09/10/2012 10:10 BST | Updated 09/10/2012 11:06 BST

Newcastle United Agree Four-Year Deal With Wonga

Newcastle United has agreed a £24m, four-year sponsorship deal with short-term loans company Wonga, much to their supporters' dismay.

As well as gracing the black and white shirt, Wonga has successfully requested the Magpies' ground be renamed St James's Park, instead of the Sports Direct Arena.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has cut short the club's partnership with Virgin Money in favour of Wonga, who will also invest £1.5m into the Toon Army's youth academy as well as the Newcastle United foundation.

Errol Damelin, founder and CEO of Wonga beamed:

"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."

The APR on the short-term loans company is a staggering 4,214% although Wonga argues it is artificial because the maximum term is a month and they do not compound interest.

Wonga, which also sponsors Blackpool, was told by the Office of Fair Trading in May it had to improve its debt collection practices, and threatened to fine the firm.

And Michael Martin, editor of Newcastle fanzine True Faith, said the deal has pushed him "close to breaking point".

"The people who run Newcastle, for the fans, have a social responsibility," he told the Daily Mirror.

"I would love them to honestly answer one question: Would you, Mike Ashley, seriously recommend borrowing money from Wonga at those interest rates? If you can't answer yes then they shouldn't be our shirt sponsors."

MP for Northumberland, Ian Lavery, has already vowed not to step foot inside St James's Park.

“Newcastle United will be sponsored by the money of deprived people up and down the country," Lavery said, describing Wonga as "financial predators".


Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, added that the deal represented a profit at any price culture at the club and warned of the possible social consequences.

"I'm appalled and sickened that they would sign a deal with a legal loan shark," he fumed.

"We see the devastating consequences of people getting into financial difficulty and we spend a lot of money each year helping people who are in debt through companies like this.

"It's a sad indictment of the profit at any price culture at Newcastle United.

"We are fighting hard to tackle legal and illegal loan sharking and having a company like this right across the city on every football shirt that's sold undermines all our work."