Daniel Gregory’s column: Plenty of interest in Toon’s Wonga deal

Newcastle United have arranged a controversial �24million sponsorship deal with payday lender Wonga
Newcastle United have arranged a controversial �24million sponsorship deal with payday lender Wonga

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central tweeted: “Some of the richest young men in Newcastle to wear shirts calling on the poorest to go to a legal loan shark,” in expressing his anguish at Newcastle United’s £24million-sponsorship deal with payday loan company Wonga.

A lot has been written, said and indeed tweeted about the deal that was officially announced on Tuesday.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09: Newcastle United Managing Director Derek Llambias speaks with Errol Damelin, Founder and CEO of Wonga.com during a photocall as wonga.com agree a four year shirt sponsorship deal on October 09, 2012, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09: Newcastle United Managing Director Derek Llambias speaks with Errol Damelin, Founder and CEO of Wonga.com during a photocall as wonga.com agree a four year shirt sponsorship deal on October 09, 2012, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

I 100 per cent think the influx of high-interest loan companies in this country is deplorable.

Wonga and other companies in the same marketplace would be classed as loan sharks in most other countries in europe.

Yes, their extortonate 4,214 per cent APR are eye-watering, and take advantage of families in dire straights up and down the country.

But this is a case that needs looking at away from the sport of football though.

The fact that these companies need regulating more stringently isn’t Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias’ fault is it?

Ashley has come under a huge amount of scrutiny for many of the decisions he has made since buying the club.

In my opinion he has managed the club in a fashion that others should be looking to adopt.

In many ways Ashley has run Newcastle United as a business - not a football club.

Many other clubs aren’t operating as they should and could come into a spot of bother in years to come - Portsmouth a prime example of this.

But putting the financial benefits of the £24million deal to one side, the morale aspects have to come into play here too.

If people are pointing the finger of blame at Ashley and Llambias for allowing this deal - they need to start wagging at BSkyB, ITV, BBC, the Premier League and not to mention a host of other football clubs that proudly emblazon the logos of other far from ethical companies.

Liverpool FC are sponsored by Charter Standered - a company recently accused of laundering money in Iran.

The Premier League is sponsored by Barclays and the League Cup is now known as the Capital One Cup.

The most historic and traditional domestic cup competition in the world, the FA Cup, was sponsored by EON, another company who were tarnished with the brush of mistreating their customers to make larger profits.

Those companies aren’t exactly whiter than white are they?

Barclays are one of many banks repaying millions and millions to their loyal customers after misleading many into taking payment protection insurance.

Capital One have had their image muddied over recent years as well, but were those deals scrutinised in this manner? No.

Wonga have executed a smart bit of smoke and mirrors public relations by forgoing their chance to name the stadium after their company and instead reverted it back to St James’ Park. Fans should be happy on that front, despite the firm’s poor reputation.

I can see where the annoyance at this deal comes from, but fans need to remember that the finger of blame should be pointed firmly at the government and their loose regulation of money lenders in this country.

Not at Ashley or Llambias, who have merely sourced a good bit of sponsorship revenue for the club/business they are trying to take to the next level.

What do you think? Email me at daniel.gregory@jpress.co.uk or Tweet me @mrdanielgregory