The football season is over, I think, it’s never really over is it. This year Newcastle United, a football club, announced that they had signed up a new sponsor. Apparently you can have a sponsor for different things, a shirt sponsor and a stadium sponsor for instance.
Just for the avoidance of doubt, at this early point in this blog post, I should point out that this post is not about football; I know nothing at all about football, and I couldn’t care less about football. I have only ever been to Newcastle United’s football ground once, and that was in 1984 for the Queen concert. That was a really good night, and a good use of that stadium which is normally just a waste of city-centre space. No, this post is about business.
Wonga.com is the shirt sponsor for NUFC. When this was announced, I was highly entertained listening to broadcasters coming up with a polite name for this business. They called it wonga.com, the pay-day loans company! An amusing description of a loan sharking business. Legal loan sharking, but loan sharking none the less.
Part of the deal that Wonga.com have is that they also are the stadium sponsors and can call the stadium what they like. Many possible names were imagined by the creative media, but Wonga were to clever for them. The decide to call it – St James’ Park. Of course it’s always been called that until recently when the greedy owner of Newcastle United named it after his business, Sports Direct, the company that sells cheap sporting goods at seriously inflated prices. The football fans hated it and were very angry when the St James’s Park name was removed from the stadium. incidentally, I fail to see why the BBC, an organisation that we fund, felt that the had to call, on TV, the Newcastle United stadium the Sports Direct Arena. When I worked for BBC Radio Newcastle, I never once called the concert arena the ‘Metro Radio Arena’ I always refered to it by its correct name the ‘Newcastle Arena’.
Anyway back to the money. Wonga, who’s TV adverts feature those puppets of very annoying old people, lend money at an extortionate rate of interest, to people who can not afford to borrow it, or can not get credit anywhere else. They will lend you up to £400 for up to forty-two days at an APR of 4214%!, and then also have the audacity to charge a ‘transaction fee’ of £5.50 for providing the service! No wonder Wonga are a rich company, rich enough to spend thousand of pounds sponsoring a football club. But actually, that is the clever part. Sponsoring a football club means that they will grab the attention of the football fan, already short of money, struggling to come up with the money to buy a replica football shirt. £47.00 is an astonishing amount of money to have to pay for a cheap polyester shirt, but that is how much they are on the Sports Direct website. If you want the full kit, shirt, shorts and one pair of socks, it rises to a massive £67.98.
It’s a double wammy isn’t it. Football fans already have to pay massive amounts of money to get in to football games and pay to travel to away games, so are consequently short of money. When the football club launch yet another new kit the football fans have to go and buy a new cheap polyester kit. Actually the don’t have to, but they do. What do they do if they can’t afford it? They can borrow the money from Wonga! Brilliant. So if you need to borrow £68 for a month to pay for a new kit. That on Wonga will cost you £95.97. An astonishing amount of money.
So the football fan gets overcharged yet again, Mike Ashley gets loads of money for his cheap polyester clothing, Wonga make a fortune from the fans who pay them the astronomical charge but those fans then walk around in shirt that advertises the people who have overcharged them!
I am so pleased that I don’t care about football!