What are names for? We give things names so that we know what the bloody hell they are. Old Trafford Cricket Ground is going to be known as ‘Emirates Old Trafford’ and as long as we all shorten that to ‘Old Trafford’, there shouldn’t be any problems.
Sponsors make a right balls of cricket ground names. Take The Oval, for example. We think it’s the Kia Oval at the minute, although it’s been The Brit Insurance Oval and The Foster’s Oval in recent years as well. This sponsorship doesn’t work well for two reasons. Firstly, it seems to change every year, so no-one can remember what it’s called anyway. Secondly, there are plenty of grounds in the world called The Something Oval. What if Brit Insurance decide to sponsor the Kensington Oval in Barbados? We’d have people talking about a Test between England and the West Indies that took place at the Brit Insurance Oval and you’d have to check the year to know where it had taken place.
Emirates is a particularly bad sponsor because the name is already associated with Durham’s ground. We call it ‘Durham’s ground’ because it is the most confusingly named cricket arena in the world. Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground is a hideously clumsy name, but at least there’s a degree of clarity about it in isolation. However, this is somewhat undermined by the fact that different people refer to the ground by different names. Someone might just as easily call it ‘Durham’, ‘The Riverside’ or ‘Chester-Le-Street’. We’re still not entirely certain that these four names all refer to the same place.