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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 18 April, 2014

What’s in a name? Newcastle fan charged over Stadium graffiti

Michael Atkinson faces a court date after painting ‘St James’ on a wall of the renamed Sports Direct Arena.

Image: Steve Drew/EMPICS Sport

A SHOW OF defiance towards owner Mike Ashley has landed one ardent Newcastle United supporter with a court date.

Michael Atkinson, 29, of Newbiggin Hall in Newcastle, was caught painting the words ‘St James’ on a wall of the club’s stadium, just hours after the old ‘St. James’ Park’ sign had been removed from the ground.

He has since been charged with causing criminal damage and will appear before Newcastle Magistrates’ Court on March 7th.

“I had just done the ‘St James’ and was just about to do the apostrophe when I saw the blue lights flashing so obviously I had to quit,” Mr. Atkinson told the BBC.

“The police were OK when they arrested me but obviously they cannot condone it. The ground has always been St James’ Park and should always be St James’.”

Newcastle first announced their intention to rename the ground last November, insisting that the ‘Sports Direct Arena’ was a temporary measure that could generate up to £10 million a year for a club.

However, the removal of the St. James’ Park sign on Thursday sparked outrage from many of the club’s supporters, many of whom say they will continue to use its original title. Mr. Atkinson’s graffiti has since been removed from the wall.

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