Belfast Telegraph

Law protects Newcastle United's Wonga deal

By Martin Hardy

The Football Association is likely to discover today that it will not be able to put financial companies under the same umbrella that covers gambling and alcohol advertising, which is not allowed on children's replica football shirts.

The FA general secretary, Alex Horne, admitted on Tuesday that he had reservations about the four-year sponsorship deal announced between Newcastle United and the short-term loan company Wonga.

"We are talking to the leagues on Friday about it," he said. "If you consider it as in the category of things that are inappropriate for children like gambling and alcohol, it feels like it is in that category to me."

However, there is no restriction on the limit of annual percentage rate (which for Wonga would be 4,212 per cent) in this country, unlike France, where the ceiling is 21.64 and Germany, where the limit is 16.4 per cent. That means that Wonga cannot be excluded under the advertising standards code from the lucrative children's replica market because doing so would entail a blanket ban on all financial companies, which would cover the likes of Standard Charter at Liverpool and even the Barclays Premier League itself, for which logos can be bought to fix on to children's shirts.

Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, has led a campaign for two years to cap interest but until that becomes law, differentiating between finance companies will prove too grey an area for football.

Four of Newcastle's most high-profile Muslim players, Demba Ba, Papiss Cissé, Cheick Tioté and Hatem Ben Arfa could choose not to wear the Wonga logo on their shirt if they adhere to Sharia law, which says that Muslims cannot benefit from lending money.

Belfast Telegraph


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