Newcastle United to remove Wonga logo from kids replica shirts
The removal of the logo will not take place until the 2016-17 football season, the final year of the firm’s sponsorship of the north-east club. Wonga said the delay was due to production schedules.
The company said it had decided to remove the logo as part of a review of its marketing instigated by its new chairman, Andy Haste. When Haste arrived at the firm in July, he dropped its pensioner puppets and said he would put an end to any advertising that could inadvertently appeal to the very young or vulnerable.
Darryl Bowman, Wonga’s marketing director, said: “As a responsible lender we believe removing our logo from children’s replica shirts and training wear is the right thing to do. We appreciate the club’s support in this matter.”
Newcastle United’s managing director, Lee Charnley, said: “We understand and respect Wonga’s position and are happy to support their decision.”
Chi Onwurah, the MP whose Newcastle Central constituency includes Newcastle’s ground, said she found it “distressing and depressing to see five-year-olds running round with Wonga on their chest on match days”. She welcomed the news, but added: “I want Wonga off all shirts, I want their relationship with Newcastle to end, unless they transform themselves into a very different company … Newcastle United supporters deserve better.”
Stella Creasy, the shadow consumer minister who has been a vocal campaigner against payday lenders, said it was time for the Football Association to set out rules on their relationships with clubs, similar to those it has for alcohol and gambling firms. “It’s interesting that Wonga has realised that it’s not appropriate to advertise these loans on clothes worn by people who aren’t even old enough to do maths lessons,” she said. “It does raise a question about what the FA is going to do.”
Michael Thewlis, of the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust, said: “This is welcome news and something we raised when we met Wonga’s representatives and the club 18 months ago. However, when we raised our concerns they were adamant that they would not produce children’s replica kit without the Wonga name.”
But he said the announcement was “tempered somewhat when you realise that these unbranded children’s shirts will not be available for another 18 months”.
The move came as the supporters’ trust launched a partnership with three credit unions to offer fans access to an alternative to payday loans.
The lender also sponsors Blackpool, although that deal is in its final year. It is understood that if the sponsorship is renewed the logo will also be removed from its children’s kit.