VICTORIA PARK, the proud home of Hartlepool United, is to have a new name … The Northern Gas and Power Stadium.

For the first time in the club’s history, the League Two outfit’s decision makers have moved to sell the naming rights to the ground as part of a three-year agreement; following a trend now familiar across football

As part of the partnership, Victoria Park will be re-named The Northern Gas and Power Stadium and the club has stated the deal is one of the biggest in the club’s history. Northern Gas and Power will also be printed on Hartlepool’s away shirts.

Pools’ owners JPNG have struck the deal with Northern Gas and Power – whose head office is based in Gateshead – and have become major partners in time for the first game of the 2016/17 season on Saturday at home to Colchester.

There has been criticism from some fans for the decision to sell the naming rights to Victoria Park, although the club’s chairman Gary Coxall insists it has had to be done to strengthen its arm in the Football League.

Coxall said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome Northern Gas and Power as partners of Hartlepool United.

“When we took over as owners of the Football Club we told supporters that we would look to bring in new lines of investment and expand our commercial reach, and I think this partnership highlights that initiative.

“We know it’s up to us to go out and source new sponsorship and Northern Gas and Power are a strong brand who will represent us well so they were our choice over four or five different companies.

“I think the partnership also demonstrates what an attraction we have become now to be bring in sponsorship from a great, forward-thinking company who have bought in to the brand of Hartlepool United.

“During negotiations between the two parties it became clear very quickly that we were on the same wavelength and I am delighted that we managed to agree a deal that will serve us both very well.”

Coxall has assured fans that the decision was not taken lightly. He added: “We’re fully aware of the sensitivities around the re-naming of football stadiums but we hope our supporters understand that this partnership has been negotiated with the best interests of the Football Club at heart.

“The history and tradition of Hartlepool United and everything the Club means to fans is very important to us – but so is the future. Other clubs have been benefitting from this type of deal and we don’t want to be left behind so we have to do the same to bring income in to the Football Club.”

Hartlepool have launched the new away kit on the same day and will be worn for the first time at Preston North End next Tuesday. There will be more details about when the new away kit will go on sale in due course.