Newcastle United have had their fair share of problems with sponsors in recent times. Of course Northern Rock went bust whilst adorning the home strip a few years back while Mike Ashley decided to sell the naming rights of the club’s stadium to his own company, which saw the emergence of the new Sports Direct Arena; complete with tacky decal and disgruntled fans, most of whom ignored the name change.
But Newcastle United’s new sponsors have really galvanised some of the fans with their purchase of the stadium’s name rights and subsequent re-naming, reverting back to type with St James Park officially the stadium’s name, again, starting next season.
But while some people are happy at the deal there has been much criticism levelled at the club for accepting a deal with a company who have been referred to as ‘glorified loan sharks’. The pay-day loan company charges quite astonishing amounts of interest and it has been argued that the company wantonly takes advantage of those people who are vulnerable in order to make money, and big money by the way.
Last year the company turned over a gross profit of £55 million pounds on the back of their somewhat morally questionable money-making scheme and while they have previously signed deals with Blackpool and Hearts the matter of the North-East’s alarmingly high insolvency rates seems to make the subject of large interest borrowing and subsequent critical debts on Tyneside a more sensitive issue.
But on the subject of sensitive issues it seems the move may also cause issue among some members of the first-team squad. Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheick Tiote are four players at the club who are practising Muslim’s, amongst a healthy and growing trend of Muslim footballers in Western Europe.
An announcement made by Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, stated that if the players choose to, they should be allowed to not have the sponsorship logo on their shirts under their rights to Sharia law.
The company’s way of making money goes against the concept of not benefitting or lending money from somebody, meaning earning interest is not allowed. For instance interest is not paid on Islamic savings, current accounts or mortgages.
Freddie Kanoute brought this issue to the limelight when he refused to wear the 888.com logo on his Sevilla shirt while in Spain, something that was complied too by the club.
While it does remain the player’s choice it is likely they may not want to endorse a company that is quite explicably against their beliefs and should therefore not be made to by the club.
That is my opinion, but what about yours, should the players in question have to wear Wonga.com upon their shirts?
image: © mikebrown59