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Archive for category: St James’s Park renaming rights.

The lending game: Newcastle United and Wonga

August 14th, 2013 | 34 Comments |

Wonga loan shark.
Wonga: Sinking their teeth into the North East.
A radio programme which is well worth listening to if you’re a Newcastle United fan is BBC Radio Four’s “the Lending Game,” a 40 minute look at Wonga’s controversial sponsorship of Newcastle United.

This is what the online blurb for the programme says:

“As Wonga moves into the mainstream with its sponsorship of Newcastle United, is the so-called payday lender responding to, or shaping, changing attitudes on money and morality? Chris Bowlby goes back to his teenage home on the Tyne to look at the rise of Wonga through the lives of the Toon Army.”

Amongst other things, it contains a fairly revealing interview with Newcastle United financial director, John Irving, who told Chris Bowlby that the clinching factor for working with Wonga was the company’s desire to “work with us on fans, the Academy and the Newcastle United Foundation,” who work with the Wonga customers of the future, youngsters from underprivileged families in the North East. However, the interview with Irving is abruptly halted later in the show by a female press officer (possibly Wendy Taylor) when the interviewer brings up controversial subject of former refusenik, Papiss Cisse, who was still in discussions with the club over wearing the shirt when the programme was being made. (more…)


Do Wonga actually pay anything for St James’ Park naming rights?

July 31st, 2013 | 70 Comments |

Wonga.
.
“It’s a big statement by Wonga to say: ‘We want the naming rights and we’re going to give it back to the fans and the community’.” gushed Derek Llambias.

Alan Pardew also chimed in, exulting:

“Getting the St James’ name back is fantastic. It is a clever move in terms of getting fans in a good place.”

“For so long, Llambias and owner Mike Ashley were associated with taking unpopular decisions (“We started off poorly,” he admits) but the announcement of a controversial deal with Wonga yesterday was significantly sweetened by news about the stadium name.” purred the Journal’s Mark Douglas.

Yet the sums just do not seem to add up. It was trumpted by Llambias that the new sponsorship deal with Wonga would be the club’s “biggest-ever commercial deal.” and when asked if the total deal amounted to £8 million per season, he acknowledged that sum was “not far off.” £6 million of this is going into the main shirt sponsorship side of the deal. As I pointed out in this earlier piece, this is actually slightly below the mean figure of £7.36 million for Premier League shirt sponsorship. However both Wonga and Llambias have made much of the fact that a further £1.5 million will go into the club’s Benton Academy and the Newcastle United Foundation, where Wonga will be getting involved with future customers local youngsters from underprivileged families. (more…)


Wonga and Newcastle United: Is it worth it?

October 14th, 2012 | 48 Comments |

Alan Pardew, Derek Llambias and Wonga.
Vampires.
“And how the poverty of these unfortunates, among whom even thieves find nothing to steal, is exploited by the property-holding class in lawful ways.” – Frederick Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England.

It is no longer news that Internet loan shark “Wonga” will be the club’s sponsors from next season for a period of four years.

I was going to write this piece a few days ago, but on reflection, I decided to leave it for a short while to see what emerged in terms of further details about the deal itself, and also the level of opprobrium which was inevitably going to follow the announcement. The exact amount is still shrouded in secrecy, though a figure of £24 million for the four years (£6 million per year) was bandied around in the media after the announcement was made, then the Telegraph claimed that the figure is more like £8 million per year (£32 million over four years). When this was put to the Managing Director, Derek Llambias, he suggested that the £8 million figure was “not far off.” As it’s Llambias though, this may not be true, but it is all we have to go on. As well as this, it is also been claimed that Wonga will be investing a further £1.5 million in the club’s Academy.

Llambias had the following to say on the new deal: (more…)


What has Newcastle United ever done for Mike Ashley (and Sports Direct)?

June 29th, 2012 | 62 Comments |

Sports Direct sign, St James' Park.
Cheap and nasty.
There has been something of a rehabiltation of the reputation of Mike Ashley at Newcastle United recently.

This, of course, has been due largely to the club’s generally upward trajectory in terms of it’s League position in recent seasons under Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew, as well as some successes in the transfer market since Ashley and Llambias cast their their three casino aquaintances adrift and let Chris Hughton bring in a proper chief scout, a move which has been highly beneficial for the club so far.

Less obviously, perhaps, there has also been a relentless PR campaign run through the media on all levels. Like the current coalition government, much has been said to demonise the previous administration, presenting Ashley as some kind of messiah type figure who made tough choices to save the club from certain liquidation as a great benevolent gesture to the people of Tyneside. But, according to the narrative, this has been a thankless task, with Geordie ingrates not showing the suitable appreciation of his selfless largesse. Admittedly, this isn’t the most difficult thing to do when the targets are the likes of Freddy Shepherd and Douglas Hall. According to a peculiar logic, much has also been made of what Ashley’s alleged financial “backing” of the club in terms of making a £140 million loan to himself, which is repayable on demand by the club, to save himself from paying high interest rates on his own Newcastle United debts. The term “clearing” the club’s debts has been used so often that many fans are still oblivious to the fact that the club is now actually far more in debt than it was when Ashley assumed control of the club in 2007. (more…)


Newcastle United 2011 / 2012 Season Review – Part One

May 18th, 2012 | 9 Comments |

Ba celebrates hat-trick against Stoke.
"Make mine a treble!" - Ba gets his revenge on the Potters who shunned him.
NUFC Season Review – Part Two.

The end of the season is finally upon us. A season in which defied all expectations. A season where even the most optimistic of Toon fans would have struggled to predict what would be.

Newcastle United gate-crashed the top six, and also knocked on the door of the Premier League’s top four. As it turned out at 5pm on Sunday the 13th of May 2012, Newcastle United were confirmed as finishing in 5th place, above Chelsea, above Liverpool, and above the majority of peoples expectations.

The Europa League awaits the Magpies next season, a new chapter or perhaps a new beginning is on the horizon. But before we look forward into what might be, I’m now going to relive the season that was. Cast my mind back and tell the tale of Newcastle United’s 2011 / 2012 season. I hope you are all sitting comfortably… (more…)