Mike Ashley and Wonga: a marriage made in heaven

Over the last year or two here at the Mambo we’ve said some fairly kind things about Newcastle United. The implementation of a shrewd, progressive transfer policy left DC suitably impressed and our resident football sage’s prediction that they would do well last year turned out to entirely accurate. DC’s wisdom belies his tender years.

However we never entirely forgot that owner Mike Ashley is a scoundrel of the highest order. He disgusts the sensibilities of the Mambo on so many levels. His crimes are legion, none more so than having anything to do with the contemptible Dennis Wise, a cross between Arthur Daley, Cain and a garden gnome. 

So it should come as no surprise that Newcastle have signed a £24 million sponsorship deal with Wonga, in my humble opinion the Fred West of British capitalism, the payday loan company with a 4,214% APR on their ‘product’.

Wonga are one of those firms that create nothing and prey on the insecurity of those with the least. Their only social function is to perpetuate misery and poverty. And as the consistently excellent David Conn points out, many of Wonga’s victims customers live in the disproportionately deprived North-East, where Newcastle draw the vast majority of their support from. It is a cruel irony that some of the poorest people in that region will now be paying the wages of millionaire footballers through their Wonga loans.

The move has been condemned by local MPs, and it has been suggested that the Muslim players would be ‘sinning’ wearing a shirt advertising the services of a ‘usurer’, but it appears that Newcastle are ploughing on regardless.

Of course, to argue that the club needs the money and that trumps any other consideration is a) amoral and b)disingenuous, as the sums involved aren’t vast in the grand scheme of things (£6 million a year-bear in mind they received £35 million from the sale of Andy Carroll alone).

It’s also worth bearing in mind that a club as big as Newcastle wouldn’t struggle to sign a lucrative sponsorship deal with another company. It didn’t have to be Wonga, I’m sure. Anyone would have been better, including most arms dealers and organ traffickers.  

From Wonga’s point of view it’s quite a coup however. It will provide a massive boost to their profile in the sport of the very working class people that are most likely to use their ‘service’.

Of course it would be foolish to hope for better from Ashley, Derek Llambias et al, who are clearly hypnotized by £ signs, whoever is dangling them in their face and however disgusting the people dangling them might be.

But maybe Newcastle fans, a rather more enlightened bunch that London media set gives them credit for, need to ask whether they can continue to give their hard-earned money to pay to watch a club that is surely now as far removed from the community it claims to represent as ever.

This deal neatly crystallizes how English football has well and truly lost its soul.

Any initiative taken to pressure Newcastle into reversing their decision is to be welcomed and supported.

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