Soccer City reverts to FNB Stadium

By Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - The South Gauteng High Court has ruled that the spectacular stadium which hosted both the opening and final matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup should revert to its original name - FNB Stadium, until 2014.

Judge Margaret Victor made the ruling on Wednesday after FirstRand brought an urgent application to interdict National Stadium Management (NSM), the company appointed to manage the stadium after the World Cup, from renaming the stadium.

The iconic stadium was originally called FNB Stadium prior to the World Cup. However, football governing body, FIFA, did not allow any brand names other than that of official tournament sponsors and it was changed to Soccer City for the duration of the event.

NSM had wanted to change the name to National Stadium when it began managing it after the World Cup ended.

The issue, which came under dispute, was that in 2007 an agreement was concluded whereby full naming rights for a period of ten years backdated from July 2004, be granted to FirstRand until 2014, with the first right of renewal by the bank for a further 24 months. The agreement was signed by the Department of Public Works, Soccer City, the Stadia, Soccer Development Trust, South African Football Association (Safa) and FNB.

These naming rights grant FirstRand the exclusive right to name the stadium "First National Bank Stadium" or "FNB Stadium", or any other such name as may be chosen by FirstRand Bank Limited from time to time.

In a statement, First National Bank said it was pleased with the court ruling and would continue with its promotional and other programmes bearing the name FNB Stadium. - BuaNews