With the ink still drying on the four year sponsorship deal between Newcastle United and “digital finance company” (PR spin) Wonga, the reaction has been varied to say the least.
However most of the ire has not been directed at the club, at least not in terms of football anyway, and instead we have a lot of people jumping on some form of moral bandwagon regarding what a business should and shouldn’t do.
They see Wonga, and presumably other such companies, as nothing more than parasitic loan sharks intent on causing misery and preying on the financially weak. Not too dissimilar to what banks do really, and they’ve not exactly been the choirboys of the financial world have they? Perhaps the values are different, but the principle is the same.
I’m no great fan of companies such as Wonga so I don’t use them. I’m lucky enough that I’ve never had to consider using them and I hope things stay like that. However not everyone uses them because they have to as a means of last resort which seems to be glossed over in all of this. There are after all some people who just can’t wait to have that TV, or those that use it responsibly.
Anyway, I’m not here to preach. People will use then when they need/have to and that is why they are still here. I’m just wondering whether Wonga bitten off more than they can chew when it comes to this particular deal?
The decision to change the name back to St James’ Park was a wise one that has softened some of the blow although I remain sceptical as to why they’ve done that. Perhaps it was thrown in to the deal? Who really knows other those involved?
What I have been shocked at though, more than anything, is the reaction from the press. I knew some people wouldn’t like dealing with Wonga, but why have the press got such a bee in their bonnet about it all of a sudden? I don’t remember so much coverage when they agreed a deal with Hearts or Blackpool?
No we have reporters speaking to financial wizards and religious clerics and asserting the fact that a company such as Wonga, that charges interest, is against Sharia Law and that somehow out Muslim stars such as Cheik Tiote, Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba may well refuse to wear the shirt. Incidentally I assume Virgin Money, which also charges interest by the way, is above Sharia Law?
It’s even been mentioned that former West Ham and Tottenham striker Frederic Kanoute refused to wear a shirt at his club at the time, Sevilla, because the sponsor was gambling firm “888” which goes against his beliefs. Incidentally his protest didn’t last long as you can see by the picture although he was excused from their publicity campaigns.
It doesn’t end there though. We have MP’s commenting on it and even suggestions that the league may step in to stop it, which would be interesting to say the least and would open up a whole new can of worms. If they ban one, then how about the rest, like the gambling companies for example? How about alcohol companies whilst we’re at it?
Those shouting loudest about this are the ones that haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory previously and I find it quite ironic that some have chosen to get the soapbox out for this one. It’s a name on a shirt at the end of the day, not a reason to get all moral. It’s business, and business is a cut throat world.
But if getting moral is your bag then just remember we haven’t had much luck with sponsors and you may well get some joy when you read through the list of companies we’ve been associated with over the years that no longer exist. Greenalls was bought out by Scottish & Newcastle and took over the sponsorship. Neither exist anymore. NTL, Northern Rock etc etc…
Have Wonga miscalculated their maths with this one?