Football Team Stuns Fans With E-Cigarettes Stadium Name

A non-league team has stunned football fans after renaming its ground after a brand of electronic cigarettes.

For the next three seasons, Merthyr Town's home will be known as The Cigg-e Stadium after signing a "lucrative" sponsorship package.

Penydarren Park before it was renamed

Health officials and supporters of the Southern League outfit have raised eyebrows at the name change - but club officials insisted the deal would safeguard its future.

The "phoenix club" only formed in 2010 from the ashes of Merthyr Tydfil FC's liquidation.

Brent Carter, the club's business development manager, said: "This is the first of a kind deal for us and this will considerably aid our long-term stability."

The deal in Merthyr comes just days after E-Lites, one of the leading brands of e-cigarettes in the country, were unveiled as an official partner of Derby County of the Championship.

And in June, Birmingham City announced a shirt sponsorship deal with Nicolites, which produces the largest brand of electronic cigarettes in the country.

E-cigarettes turn nicotine and other chemicals into a vapour that is inhaled - and are often marketed on the grounds of them being "safer" than conventional cigarettes.

A licensing regime for electronic cigarettes will not come into force until 2016, despite moves in some countries to outlaw them.

Earlier this month, rail companies introduced rules to ban passengers using the nicotine devices.

Anti-smoking charity Ash said it was worried that sporting sponsorship deals involving electronic cigarettes could encourage some children to take up the habit.

A spokesman said: "One of the reasons we support e-cigarettes regulation is that it will ban marketing aimed at children but allow marketing aimed at adults.

"So far around 900,000 smokers and 400,000 ex-smokers are currently using these products and there is no evidence of anyone who hasn't already been a smoker taking up e-cigarettes.

"But we need to keep an eye on how the market develops."

Meanwhile, the British Medical Association (BMA) Wales said the sale and use of e-cigarettes needed to be regulated urgently.

BMA senior public affairs officer John Jenkins said: "We need to restrict their marketing, sale and promotion so that it is only targeted at smokers as a way of cutting down and quitting and does not appeal to non-smokers, in particular children and young people."

Football fans were less than diplomatic about Merthyr's name change though, with many mocking the decision on Twitter.

Daniel Kahl wrote: "All for sponsorship for Merthyr, but renaming Penydarren Park the "cigg-e stadium"? - what a joke."

Other site users joked if the team itself should be renamed "Menthol Town" or whether the new sponsor deal would lead to more draws.