Ex-footballers are the new mayors when it comes to opening buildings in the North East.

It was a game of two halves last week as footballing legends Sir Bobby Robson and Gary Pallister unsheathed the ceremonial scissors to open the 750th branch of Travis Perkins in Newcastle, and the Acorn Sports Centre in Middlesborough respectively.

Sir Bobby – former Newcastle United and England manager – may have hoped that the form he showed on the North Tyne Industrial Estate would be enough to get picked in the squad of local dignitaries and councillors at the opening of the Acorn Centre down the road in Middlesborough. But he was left on the bench as Pallister, the former England and Middlesborough player, was called up.

It seems that when it comes to cutting the tape, as in the beautiful game, the home advantage is an advantage, as Sir Bobby would say.