Has a sports team sponsorship deal ever caused as much of a media stir as that of Newcastle United's announcement to team up with the UK based financial company Wonga?
As an avid listener to Talksport radio, I have spent the last few days hearing the presenters, fans, ex-professionals and even local Members of Parliament comment on the deal with Wonga. One word that I have heard over and over again is 'ethics'. Wonga are seen in the public as an unethical company who prey on people who are struggling financially. Do Newcastle United have a moral obligation to stay away from companies with such a negative public reputation?
I personally feel that the public perception of Wonga is unfortunate and may be unjust. Wonga is a short term money lending company - not a loan Shark. Yes they offer ridiculously high interest rates (currently 4214%) , however this is a company who only offers a max loan of 400 GBP - we can all agree this is not an amount of money which will lead to financial ruin for anyone. Our previous Sponsor - Northern Rock who have strong roots in the city of Newcastle actually can be accused of having a large part to play in the banking melt down over recent years. Many people suffered as a result, yet there were no complaints regarding their connection with NUFC.
Looking at the moral obligation of NUFC - an argument could be made that dealing with Alcohol or betting companies breeches more ethical boundaries than the current Wonga deal. Unfortunately, many more lives have been ruined through Alcohol or gambling addictions - yet no moral high ground is taken when choosing to agree to sponsorship deals with companies in this sector. Numerous Premiership clubs happily plastered the logo of a Beer company or Betting websites across their shirt without little thought for the impact on society - yet NUFC are accused of neglecting their fans by teaming up with Wonga? I just don't get what all the fuss is about.
As fans we have the choice to form our own opinion of the clubs new sponsor, however no matter what the club sponsor may be one thing remains the same - We are still Newcastle United, the club we all fell in love with and continue to support.
If all else fails and you cannot stomach the connection between Wonga and our beloved NUFC - I urge you to at least find some joy that we no longer play at the Sports Direct Arena!