We here in the UK and many other climes live in an age of austerity. This is coded language for lots of people are financially on the floor. Newcastle United are on the brink of a deal that may redefine Premier League sponsorship.
There’s little point in wading through the murky and pointless discussion of how we got here in the first place. Let Mr Bridger from The Italian Job guide you when it comes to politicians. ‘Camp Freddie, everybody in the World is bent!’
We’re here now and whatever way society is squeezed you can guarantee that there will always be those in a position to help. Short term loan companies are like erections at a Viagra trial. Not much emotion, lots of interest.
Wonga.com appear to have taken the bait that Newcastle owner Mike Ashley placed when he re-branded Sid James Park, The Sports Direct Arena. But the initial responses don’t seem favourable. Ian Lavery, the Labour MP for Wansbeck who is a season ticket holder at Sid James Park :
“Financial predators who make their money from people suffering from unemployment, low wages and in the greatest financial need. Newcastle United will be sponsored by the money of deprived people up and down the country,”
“If Wonga get this sponsorship through I will not set foot in St James’ Park until it is off the shirts. To have those players running around on that turf endorsing Wonga is an absolute outrage.
“I have more and more people coming to see me and saying that as a result of job losses or benefit cuts they are being forced into these terrible but legal money lenders whose interest rates only then trap them into further debt.”
Michael Martin, editor of the fanzine True Faith said:
“The people who run Newcastle, for the fans, have a social responsibility. 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. Newcastle is being used to normalise their product. It cheapens and tarnishes the Newcastle United brand. I wouldn’t want my logo next to them, so what do other sponsors think?”
Who called this type of lending legal loan sharking? Not me guv, but Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy who was specifically talking about ‘Money Shop’ when workers at The Money Shop were invited into classrooms at Holy Family Technology College in Walthamstow as part of a scheme organised by the Young Enterprise charity:
“I know many parents in Walthamstow who share my concerns about legal loan sharking will be shocked to find a charity such as young enterprise letting these companies into our schools and so helping them to promote themselves as socially responsible.
“Until this industry is regulated properly through caps on the costs of credit they have no place in our education system – and I hope young enterprise will think again before allowing their good work to be associated with such firms.”
This is relevant to us because we’ll be in a similar boat sooner rather than later. And I’d appreciate your thoughts – I may be wrong, but I’d suggest to you that ‘White Hart Lane’ as an official trading name, is one living on borrowed time.