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SRU have grounds for naming their price

Scottish rugby's fortunes could be transformed should they get full value for the naming rights for Murrayfield, according to the man who sold one of the most famous names in British sport at the original Old Trafford.

Daniel Gidney, chief executive at Lancashire County Cricket Club, whose home substantially pre-dates that of Manchester United, completed a deal to allow Emirates Airlines to append their name to that of the iconic ground just weeks after he was appointed last year.

He believes that the 10-year deal, the largest for a cricket stadium, was the key decision in ensuring the long-term financial health of a club that has had to react drastically to the surprise decision to axe it from the list of venues for the 2009 Ashes Series.

"Emirates became our venue brand," he explained. "We had Lancashire County Cricket Club and the red rose from a cricket perspective, but we really needed to launch ourselves nationally and internationally as a venue brand. Emirates Old Trafford was perfect for that."

Gidney admitted there had been some resistance from traditionalists, but in what could be seen as a parallel with the way Scottish rugby is viewed, that had not been too difficult to overcome given the impact of that loss of prestige caused by the eight-year gap between Ashes Tests.

"We had a few members who were unsure, I think that's a good way of putting it. However, we articulated that we had lost an Ashes, you want us to be able to continue to invest in the ground, in the community and in cricket , so we need to generate other revenue streams," said Gidney, who was appointed in January 2013, the month before the renaming of the ground was announced.

He warned, however, that it had been vital to retain the original name.

"The key thing is Old Trafford remains a part of it," he said. "The ground has been here for 150 years. We couldn't mess with that. That's real heritage. A lot of organisations that are only 20 or 30 years old would give their right arms for that sort of heritage.
"The sponsors want that, too. You talk about special places and magic moments, Shane Warne's ball of the century was here; Ian Botham scored an amazing rapid century in his Ashes in 1981 here; Jim Laker took a world record which still stands and will probably never be beaten with 19 wickets in a Test here; Sachin Tendulkar, probably the greatest batsman to play the game, scored his maiden Test hundred here; Kevin Pietersen, a much-loved and loathed cricketer, scored his last Test hundred here. There's such history here that it had to be Emirates Old Trafford."
There had, he added, been no difficulty in persuading the sponsors of the value of doing so.
"This is the best of both worlds for them," claimed Gidney, who said that after several years of losses as the ground was rebuilt, a £3.5m operating profit was registered last year.
"We have a really good relationship with Emirates. Most historical naming is about putting a name on a sign and you do a deal on some hospitality tickets and some signs on walls and that's where it is. For us it was about that, but it was also about building a venue brand for our conference and events business.
"That was a real launch pad for us: becoming Emirates Old Trafford, staging an Ashes Test, launching our venue brand which we've been really delighted with."

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