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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Cumbrian politicians united against loan company’s Newcastle sponsorship

Copeland MP Jamie Reed and former Carlisle council leader Mike Mitchelson have united in calls to Newcastle United fans to boycott the club’s replica shirts if they carry the name of the new sponsor – Wonga.

Jamie Reed photo
Jamie Reed

The Labour MP claims that the pay-day loan provider exploits vulnerable borrowers by charging exorbitant rates of more than 4,000 per cent APR.

He tweeted following the announcement that Wonga had agreed a £24m sponsorship deal with the Magpies, saying: “Geordie fans: at a minimum, insist new replica shirts don’t carry the sponsor. If they do, don’t buy them.”

Mr Reed told the News & Star: “Pay-day loan companies are behind some of the worst examples of personal indebtedness and poverty in some of the most long-suffering parts of the country.

“I’m a Liverpool fan and you could say it’s none of my business. But if I was from Newcastle, I wouldn’t want my city to be represented by or associated with a company that is as vilified as Wonga. It would be very hard to take.”

Wonga has pulled off a PR coup by buying the naming rights for Newcastle’s stadium and reverting to the original name, St James’s Park.

The football club’s owner, Mike Ashley, sparked outrage when he changed the name to the Sports Direct Arena.

But Mr Reed said: “I don’t think Newcastle fans will fall for that. Nobody called it the Sports Direct Arena anyway, not even radio and TV commentators.”

A spokeswoman for Wonga defended the company.

She said: “APR is a complete red herring. In reality we charge one per cent [interest] per day.

“Customers value and trust the transparency of our pricing and the service we offer.

“They can take out loans on their own terms, borrowing however much they want for however long they want.”

Mr Reed, however, has cross-party support in the shape of Mike Mitchelson, the Conservative former leader of Carlisle City Council who is a Newcastle United season-ticket holder.

Mr Mitchelson said: “I wouldn’t buy a replica shirt with ‘Wonga’ on it.

“They’re not someone I would have encouraged as a shirt sponsor because of the trade that they’re in.”


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