Newcastle's stadium to be renamed St James' Park

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NEWCASTLE, England (AP) -Newcastle's stadium will once again be called St. James' Park from the start of next season after the Premier League club signed a four-year deal with a new sponsor on Tuesday.

Supporters were left furious last November when Newcastle renamed its 119-year ground "Sports Direct Arena" - after the sports retail company belonging to owner Mike Ashley - in a bid to showcase the potential for a new stadium sponsor.

However, as part of an agreement with Wonga, the club's new shirt sponsor, the traditional title of the stadium will be restored.

Wonga, an online loan lender, will invest at least 1.5 million pounds ($2.4 million) in the club's academy and local enterprise scheme helping teenagers find employment. Fans will also have bigger say in club initiatives, Newcastle said in a statement.

Wonga has many critics, however, because it charges interest rates of more than 4,000 percent on its loans.

"Throughout our discussions, Wonga's desire to help us invest in our young playing talent, the local community and new fan initiatives really impressed us and stood them apart from other candidates," Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias said.

Virgin Money will remain as shirt sponsor of the team until the end of this season, when Wonga takes over.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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