By Matthew Bazell
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Outrage had been expressed this week regarding the loan shark firm Wonga’s sponsorship of Newcastle United. An MP even went so far as to say that he’ll never set foot in St James Park whilst Wonga were displayed on the club’s shirts. Yes this choice of sponsor is amoral, but at the same time people are very selective when it comes to protecting the game from wrongdoing.
One look at the wages that Newcastle United players are on will give you an answer as to why football prostitutes itself to any sponsor regardless of ethics. High rate loans and footballer wages are built on the same principle which is greed. Why not boycott St. James Park because of obscene player contracts that rob the common fan out of hundreds of pounds per year?
Wonga’s investment as sponsors of a football club is just a tiny drop in the ocean, or in this case a large pool of the most rancid murky water imaginable. From the 1990s onwards the game in this country turned its back on the same social demographic of people who founded the great names that are now marketed as brands and products. It was the ultimate betrayal to the professional game’s corner stone. But that was accepted; if people can’t afford football anymore, plenty of others can, so on with the show. A typical game now has gambling sponsors on the players’ shirts, flashing gambling messages on the digital touchline hoardings and Ray Winstone encouraging you to piss your money away during the halftime break. Where are the questions into the appropriateness of such overbearing temptation?
Chelsea’s success in recent years is built on the stolen oil wealth of an entire nation and if you look at the shady characters who own British football clubs many of them have obtained their wealth in trades that are known for appalling working conditions. Some diamond geezers have been about in recent years if you get my meaning. The modern fan base of a club would accept Ming the Merciless as owner if he promised more investment in the team.
The irony is that Blackpool FC, for the past few years, has had Wonga on the shirts and it went by unquestioned. With Wonga if you borrow £200, you’ll have to pay back around £265. £65, my God that could have gone to pay for a ticket to a Grade A game! In fact, maybe some people use loan sharks because attending football’s put them in the red, along with some bad bets that Ray Winstone goaded them into. Shame on just Wonga or is the whole game morally bankrupt? The best thing you can do is accept the vulgarity of modern football for what it is, laugh at it, then reject it.
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Matthew Bazell is the author of 'Theatre of Silence' Which you can buy here in paperback or on Kindle