Fans outraged at Newcastle United deal with 'legal loan shark' Wonga
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Featured, Finance
Newcastle United in deal with 'legal loan shark' Wonga
Newcastle United's fans are outraged that the club has signed a shirt sponsorship deal with controversial payday loan firm Wonga.
In a piece on one of the club's fan sites, true-faith.co.uk, supporter Michael Martin wrote: "In my opinion, Wonga and their ilk are vermin. They are the lowest of the low. They prey upon the most vulnerable in society and those in greatest need and exploit that for their own profit. It is the exploitation of the weak by the strong.
"Having Wonga associated with Newcastle United damages our identity...It will cheapen, tarnish and lower the image of the club. It should be resisted at all costs.”
The firm - which has been described by MP Stella Creasy as a "legal loan shark" - has drawn much criticism for charging 4,215% APR on its loans.
Mr Martin went on: "The proliferation of this type of scum [Wonga] on our high streets says everything about the deepening depression we are in as well as the crumbling of the welfare state many of our parents and grandparents struggled to establish for us."
The four year deal, which is believed to be worth over £24m, has been defended by the football club's managing director, Derek Llambias. The Telegraph reported that he said of Wonga: "They have a community feel about them. The money will also go to the academy and our foundation. It is our biggest-ever commercial deal and we are happy with it.”
Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, has fought a long campaign against Wonga. She has now called on the Football Association to extend its ban on alcohol and gambling adverts on merchandise for under-18s to include high cost credit companies.
Errol Damelin, founder and CEO of Wonga said: “We’re really proud to be involved with Newcastle United. It is one of the biggest and most important clubs in the UK by any measure and has a fantastic following around the world. We’re also really excited about investing in future stars both on and off the field. The Academy and the Enterprise Scheme gives us the opportunity to make a big difference.”
“We have just launched our small business offering and there are more great products to come. We know our customers love football and it goes without saying that, alongside Newcastle United, we will continue to support Blackpool and SFA cup winners Hearts.”
As part of the deal, Wonga won naming rights for the Newcastle stadium. In a move that may have been designed to win over fans, the firm has decided to revert to stadium's original name, St James' Park. It was renamed as the 'Sports Direct Arena' by current owner Mike Ashley last year, a move that angered fans.