It has been confirmed that Wonga.com, the money lending website, will be NUFC's new main sponsorship for the next 4 years and will have pride of place on the black and white shirts. The club officially announced it on their website earlier this afternoon, but it had more information in it then I was expecting. Which you can read here... Newcastle-Agree-Four-Year-Wonga-Deal
The sponsorship agreement is for the shirt and no mention of the stadium rights was within it. However, according to reports such as from The Chronicle, the stadium rights have also been sold or at least have been agreed to change. But have no fear Toon fans, it won't be called 'The Wonga Arena'...St James' Park is back!
It was expected that Wonga would only be the shirt sponsors and not be involved in the stadium which is what the statement from the club seemed to confirm. However reports from local media are saying that Wonga has in fact purchased the stadium name, or have at least requested the name to be changed as part of the sponsorship deal and have decided to rename it back to St James' Park. This does sound strange as you would expect Wonga to be in it somewhere but they probably will replace the dog awful Sports Direct signs for that of shiny new bright blue Wonga.com one's instead. Now these may be as much of an eyesore as SportsDirect but it's a small price to pay to have our identity, history and dignity back. More details on this will be released I am sure, but as for now I am aware that the stadium name is back. Thank the lord. Read here: Wonga Revert Stadium Name
Now, the announcement today included that as well as being the club's shirt sponsor, Wonga will be investing in the youth academy as well as other projects such as the Newcastle Utd Foundation which helps 15-16 yr olds find work as well as being involved in a new fan's forum. That could be interesting...
My initial feelings on this is that I don't have a problem with this deal at all and welcome it. If Wonga are paying us more £££ than Virgin than so be it. That's what it is about at the end of the day. The announcement that Wonga will also be investing into our youth academy is what caught my eye the most though. I wasn't expecting that.
Our youth academy (disgracefully) has not met the grade of Category One status under the new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). The reason NUFC failed to reach this level was because they failed to meet the criteria of investing at least £2.5m and have 18 full time staff dedicated towards it. Like I say, absolutey disgraceful. Especially when you consider Sunderland and Middlesbrough do meet the criteria. People say Mike Ashley has invested heavily into our club...but he cant stump up or invest in the academy properly? Fat useless Joker. All this being said, if Wonga.com want to do Mike Ashley's job for him then so be it. It's very much welcome in my eyes. Having the best possible youth academy set up is never a bad thing, so the announcement that Wonga.com will invest £1.5mil towards it is good news and not something any of us were expecting. I may also have to check out this new forum they mention. Look out...
However, with every announcement our football club makes these days there are arguments against it. I am usually on the side of these grumbling masses but I can't see the reason for being with them on this one. Some people are unhappy that with a new sponsor comes a new shirt for next season. Seeing as this season shirt is different to the last, in which that one was even different to the one previous to that, then that will be 4 new shirts in 4 consecutive seasons. If parents have a child/chidren who has to have the most up to date shirt no matter what, then another birthday/xmas present may have been added to the list. Again.
Other people are just unhappy at the sponsorship company themselves. Wonga have a bad rap on most fronts for having over the top interest rates for the money they lend people. Not to mention those annoying adverts. Now I have some sympathy for those parents who have fashion driven kids, I was a new shirt every season kid myself, but I dont have any agreement with these other grumbling fools. I mean, whats the problem? Are Wonga associated with the Taliban? Do they sell drugs to kids with every loan? Do they provide funds to the Syrian Army? Not to my knowledge. So what are you going on about now? So they have a high interest rate or some rubbish. So what. You don't have to use them. Just because they sponsor the club doesn't necessarily mean the club supports their business methods and should be now associated with everything they do. Its a sponsorship deal, not a company merger. If they want to pay us vast's amount of money in which we can use that to buy new players for the team and if they want to invest in our academy to help bring youngsters into the first team, then let them. Moaning and complaining because you wont like their logo on the shirt is so short sighted it's ridiculous. Get over it. It's not like it's SportsDirect.com for the sake of no return in investment, like the stadium was. Now you had my full support on that one.
No actual number of how much the club will be receiving has been announced by the club as of yet but it will be in the region of £5m and above, as this was what Virgin were reportedly paying the club. Now, I know Mike Ashley is a lot of things, but I cant see him cancelling one sponsorship deal for another for less money. So it's safe to assume this. I think...
So a bright blue Wonga logo will don the shirt next season and for the next 3 season after that. If this brings with it a huge chunk of wonga that the club use wisely on new players and the academy then it's very much welcome. Plus having the rightful stadium name back is music to all of our ears and it's about bloody time. The fact a money lending company had to make this happen is slightly staggering. But I am sure Mike will now claim that changing it in the first place has now been justified. That's his style after all. I can also get over being linked, not associated, with those annoying adverts on telly or the criticism the company receives from some sectors. I dont really care to be honest.
Although I am still upset slightly that the club have declined my offer of ToonBano.com to brand the shirts for the foreseeable future. I made them a canny offer they will never see the likes of which again...their loss.
Howay The Lads!! St James' is back!
(Comments welcome. Follow me on Twitter @ToonBano)