First, I have to apologise to the Newcastle fans for jinxing the club by complimenting club owner Mike Ashley's fine ownership at St James' Park last week.
Hold on. I stand corrected, I meant Sports Direct Arena.
For those of you who haven't heard, the iconic home of the Magpies has been renamed the Sports Direct Arena in the latest addition to his litany of faux pas.
Just as we thought things were getting better at the club.
Isolating fans, changing tradition, anyone?
Any football fan with half the common sense of Mario Balotelli will question Ashley's latest move.
Don't get me wrong - Ashley has done a fantastic job at the business end of Newcastle so far. Ever since he took over the club the 2008/09 season, Newcastle have always been profitable in the transfer market.
|2011/2012||£12,993,200||16|| £12,465,200 ||14||£12,993,200|
They have also reduced the wage bill yearly, letting high-upkeep players like Obafemi Martins, Andy Carroll, Michael Owen and Sol Campbell go while seeking out bargains in Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Cheik Tiote, Leon Best and Hatem Ben Arfa.
Business-wise, Newcastle have been excellent, especially for a side who were consistently occupying the lower half of the league table for the better part of the past decade.
However, it's the PR side of the Newcastle boardroom that needs work. Lots of it.
Ashley is watching Sir Alex Ferguson's 25th anniversary match. A bulb lights up above his head as he sees Old Trafford's North stand being unveiled as ‘Sir Alex Ferguson Stand', and he rubs his hands together in glee, thinking: "Renaming! Such a brilliant idea, I shall do that too!"
It won't be surprising if the truth weren't too far off the above scenario. That's how poor his public image is.
To make matters worse, Ashley chose one of the worst times to announce the stadium sponsorship. Newcastle are currently undefeated, but they have a tough run of games, facing Chelsea and both Manchester clubs coming out of the international break.
Should they do badly in these fixtures, the inevitable perception will be that Ashley's latest action disrupted the club's excellent momentum.
No guaranteed money
There's also no assurance that loads of money will be made from the renaming, if and when it happens.
As yet, Sports Direct is owned by Ashley himself. What he's doing now is only making known that the stadium sponsorship is up for grabs.
Newcastle director Derek Llambias said: "Naming the stadium the Sports Direct Arena helps up to showcase the opportunity to interested parties. We are now actively seeking a long-term sponsor wishing to acquire full naming rights for the stadium."
Unless Ashley is willing to pump in £10million a year to rename the stadium of the club he already owns (another face-to-palm, headline-worthy move), he isn't getting a single cent for renaming the stadium now.
It remains to be seen if any company would want to associate themselves with the club that has become synonymous with bad PR.
For one, the said company would be taking over 119 years of St James' Park legacy. It would be unprecedented as sponsors usually pay only when a club reconstructs or moves to a new stadium.
Will fans be happy to associate the brand name with the perceived tarnishing?
Even the city council refused to rename the roads leading up to the Sports Direct Arena. That's a glaring a hint that this is a huge PR botch-up.
Another point to note is that the cost to buy over the sponsorship is way overboard.
Llambias announced: "I would hope it would generate between £8million and 10million a year. That would give us another player."
As compared, Arsenal's shirt and stadium deal with Emirates is worth £100million over 15 years, which comes down to £6.6million a year.
Let's assume that they somehow find a fanatical sponsor who is willing to cough up the money to rename the stadium.
Even then, putting the stadium's naming rights up for sale doesn't make much sense.
It's made known recently by aggrieved Liverpool fans that the Magpies received a whopping £35million for a certain Andy Carroll - surely that money has gone somewhere!
Where did the money go?
Referring back to the table above, Newcastle have made a net profit of £44million in transfer fees over the past three seasons. The money definitely didn't go into new signings.
It could not have gone to cover poor gate sales either. Newcastle have had an average attendance of 46,871 per match this season, the fourth-highest in the league and narrowly behind Manchester City, who are third with 46,953 per match.
In the annual club financial statement released in March, Newcastle revealed they had cut the annual wage bill to £50million. With the offloading of Jose Enrique, Wayne Routledge, Sol Campbell, Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan to compensate the incoming of Davide Santon, Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Sylvian Marveaux and Gabriel Obertan, the wage bill remains about the same.
That makes the wage bill about 55% of the club's annual turnover, which is projected at £89million. This effectively rules out concerns for meeting the FIFA Financial Fairplay, which puts the ‘danger zone' for wages at 70% of the club's turnover.
The future, then?
As mentioned earlier, the club claims that the money will be made to fund another striker in January.
Newcastle's shirt sponsorship deal with Northern Rock runs out at the end of the season, and it would make better business sense to sell both the shirt and stadium rights together, as Arsenal have done with Emirates.
As such, the move does reek of certain greed and short-sightedness on Ashley's part.
The cost of everything, but the value of nothing
Fittingly, it was left to someone who left St James Park (that's what it was called back then) in the summer to provide a wise word.
In less than 140 characters, Barton probably summed the situation up best on Twitter.
"Ashley and his subordinates, know the cost of everything but the value of nothing..."