Jose Mourinho may be the happy one, giving us a press conference that provided front page yet slightly more tame quotes than usual but fear not, there is trouble brewing in football and a couple of high profile clubs are at the very heart of it.
Mike Ashley may have felt the wrath of die hard Geordie fans when he changed St James’ Park to the short lived Sports Direct arena but given the storm he is now facing after choosing Wonga as a shirt sponsor, that could well be a time he would like to go back to.
On the surface it seems quite right that players and indeed fans and the media are outraged and fully prepared to make a stand against using a payday loan firm – essentially a legalised loan shark – as a shirt sponsor and brand to be associated with a club that fans adore and respect, yet is the outcry as justified as it initially seems?
Only an idiot would call the situation ideal but is it really that far removed from using a company that promotes alcohol or gambling on the shirt? Of course, it has created rather an unfortunate issue with the club’s Muslim players – Cisse in particular due to the conflicting religious beliefs in a situation that threatens to echo the Kanoute refusal to wear gambling firm bet 888 on his Sevilla shirt.
It is note worthy at this point to remind ourselves that Ben Arfa and also Cheick Tiote have no objections to wearing the shirt and given Cisse happily wore one bearing the Virgin money logo not so long back – a company who also breached Sharia Law, cynics are certainly asking if he is just looking for a way to force a move from the club.
Considering his ‘come and get me plea’ to Manchester United not so long back, that would not come as a total shock. As Frank Ribery knows only too well, using his religion as an excuse when it suits after being doused in Champagne and not when using an under aged prostitute will only wash so far with fans.
Newcastle are of course not the only club to use a payday loan firm – Bolton are also getting in on the act and despite some local protests and mild unrest amongst fans, are plodding ahead with their new sponsor shamelessly.
Both Newcastle and Bolton will tell you that using such sponsors is a monetary decision and clubs have to find sponsorship from somewhere – promoting the afore mentioned alcohol or gambling is not ideal either but we can’t all have a world famous airline giving us millions a season to Fly Emirates or indeed the money of the middle east relegating Unicef to the back of our shirts. Football is a business and if a firm offers decent money, just how far do the financial benefits take precedent over the social obligations?
We at Soccerbible spend more time than most analysing new kits and their aesthetics and of course it is difficult to miss a sponsor smack bang in the centre of a shirt which is why it then begins to resonate with that club – and now it is going one step further. Stadiums are now being given sponsors names more than ever before and that is causing some consternation around football and especially in Madrid.
After the club signed a megadeal with Emirates (proudly displayed on their new shirt) horrified fans were panicking about the prospect of their beloved Santiago Bernabeu being branded the Emirates Bernabeu as part of the deal and to push through remodelling plans.
Again we have to ask just how far can deals like this be taken. If a club is not backed by a mega wealthy owner or indeed has a huge brand name like Manchester United who can easily afford to have a sponsor like Chevrolet offer a £375 million, then are resorts such as less than desirable but lucrative sponsorship deals and ill advised pre season tours to drum up shirt sales now a necessity?
Even mega rich owners are panicking with the long lamented by everyone except Arsene Wenger FFP regulations and some deals are just too good to turn down. Of course should Ashley decide another naming change is in order and fans now have to frequent the Wonga Park on a Saturday afternoon, calling that decision ill advised would be like calling the Titanic maiden voyage a minor boating accident!
By: Rebecca Knight – @RebeccaKnight01