Salisbury JournalReturn delights 'romantic' Pardew (From Salisbury Journal)

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Return delights 'romantic' Pardew

Salisbury Journal: Alan Pardew is 'overjoyed' about the renaming of Sport Direct Arena as St James' Park Alan Pardew is 'overjoyed' about the renaming of Sport Direct Arena as St James' Park

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was celebrating after learning that he will be sending his team out at St James' Park once again.

Pardew admitted he and his players had been hurt by owner Mike Ashley's decision to rename the 52,000-capacity stadium as the Sport Direct Arena last year in a bid to showcase the naming rights, and he was delighted when wonga.com confirmed on Tuesday that they had bought them and decided to revert to the traditional name.

He told Sky Sports News: "I'm a romantic, so the stadium change last year hurt me and hurt our team. It's one of those business decision that you can't get your head around at times as a football person."

Pardew added: "I made a point of saying that the same sign should go up, not a new one, the same sign, 'St James' Park', and I'm absolutely overjoyed with that."

The news came after Newcastle's initial announcement that they had agreed a four-year deal with Wonga to become their lead commercial sponsor, an agreement which will see the Magpies wear the company's logo on their shirts from next season.

The agreement also includes an investment of £1.5million in the club's Academy and the Newcastle United Foundation Enterprise Scheme. But in a move which came as something of a surprise, they left it to their new sponsor to reveal that they had also bought the naming rights.

A spokesman for Wonga said: "We listened over the last three days and we saw what really matters to the fans. Football is an emotional sport and it is obviously really important to them. We listened to what they wanted and that is why we did it."

However, while most fans were pleased to see the end of another controversial period in the club's recent history, some were less than impressed with the identity of the new sponsor.

Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council said: "I'm appalled and sickened that they would sign a deal with a legal loan shark. We see the devastating consequences of people getting into financial difficulty and we spend a lot of money each year helping people who are in debt through companies like this.

"It's a sad indictment of the profit-at-any-price culture at Newcastle United. We are fighting hard to tackle legal and illegal loan sharking and having a company like this right across the city on every football shirt that's sold undermines all our work."

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