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Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to play in the 'Microsoft Santiago Bernabeu'?

Reports in Spain are suggesting that Bill Gates has entered negotiations with Real Madrid for naming rights of their historic stadium.

With a host of top European clubs looking to raise extra revenue by selling the naming rights to their stadiums, reports in Spain suggest that Real Madrid could be the latest side to cash in.

Spanish newspaper El Confidencial has suggested that Bill Gates has been in touch with the capital-city side to discuss purchasing the naming rights for the Santiago Bernabeu.

It is believed that a preliminary meeting between Mary Garana, president of Microsoft Spain, and Real Madrid’s Florentino Perez took place at the Bernabeu during the week.

Negotiations are thought to be scheduled to continue, with no quick answer set to be made by the club. Madrid are also planning renovation of the ground in the near future.

With the Emirates and Etihad Stadiums, Allianz Arena and countless other commercialised grounds across the continent, Microsoft’s reported approach should not come as an overly surprising piece of news.

In the English Premier League, Arsenal, Manchester City, Hull and Stoke have taken financial advantage of the naming rights of their stadiums, while Newcastle’s ground was briefly changed to the Sports Direct Arena for a time before reverting to St James’ Park.

Most football fans would prefer their team’s grounds to stick with their traditional monikers, as the names are synonymous with the game and have historical significance.

However, the example of Arsenal in particular is interesting. Highbury was a stadium that was iconic in the English game, but moving to the Emirates Stadium has allowed the club to have a more substantial amount of fans in attendance at their games.

As a result of the increased revenue this brings and the money that the Middle Eastern airline pay for the naming rights, Arsene Wenger has transfer funds to spend. Mesut Ozil’s arrival in north London could well have been bankrolled by the Emirates deal.

It is hard to imagine the likes of Old Trafford or Anfield being named something else, and the same goes for Santiago Bernabeu. However, despite the inevitable anguish of the fans to any potential decision, the option and its financial merits will be weighed up by the powers that be in the Spanish club.

image: © Ian D

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