Newcastle United has agreed a four-year sponsorship deal with controversial “payday” loans company Wonga. The lender will appear on the Magpies shirt come 2013-14 and has announced it will reinstate St James’ Park as the club’s official ground name.
Fans were quick to hit out at the deal with fanzine editor Michael Martin saying, “I'd be less bothered about NUFC wearing red and white stripes than having Wonga on our shirts and associated places. They are appalling. True Faith would never take advertising from them or their ilk.”
The Football Supporters’ Federation backs this stance.
At July 2012’s Fans’ Weekend a motion - proposed by Northampton Town fan Bob Ward - was passed which called upon “the football authorities across England and Wales to prohibit the promotion through football of ‘payday’ and other short term loans companies until such time as there is tighter regulation of this industry and a cap on interest rates has been applied.”
Many in attendance expressed concern over the activities and operations of Wonga and similar companies, in particular the extremely high interest rates they charge and the almost total lack of regulation of the short-term loans industry in the UK.
Wonga has received much criticism for its annual percentage rate which can reach 4,214% according to The Guardian. Wonga argues that this is an unfair comparison as it assumes money is loaned over a full year. Wonga’s short-term loans should be paid back within 30 days which gives a lower rate of interest.
Local political figures on Tyneside were quick to make their views known with Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah tweeting, “Please tell me its not true that nufc are looking at a shirt & stadium deal with Wonga?” Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes joined in the Twitter backlash calling Wonga “disgraceful” and accusing the firm of “legal loan sharking".
Wonga currently sponsors Blackpool and Hearts and used to advertise across the majority of Football League club websites on a platform supplied and managed by Football League Interactive. That deal finished at the end of the 2011-12 season.
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