Wonga deal signals the return of St James’ Park
Newcastle United will play their home games at St James’ Park once again after payday loans company wonga.com snapped up the naming rights to the stadium.
Owner Mike Ashley sparked fury in November last year when he revealed that the name of the stadium had been changed to the Sports Direct Arena, after his sportswear company, in a bid to showcase the potential for a ground sponsor. However, the stadium will go back to being known officially as St James’ Park after Wonga “listened to what the fans wanted”.
The Magpies yesterday announced a four-year sponsorship deal with Wonga – who also have partnerships with Hearts and Blackpool – which will see the company’s logo worn on their shirts from next season and £1.5million ploughed into the club’s Academy and the Newcastle United Foundation Enterprise Scheme. Wonga take over from Virgin Money, whose sponsorship has ended a year earlier than planned.
Newcastle left it to their new partners to reveal that they had also bought the naming rights to the 52,000-capacity stadium and, having listened to the reaction of fans when news of a potential agreement emerged at the weekend, have ended a controversial period in the club’s recent history.
A spokesman for Wonga said: “We saw what really matters to the fans. Football is an emotional sport and it is really important to them. We listened to what they wanted and that is why we did it.”
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