Payday lenders have been criticised by a Scottish Government minister and an advice charity which have backed a football team’s new campaign to highlight “the dangers of payday loans”.
Nairn County FC is launching a press campaign with video and matchday programme advertisements with advice on how to tackle lenders who offer quick cash at high interest rates.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) contrasted the campaign with “football clubs in the higher reaches of the game” who have taken sponsorship money from payday lenders, while Scottish Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing praised the Highland club for taking “the side of the good guys”.
Cash-strapped Edinburgh club Heart of Midlothian is sponsored by payday lender wonga.com which also sponsors English Premier League side Newcastle United.
Mr Ewing said: “The Scottish Government is concerned about the negative impact some payday and other high-interest lending can have on some individuals and is committed to working with partners to raise awareness of the range of alternatives available.
“Initiatives like this should go some way to encouraging individuals to take control of their loan and to seek help and advice when facing financial difficulties. It’s great to see a wee Scottish team like Nairn County on the side of the good guys.
“The Scottish Government will continue to engage with stakeholders from the money advice sector, credit unions, trading standards and the payday lending sector to discuss specific concerns relating to payday lending and identify how we can tackle these issues.”
Nairn CAB manager Gill MacLean said: “We all know that payday lenders have sponsored football clubs in the higher reaches of the game, but Nairn County have shown that clubs lower down the ladder are all about helping their communities, just like their local CAB.
“We hope we can say to football fans, and others, ‘You can take control of your loan. There are steps you can take, and we at the CAB can help you take them.’”
CAS chief executive Margaret Lynch said: “People across Scotland who find themselves saddled with payday loan debt need to know that help is at hand. We can show them how to fight back and take control of their debt, as this campaign says.
“It’s a terrific campaign and I think it will make a real difference to people’s lives, especially those who are experiencing the misery of crisis debt.
“I hope other football clubs across Scotland will follow Nairn County’s example and work with us to spread the word to their fans.
“We want anyone who has been treated badly by a payday lender to tell us about it. We need as much information as we can get, so we can confront the lending industry and press for change.”