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SBD Global/October 9, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Wonga In Shirt Sponsorship Talks With Newcastle United

Short-term loans company Wonga "is in talks over a shirt sponsorship deal" with Premier League football club Newcastle United, according to Ben Martin of the London TELEGRAPH. The "controversial company" is in discussions to become Newcastle’s next shirt sponsor in a deal that "is expected to last at least three years" from the start of the '13-14 season. Wonga’s logo is already on the shirts of Championship club Blackpool as part of a sponsorship agreement, which lasts until the end of this season. Wonga would replace banking group Virgin Money as Newcastle’s shirt sponsor, after Virgin's deal was terminated a year early last week (TELEGRAPH, 10/8). In London, James Quinn reported Wonga will sponsor "both the shirts and the club's stadium" in a deal believed to be worth £8M ($12.8M) a year (TELEGRAPH, 10/6). However, REUTERS' Keith Weir reported that the deal is for "shirt sponsorship only," citing a source close to the deal. A Wonga spokesperson declined to comment on the reported Newcastle link but said that the company "remained committed to working with Blackpool." Premier League rules allow a company to sponsor the shirts of more than one club, meaning a promotion for Blackpool back to the top flight "would not impede a deal with Newcastle" (REUTERS, 10/8).

UNDER FIRE: MARKETING MAGAZINE's John Reynolds reported that Wonga "has been hit by criticism for the high interest it charges on its loans," which are "much higher than most other lenders." However, Wonga said that "the majority of its customers pay their loans back in less than a month." Wonga has also been criticised by the Office of Fair Trading "over the way it carries out debt collection, a criticism rejected by Wonga" (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 10/8). MARKETING WEEK's Sebastian Joseph reported that  Newcastle City Council Labour Leader Nick Forbes "criticised the potential deal" on Twitter. Forbes wrote, “Wonga about to sponsor #NUFC? Disgraceful if true, will undermine all the work we are doing to crack down on legal loan sharking” (MARKETINGWEEK.co.uk, 10/8).
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