Glentoran Community Trust - the largest official grouping of Glentoran fans - have come out in support of the club’s decision to offer for sale the naming rights to their famous old Oval stadium.
The Glens announced on Tuesday night that they have entered into a partnership with local marketing company MX Sport and Talent with a view towards selling off the name of the ground they moved into nearly 120 years ago.
The east Belfast venue is an arena surrounded by history and nostalgia pours from every corner. Traditionalists may see this initiative as tantamount to sacrilege, but clubs across the globe — bigger institutions than Glentoran — have gone down this route, with Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium a prime example.
In these financially difficult times, clubs are having to make novel approaches to finding cash, just to keep running and the Glens are hoping to become the first in Northern Ireland to rebrand their home.
Fans, for the most part, have given their approval and the GCT have praised the board of directors for addressing the monetary concerns that are currently dogging Glentoran to the point where they were forced to place a number of their higher earning players on the transfer list in the summer.
“I think most of us are acutely aware of the financial difficulties which the club has to face on an almost daily basis,” said a Glentoran Community Trust spokesperson.
“If the board of directors feel that there is merit in exploring this particular avenue to generate much needed funds, then we are in no real position to criticise a pro-active approach to managing the debt.
“To all of us though, the supporters who follow the club from cradle to grave it will always be known as The Oval.”
And the GCT went on to say that the Oval’s location means they should have no problem in finding a sponsor.
“The stadium sits on the hard shoulder of one of the busiest roads in Northern Ireland in the rush hour, at the entrance to the emerging The Titanic Quarter, on the flight path of the George Best City airport and overlooks the main Belfast to Bangor railway line.
“There must be some merit in using all these factors to maximise the income from any prospective bids for the rights.”