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What’s W(r)onga With Us All?

10 years ago

Our new/future sponsors have caused quite a stir.  Even the Football Supporter’s Federation (FSF – who are sponsored by a gambling website no less) are getting in on the moan about Newcastle United teaming up with ‘legal loan sharks’ as they are being called by some.

I don’t understand advertising or sponsorship and my economic senses tell me not to get into debt if I can help it.  I’ve always been the type who saves up his money if he wants to buy something and if he can’t afford it then he obviously doesn’t need it that badly to take a risk.  Mortgages and car loans excepted, that’s how I generally roll.  Even when it comes to paying for my season ticket I might take advantage of the monthly direct debit.  However, if I was being charged a premium, let’s say an additional £20 over the course of the loan, then I’d probably try and pay it all upfront by saving in advance.

So, Wonga then.  They advertise on the shirts of Blackpool and Hearts apparently.  Anyone else know that before the outbreak in NE1.  According to the FSF they also; “…used to advertise across the majority of Football League club websites”.  Well, now that it has been mentioned it rings a bell but I didn’t see an FSF statement, media frenzy or locals with pitchforks in an uprising against morality then, did you?

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It would seem that Wonga offer a service.  It would also seem to me that if I needed £200 for whatever reason in a hurry (like to pay for a trip to Brugge) and could pay that back when I get paid next week at a premium of £50 for example then that is my choice and I know the score from the outset.  If for whatever reason I choose not to pay that back for 12 months then a +4000% rate of interest may be applied.  So I also know that too then.  Now as an adult I should be able to weigh up the benefits and disadvantages or this scenario and decide whether I’m prepared to accept these consequences.  The ‘vulnerable’ can make that choice too.

So when it comes to them giving us £6-8 million a season do I really care how that is funded.  Well I suppose morally I might but realistically I don’t.  Just because Wonga use us to advertise their product doesn’t mean I have to like it or even use it.  As far as I am aware they have adverts on TV.  If that is the case, are all these people claiming they won’t step foot inside St James’ Park again until they are removed, still going to continue watching the TV channels that run their adverts?  Will they be writing to the head of ITV (other channels are also available to watch) demanding they suspend Wonga’s adverts until they act more responsibly?  Yeh, I doubt it too.

As a teenager, NUFC changed their sponsors to Greenalls.  Now I didn’t suddenly grow a conscience to blatantly not buy a pint of their beer in favour of our own fine product from the Newcastle Breweries.  I never even tried a pint of Greenalls. Why would you when Brown Ale and Exhibition is available!!  Newcastle Breweries doesn’t exist in Newcastle any more, is that not more despicable in terms of lost jobs to the local economy?

When Liverpool were sponsored by Hitachi my parents didn’t suddenly tell Redifusion where they could stick their aerial, even though the rental of a TV probably outweighed buying one outright.  Similarly, when Liverpool were sponsored by Crown Paints I’m pretty sure everyone who went down to the local DIY store was aware other paint manufacturers were also available to select from.

We see adverts for lots of products on TV but I don’t suddenly decide I need them all and I doubt whether some scantily clad wench holding an ice lolly is suddenly going to make me want one, given it’s minus effing 3 degrees outside.

What about clubs sponsored by online casinos, bookies (The FSF and Football Conference too) and bingo merchants, is that the same as, “…targeting the vulnerable who need a loan”?  Are gamblers not vulnerable too since it’s an addiction but it’s ok for their slogans to be sprawled across football shirts, on red and white ones down the road not so long ago.  They’ve now got some African sponsorship, hopefully from a nice man in Nigeria who has promised them riches if they’ll just send him their bank account details, fingers crossed.

However, when it comes to your football team there are not other products to choose from.  NUFC is a monopoly.  It makes no difference who is in charge, who is representing them on the pitch, what the ground is called, who the sponsors are, who supplies the match pies, or where the programmes are printed.  The majority of us are still going to turn up.  For those out there who have taken the moral high ground and told Ashley they won’t return until: the singing section is reinstated, the ground is returned to being called St James’ Park (you’ll be coming back now then), the Legal Loan Sharks are run out of town, Mrs Miggins supplies the half time pies again, or more importantly to some he sells up and leaves – then I’m afraid, “you’re cutting your nose off to spite your face”, as me mam would say.

I don’t agree with a lot of decisions made by Mr Ashley and his mob but realistically unless everyone protests, then a minority of lost support won’t make a ha’porth of difference.  Realistically at the moment it’s a case of better the devil you know, as who is the alternative?

Remember, you don’t have to endorse the values of Wonga, use their product, or buy a club shirt with their name on it.  YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE.  There are alternatives out there, along with every other product being shoved under your nose.  Except football that is, you’re stuck with that one for life unfortunately, my fellow foot soldiers (or cannon fodder to them upstairs).

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