Last week, numerous journalists around the country went into uproar as it was announced that my club, Leicester City’s stadium was being changed from the ‘Walkers Stadium’ to the ‘King Power Stadium’. “It’s selling the soul of football”, many claimed; as those cringe-worthy of words “Nothing is sacred in football anymore,” repeated like a broken record on Twitter timelines and opinion blogs up-and-down the country. But come on; are the journalists just very desperate for something to write about in the off-season, or is it really that big of a deal?
We all know that modern football is controlled by money nowadays. So with players demanding higher and higher wages, why should the clubs be made out as evil when they try to recoup some of this cash?
Mirror columnist Oliver Holt was one of the first out of the blocks claiming that Leicester’s owners had paved the way for the “desecration of the club’s history” and “the loss of the club’s dignity”; clearly dismissing any suggestion that had already happened 10 years ago by claiming that he could “live with the Walkers Stadium, even if it was named after a bag of crisps.”
So it’s okay to sponsor a brand new stadium; but if said sponsorship deal expires, you shouldn’t get a replacement? Very nice logic there…
But even so, The Foxes’ old home Filbert Street wasn’t the actual name of the stadium; from the early 1990’s the ground’s actual title was “The City Business Stadium”.
Although the era where stadiums are referred to as the street in which they are located is slowly disappearing, it doesn’t mean that fans will stop referring to them in that way. The fact is that Leicester supporters – along with supporters of other clubs with sponsored stadia – will just continue to call the newly-labelled stadium by a name already used. I, for one, will still refer to the King Power Stadium as “Filbert Way”; a name given to the road in honour of Leicester’s short relocation. This is in the same way as Newcastle supporters still call it “St James’ Park”, and Manchester City fans will continue to use “Eastlands”.
In fact, as much as these journalists seem to be banging on about how bad this decision was for football, I don’t think I’ve heard of a single Leicester fan who is bothered about the name change. Yes, there is a little disappointment that Walkers will not be a major sponsor for the club after 25-years; but if anything, it just confirms that Leicester City’s Thai owners are at the club for the long-run. And judging by the buzz going around the city of Leicester at the moment, it can only be a good thing.
Football has changed a lot over the past two decades, and people have to accept that if clubs want to compete at the highest level possible, some things are going to have to give way. We might all be following a game where money talks; but the true soul, identity and dignity of a football club lie with the supporters and players. And at the end of the day, whether your stadium is called the “B2net Stadium” or the “Rupert Murdoch Arena”, that should be the only thing that matters.