SBD/October 10, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

EPL Club Newcastle's Shirt Deal With Wonga Said To Be Worth At Least $12.8M Annually

Wonga will restore the traditional name of Newcastle's stadium, St. James' Park
The shirt sponsorship deal between EPL club Newcastle United and U.K.-based short-term loans company Wonga is estimated to "be worth more than [$12.8M, all figures U.S.] a year over the course of the four-year agreement,” although "exact figures" have not been released, according to Luke Edwards of the London TELEGRAPH. Wonga also has “decided to curry favour by reverting” to the traditional name of the team’s stadium in an effort to “deflect claims that it is not a suitable commercial partner" for an EPL club. Signs with the name St. James’ Park, which had been designated Sports Direct Arena, will be “put up in time for Newcastle’s next home game against Club Brugge in the Europa League on Oct 25.” The money the deal will bring will “give the club more flexibility in the transfer market and will immediately provide [$2.4M] million to be spent on their academy” (London TELEGRAPH, 10/10). A Wonga spokesperson said of reverting to the stadium's traditional name, “We listened over the last three days, and we saw what really matters to the fans" (PA, 10/9).

A MATTER OF FAITH
: In London, Martin Hardy notes Newcastle's deal with Wonga was “engulfed in fresh controversy last night when the club's Muslim players were warned that wearing the new shirts would infringe Sharia law.” Under Sharia law, a Muslim is “not allowed to benefit from lending money or receiving money from someone.” Former La Liga club Seville F Frédéric Kanouté “refused to wear the 888.com logo of the gambling website” when he was with team “because of his religious beliefs.” He was “allowed to play games for Seville with an unbranded shirt but had to wear the logo on his training equipment” (London INDEPENDENT, 10/10).

RISING CRITICISM
: The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Chris Tighe noted the Wonga deal “unleashed a wave of criticism.” The news “provoked an immediate response from R3, the insolvency industry trade body, politicians and trade unions” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 10/9). In London, Burrows & Caulkin noted English FA General Secretary Alex Horne “reiterated the association’s desire to prevent ‘inappropriate’ companies becoming sponsors.” He said, “The leagues have clear rules about certain inappropriate advertising for children. We are talking to the leagues on Friday about it” (LONDON TIMES, 10/9).

For more on this story and a complete recap from the U.K., see today’s issue of SportsBusiness Daily Global.
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