There is a growing concern, and even outrage, that Newcastle will be entering into a sponsorship deal with Wonga, the payday loan lenders, who charge outrageous interest rates to the very people who do not have much money and cannot afford it – and there’s always been a morality question over companies who do these kinds of financial deals.
But it could well be that Newcastle will have that name on their shirts next season, so Newcastle will be advertising the Wonga business specifically, and the payday loan lending industry in general.
The good news today is that the discussions are said to be focused only on a shirt sponsorship deal, and the naming rights to St James’ Park stadium are not being discussed.
Malcolm Dix is the honorary vice-president of Newcastle, and had this to say about the situation:
“If they are going to pay £20m for the right to sponsor the club then that’s great. It would be wonderful if they could incorporate St James’ Park into the name of the ground and that would keep everybody happy.”
“It’s a very interesting choice of company. After all, in the financial situation that this country is in then the people that lend money are probably the richest of the lot.”
The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, had said in May that that companies like Wonga, who charge ridiculously high interest interest to their clientele, who are the poorer people among us, was morally wrong:
“The reality is interest rates in the thousands of percent. It is just morally wrong.”
And Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery who is the Labour MP and Chairman of Ashington FC, said he would return his tickets if the club goes ahead with the move:
“It is absolutely outrageous that a club would even consider this.” “I have more and more people coming to see me and saying that as a result of job losses or benefit cuts they are being forced into these terrible but legal money lenders whose interest rates only then trap them into further debt.
“It would be sickening to see the club linked to this and I would certainly break off all ties with them. I have two platinum club tickets that I would be returning straight away if they tarnish the reputation of this club with a Wonga deal.
“We are trying to get a tougher Government approach against these firms. How in an area hit by the cuts as badly as the North East can the club even consider this?”
Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes, who was involved in an altercation with the club when they changed the name of St. James’ Park to Mike Ashley’s company (how much is the owner paying for that?), is not happy with the potential new move by the club:
“There is widespread concern in Newcastle about the role of legal loan sharks in getting people further and further into debt, offering irresponsible rates of interest that people can’t afford.”
But there is past experience that Mike Ashley does not take into account the opinions of fans or business leaders of Newcastle, and he does his own thing.
But business is not just about making money – there is a social responsibility attached to any business too.
Most fans only want good businesses and respected businesses to be associated with the club – Richard Branson’s Virgin Money was one of them.
We suppose the good news is that we’re not going to have Wonga Stadium as the new name of St. James’ Park.
What do you think about this?
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Buy your Newcastle tickets here.