates Simpson for the news’.

  • Frazerio

    Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth games in 2014. The ‘new home of Scottish indoor sport’ that it will leave behind has just announced a sponsorship deal with the same company that sponsor Arsenal’s stadium.

    Fast forward to the sports reports in 2014: ‘thanks for that Bill at the Emirates FC v Emirates FC game at the Emirates Stadium, in a minute we’ll be hearing all the latest from the Emirates Games at the Emirates in Glasgow before that we’re off to the Emirates to hear the latest from the test match. After the Emirates sport news we’ll be hearing from Felicity at the Emirates Sea telling us how the Emirates Regatta was won, now I hand you over to Emirates Simpson for the news’.

  • David

    I don’t mind the corporate names as
    they are rather unobtrusive.
    What I object to are the relentlessly annoying
    ad break sponsors. It’s put me off buying a
    Jaguar forever (and they even tell you not to drive one).

  • David

    I don’t mind the corporate names as
    they are rather unobtrusive.
    What I object to are the relentlessly annoying
    ad break sponsors. It’s put me off buying a
    Jaguar forever (and they even tell you not to drive one).

  • bern

    About time time someone mentioned corporate renaming. Bile inducing. But hey, why love cricket, when you can love SKY betting. That’s what they believe in. As for the other bloke, cricket would be even better if you stayed away from sport altogether. And your fucking trumpet.

  • bern

    About time time someone mentioned corporate renaming. Bile inducing. But hey, why love cricket, when you can love SKY betting. That’s what they believe in. As for the other bloke, cricket would be even better if you stayed away from sport altogether. And your fucking trumpet.

  • cricketisfortossers

    If only people gave two shits about cricket, then it would be very tragic.

  • cricketisfortossers

    If only people gave two shits about cricket, then it would be very tragic.

  • WG’s Beard

    Couldn’t put it better myself. The spirit of cricket and all that is good about it in the face of the relentless branding and cheapening of everything will end up in the Carphone Warehouse coffin.

  • WG’s Beard

    Couldn’t put it better myself. The spirit of cricket and all that is good about it in the face of the relentless branding and cheapening of everything will end up in the Carphone Warehouse coffin.

  • The Professor

    It’s f*cking horrible, I couldn’t agree more. This sort of branding is one of the most egregious in my eyes, as even broadcasters, commentators and journalists are in on the act too. On thursday night in a Uefa Cup match at Newcastle, the commentator on itv referred to St. James’ Park as “The Sports Direct.com Arena.” Words fail me.

  • The Professor

    It’s f*cking horrible, I couldn’t agree more. This sort of branding is one of the most egregious in my eyes, as even broadcasters, commentators and journalists are in on the act too. On thursday night in a Uefa Cup match at Newcastle, the commentator on itv referred to St. James’ Park as “The Sports Direct.com Arena.” Words fail me.

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