Stewart Donald reveals Stadium of Light naming rights latest and confirms no plans to change club badge

Sunderland owner Stewart Donald.
Sunderland owner Stewart Donald.
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Stewart Donald has confirmed Sunderland fan groups will be consulted before the Stadium of Light naming rights are sold.

And the owner has also confirmed there are no plans to change the club badge.

Speaking to the Roker Rapport podcast, Donald spoke about a range of Sunderland AFC topics including the ongoing talks to rename the stadium.

Executive director Charlie Methven told the Echo earlier this week that the club was in late stage negotiations with a national company regarding a multi-year naming rights deal.

Methven and Donald have both denied national reports that talks were being held with a betting company, the identity of the company they are speaking with is yet to be revealed.

Speaking about the naming rights, Donald told the Roker Rapport podcast: “I think the stadium naming is an opportunity.

“We’ve been in conversations with people on that and I’m like a football fan in that, as a board we have a responsibility and if the revenue is good, then my gut instinct is that we should do it but again there are certain brands you wouldn’t want attached.

“The other thing with it is, you want it to try and sound right. You don’t want to sell your soul for the wrong amount of money and have a name that for a football fan is embarrassing.

“So I think we need the right type of brands and opportunity, so that the value is right.”

Listen to the full interview here:

Donald added: “If you keep Stadium of Light in the name, you don’t want a 15 word stadium, so it’s just got to have balance.

“The only thing I have said is ‘that carry on with the negotiations guys and when it comes to the critical stage, check with the fan groups and just get the feedback, then we’ll see what the groundswell of opinion is.

“If 95% of fans say ‘not a chance, we don’t want it, we’re selling our soul’ and the money’s not fantastic, then you go ‘no, I won’t do it’. The other end of the spectrum is if that nobody really minds and the money is good, then let’s do it.

“It’s probably going to be somewhere between the two.

“I think it’s an asset that we should explore and we’ve got to try and get maximum value from it and I think we’ve also got to bear in mind the groundswell of opinion of the fans and take into account what they may or may not want the stadium called.

“We’re talking about it but we wouldn’t sign a contract without talking to the fan base.”

Donald has also confirmed there are no plans to change the badge, adding: “I think we’ll keep the badge.

“Changing the badge is quite expensive and we could sign a striker for that. I might be wrong here but I don’t think there is a huge swell to change the badge.

“If we change the badge it’s going to upset half the fans probably and not the others, so why spend a few hundred thousand pounds changing it, so I don’t think we’ll change the badge.”

Listen to the full interview here:

Sunderland are in the final year of their kit deal with Adidas and the club is talking to ‘half a dozen’ kit suppliers who have expressed an interest.

Adidas also have the right to match the best offer and Donald expects a decision to be made in the coming weeks.

The design of the new kit could also be put to fans to vote on.

Donald added: “I don’t see why we can’t throw out four or five different kit designs and say ‘choose one guys’ and it’s quite a nice thing to do and it’s quite interactive.

“Again, a bit like the seats, it doesn’t cost you anything to involve the fans, so you should. It’s their team, they buy the shirts! So they should have more input on it than anybody else.

“So I think what will happen is that we’ll negotiate, we’ll then say that this is the kit provider and what the length of the deal is and then I would hope that every year we can let the fans choose what the kit should be from a selection.”