Newcastle Wonga sponsorship

Unethical sponsors destroying football...

In November 2011 the management of Newcastle United caused the frustration and dissatisfaction of the fans of the club with its decision to rename St James Park to 'Sports Direct Arena'.

The athletic director of the club asserted that the renaming will stay until to find a sponsor that will meet the financial requirements of President, Mike Ashley.

The search lasted less than a year, as the club issued a statement which mentions a four years deal with 'Wonga', a money-lending company.

The company name will be on the jersey of Newcastle from next season, replacing Virgin Money, and having bought the rights of the stadium's name, Wonga decided that the stadium will be called again St. James Park. "We open our ears over the past three days and what we saw what really matters to the fans. Football is an emotional sport and obviously of great importance to them." said the spokesman of Wonga.

The restoration of the traditional name of the stadium would expect to cheer the fans of the English team, but even this move was not enough to temper their anger, which stems from the agreement with Wonga. The company counts only four years since its establishment, but has shown tremendous growth. Within this space, has given more than 3.5 million short-term loans while the amount spent on advertising campaign reached about 16 million pounds in 2011 and in 2009 was only 22,000 pounds.

Newcastle United current sponsors
Wonga will replace Virgin Money as the main sponsors of Newcastle United next season

The ads have flooded the television channels and the company logo is found on many buses in London. Regarding football, both Blackpool and Hearts bear are advertising the company logo. It is understood that the rapid rise of companies that providing loans like Wonga, coincides with the economic crisis, which has not left England unaffected.

The headquarters of the company are at Newcastle and North East of England, areas that have the highest unemployment rate in the country, while wages are very low compared to other cities, especially London.

Finance companies like Wonga have invested in financial hardship of the local residents. Several people have accused Wonga that exploits the desperation of its customers to cover some of their needs, giving them the loan at a very high interest rate.

This company policy explains the great dissatisfaction of the friends of Newcastle. Ian Lavery, Member of Parliament for Wansbeck area, is a season ticket holder at St James Park, but said he will no longer go the stadium. "A city like Newcastle and the surrounding area should not have any relationship with an organization like Wonga. This company makes money on the backs of people who are in need, who are desperate and are the most vulnerable in society." said the MP on BBC.

The majority of Newcastle fans expressed its opposition to an agreement with Wonga, which is another blow to a sport that is constantly plagued by money. Graham Stokoe, who also have a season ticket at St James Park, says that this agreement is an ethical foul. "This is a very good deal for Wonga, since areas like Newcastle are key objectives for such business, but it is unethical foul, if we take into account the economic situation of residents in the area." said Graham Stokoe.

Most of the fans believe that the restoration of the name was meant to appease fans of Newcastle, who have opposed the decision of the administration to give hands with Wonga. "It's a smart move and obviously done to avoid criticism of the company that signed the agreement." said Mark Jensen, who is editor of fanzine 'The Mag'.