GEORDIE rock star Sting has hit out at Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s decision to sell off the naming rights for St James’ Park.
In a television interview broadcast this morning, the Wallsend-born singer also reveals his despair at production of Newcastle Brown Ale being switched from Tyneside to Yorkshire.
The former Police singer returned to the region recently to perform a world premiere of his forthcoming album If On A Winter’s Night at Durham Cathedral.
The visit also saw him starting the Great North Run alongside Durham and England cricketer Steve Harmison.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias caused outrage last week when they revealed the naming rights for the stadium were up for grabs as they attempt to bring new revenue into the club.
They did little to abate that fury when they confirmed earlier this week that the 52,000-capacity venue will now be known as the sportsdirect.com@St James’ Park Stadium as the search for a long-term sponsor gets under way.
Thousands of fans have hit out at the move, and when asked about it in the interview due to be broadcast on Sky TV this morning, Sting said: “No, I don’t like it. I’m a traditionalist, you know – it’s St James’ Park. Always has been, always should be.
“You know, Newcastle Brown Ale has moved to Yorkshire – things are changing.”
Sting has recently released the album If On A Winter’s Night, which features 15 songs all on a winter theme. He came to Durham in September to record a DVD of the album’s songs with a 40-piece band that included Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell.
He said: “I’d not been there for a long time and to be honest I’d forgotten how incredibly beautiful it is. I mean the entire city of Durham is amazing really and now they’ve got rid of the cars you can really take it all in.
“With the cathedral it’s just incredible to look at the architecture but also when you think how old it is, it’s amazing.
“It’s like these rich lords were saying to the population with this wondrous place they’d created: ‘We don’t just own you in this world, we’ve got you in the next life too’.
“But Durham is the place, really. I mean until the Industrial Revolution took hold it was the place in the North East, you forget that Newcastle only came into its own then.
“I find I’m as impressed with the Northumberland coastline as well. I mean that walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh is just amazing.”
Speaking about the recently re-union of his band The Police – which saw them touring to packed stadiums around the world – Sting said: “It was the right time. It was a great exercise in nostalgia, a very successful one – but again, would you want to keep doing that? No, that would be boring.”