Glentoran's price is right for Oval
Glentoran Commercial Director Stafford Raynolds has admitted that there had to be a lot of soul-searching before the club decided that their famous football ground's name will be sold off.
In this tight financial climate clubs have to have an open mind about how they can bring in much-needed money and as a result, the Glens have decided to sell the naming rights to the Oval — the stadium they have called home since 1892.
It has been common practice for football clubs across the UK and Europe to cash in on the name of their ground but this, in conjunction with local sports marketing company MX Sport and Talent, should it come to fruition, will be a first for Northern Ireland.
Lansdowne Road, recently refurbished and rebranded as the Aviva Stadium, is the highest profile example in the Republic, while in the League of Ireland, Drogheda United brought in a reported €130,000 over two years to rename United Park, Hunky Dorys Park, after the Irish crisp brand.
Drogs' new name in particular may be seen by some traditionalists as crass, and Reynolds agrees that the brand name has to be right for Glentoran.
“This place means an awful lot, I've been coming here a long time and I know from speaking to a lot of the old guys who are sadly no longer with us, how they would have reminded you about showing respect for the territory and the fact that it has been an important part of their lives,” said Reynolds.
“It's not about dumping the name, ‘The Oval', I would like to think we could keep that. It could be, to use just an example, the ‘Pepsi Oval' for instance.
“It's got to work for us as well as the brand and there are probably brands that can't be associated with it.
“I wouldn't want the word ‘blue' in it anywhere, if you know what I mean!
“We did talk about (the tradition). We are not going to sign up the first person who comes through the door, that's why we are using this outside organisation (MX Sport and Talent), who have been very helpful because they have the know-how.
“In any sort of commercial arrangement it has got to be good for both people.
“We used to say in business years ago, one plus one equals three — you get added value by bringing together two brands.”
Reynolds wouldn't be pushed on a figure that the Glens would hope to reap from the initiative but admitted that with cash hard to come by throughout sport, they would have to keep an open mind about any offer that came in.
“Obviously there is no precedence for this in Northern Ireland so it's hard to gauge what we can expect companies to come up with,” he added.
“We shall see what they say. We are where we are, as politicians tell us. Everyone knows the financial position that not just us, but every football club is in and so no one is in a position to turn money down.
“That's not to say we are going to just take whatever comes in. These things could take time but we can wait for the right offer.”