Wonga.com strip deal puts Hearts in the money

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HEARTS have announced a two-year deal with Wonga.com which will see the online loans company replace Ukio Bankas on the front of the team strips from the start of next season.

The company already sponsors Blackpool FC in the Barclays Premier League and FA Cup games on ESPN but the deal with the Tynecastle club represents its first foray into the game north of the Border.

"Hearts is a club with a great history and they are having a really strong season so we were very keen to support them when the opportunity came up," said Errol Damelin, chief executive of Wonga.com.

"The club shows real class on and off the pitch and we're excited about being involved from next season onwards."

Hearts were tight-lipped on how much the link-up will be worth to the club but managing director David Southern said he was delighted with the deal and hoped it would "deliver significant benefits to both parties".

As far as the football management team are concerned, those benefits could include extra finance for bolstering the playing squad ahead of the new campaign which will, they hope, include a run in Europe as well as the domestic cups as they try to build on this season's performance in the league.

"I'm not sure if this adds money to the coffers and allows us to bring in one or two more players but I'm sure the manager and the owner will have that in hand," said first team coach Gary Locke, who wants the squad to add to the good news by securing third place in the SPL. "It's a big deal for the club and shows we are moving in the right direction. It's a great day and hopefully we can add to the success of this sponsorship deal by doing a job on the pitch."

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