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Sep 2, 2004
Taken from the Sporting Life Website...


Cash-strapped Coca-Cola League One club Port Vale may be set for a financial windfall by renaming themselves and their stadium name in honour of Stoke-born Reginald Mitchell, who designed the Spitfire fighter plane.

American billionaire Sidney Frank, 85 - one of the world's wealthiest men - believes Mitchell should be honoured for designing the Spitfire, and now Vale could be set to profit from the octogenarian's wishes.

Chairman Bill Bratt learned of Frank's admiration for Mitchell via a recent newspaper article, in which he said he was prepared to pay for a statue of the Stoke-born inventor in London.

Bratt contacted Frank with a proposal for a deal which would see the Stoke club receive a financial injection in return for changing their name to Port Vale Spitfires and renaming Vale Park the Reginald Mitchell Stadium.

A statue of Mitchell and a Spitfire museum and visitor centre would also form part of the proposal, but Bratt stresses discussions with Frank are still in the early stages - and no figures have yet been mentioned.

Bratt revealed: "I read about Sidney Frank's admiration for Reginald Mitchell, and he was saying how he would like to do pay for a statue in London to mark his memory. But any such statue should be in his home town here in Stoke, so I got in touch with Mr Frank through his agent.

"Discussions have only just started, but we are hoping to strike a deal with Mr Frank which would see the club change its name to Port Vale Spitfires and the stadium renamed the Reginald Mitchell Stadium."

Mitchell was born in 1895 in Stoke and died in 1937, and Bratt added: "I have got a statue of Winston Churchill in my house and a model of Reginald Mitchell's Spitfire - because after Churchill, Reginald Mitchell was probably the most important person in Britain winning World War Two.

"Unfortunately he didn't live to see his plane fight during the conflict, but his importance to Britain and Fighter Command in World War Two cannot be overstated. What better way to commemorate one of Stoke's most famous sons than naming the stadium after him?

"He was born within a couple of miles of Vale Park - and having a statue here to commemorate him would serve as a fitting tribute to his memory.

"I would also like a museum in tribute to the Spitfire and Reginald Mitchell, and that could be visited throughout the week and not just on match-days.""

Port Vale Spitfires? I could see changing the nickname from The Valiants to the Spitfires, but Port Vale Spitfires? Sounds like a bloody baseball team...