Modern Football Is All Wonga!
By Matthew Bazell
Shirt sponsors reflect the moral bankruptcy of the game today
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 would 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, for the past few years, Blackpool FC 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 has 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.
Matthew Bazell is the author of Theatre of Silence: The Lost Soul of Football
15th October 2012
User Comment and Reaction
User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.
northbank123 8:14am 15th Oct 2012
These Wonga fellas certainly seem to have generated a huge amount of interest. - Post No. 29455
Ron 9:30am 15th Oct 2012
The 'game' has been morally bankrupt for decades fella and the Toon never started the decline, however the choice of sponsor more than suits the Clubs owner! - Post No. 29456
Caggie 9:55am 15th Oct 2012
Didn't Wonga sponsor Blackpool when then were in the premier league? Or am I getting my loan companies mixed up? - Post No. 29457
The Real World 10:31am 15th Oct 2012
Haven't confirmed this myself, but I've seen someone comment that 8 out of 20 of the teams in the league are sponsored by betting companies. As appalling as that is, it's just the natural evolution of professional sports teams when gambling is allowed as much freedom as it is. As much as I hate to admit that my uncle (the conspiracy theorist) is right, I'm starting to believe that match fixing and paying off refs is probably as common as p!ss on a public toilet floor. There's really only one solution: Ban all sports betting. Only a really naive person (and i count myself among those) would hold on to belief that the game is squeaky clean and that some of the gazillions of pounds that float around in the gambling industry isn't being used to buy off people. Cmon, if players can hold their teams ransom when their contracts are up for renewal and demand insane money, you think a few of the less principled ones (in that group of people whose principles are already so weak) wouldn't take a few hundred thousand to play poorly or miss a sitter? It's a cruel and ugly world we've allowed to be created. Ban sports betting! - Post No. 29458
Any Old Iron 12:08pm 15th Oct 2012
In recent times everything to do with smoking has been curtailed, marginalised. Perhaps, the same should apply to gambling advertising. Or, should we just indulge ourselves and say, have Benson & Hedges, or Dunhills emblazoned across clubs shirts. In Arsenal's case it could be Gauloise's brands! - Post No. 29459
Dan h 12:27pm 15th Oct 2012
Walk down most high streets you see plenty of shop space to rent.The only companies thriving on the high street during this dead decade are poundshops,pawnbrokers & betting shops! Like previously posted so many clubs have shirt sponsorship of betting firms but we all have bookmakers inside our grounds! - Post No. 29460
maguiresbridge gooner 14:25pm 15th Oct 2012
Yes people can be very selective i'm sure loads of reasons could be found for a boycott we could find a few ourselves like you mention high wages a good example.Highest ticket prices in the country another as for the MP he'll not be going into the ground to support his team for quite a while that's if he went very often in the first place.We don't know who our sponsors will be in the future if emirates pull out it's safe to say we wouldn't be to worried if the money was invested in the right places.Your right you just have to look around our own stadium on match days to see how many different ways we're been urged to part with our hard earned that's after we've already paid in not that it's much of a surprise because as we already know our own club are very fond of their Wonga. - Post No. 29461
Fred Beardsley 16:32pm 15th Oct 2012
Someone should tell Matthew Bazell about the perils of repeatedly writing the same article. Also the irony of writing an article moaning about advertising when your closing sentence screams 'Please buy my book' - Post No. 29462
Big Andy 16:56pm 15th Oct 2012
Great article, although I don't know why everybody's got so worked up about Wonga. Recently we've had entire football competitions sponsored by alcohol companies. Football stopped being a sport decades ago. It'n now just another immoral money-making business in this wealth-obsessed country. - Post No. 29463
The Hampshire Gooner 17:03pm 15th Oct 2012
Couldn't agree more with the message of this article. Turn on sky sports news and it is like one big gambling advert these days. I have stopped visiting a very popular Arsenal blog recently myself as it is impossible to read it without seeing odds for upcoming Arsenal matches being flashed infront of your eyes every two seconds by Barry Benders pals at Paddy Power. What message does that send out to younger impressionable fans? A trip down wonga lane in years to come for them perhaps? For me gambling companies are no better than drug pushers, they prey on people with problems and make peoples lives harder to manage than what they need to be. Scum in my eyes. - Post No. 29464
Rob 17:11pm 15th Oct 2012
Short, sharp and pretty damning article. But I'll be blowed if I can find any bit of it that's wrong. - Post No. 29465
Der Projekt ist Kaput 7:43am 16th Oct 2012
Agree absolutely with the sentiment, although I would say not all 'customers' of Wonga are greedy - some are simply desperate for cash in the short term and dealing with these despicable companies is the only option for them. Gambling has, of course, become horribly endemic in modern football. Watching satellite TV now means you're practically treated as a punter rather than a viewer. Although sadly this can be also said of good old Aunty beeb, too. It seems to me that it has become common to hear a BBC pundit/commentator say 'Well, Gary/Stevo/Lawro/whoever - you'll get odds of such and such for an away win today. Worth a punt?' It's as if gambling is not only sanctioned, but is also part of the football package - something for all the family to enjoy. 'Oh, how we all laughed when the bailiffs came round to chuck us out, 'cos Dad had spu*ked all his wages on a ridiculously risky gamble planted in his mind by the half-time revolving fat head of Ray Winstone. Now, where's that number for Wonga....?' - Post No. 29466
Gotang 12:44pm 16th Oct 2012
Well at least the Newcastle players will be giving it 4107% in every game from now on ! - Post No. 29467
exiled&dangerous 17:13pm 16th Oct 2012
Gotang, that was brilliant! As mentioned before though, football sold its soul years ago, why should any of this surprise us now? - Post No. 29468
Rocky RIP 22:04pm 16th Oct 2012
I see Arsenal have won an award for customer service. The report continually uses the word customer. I won't debate the value of treating people well or whether we deserve the award, but would like to re-iterate that if you treat fans as customers they behave like customers. ie. they demand value for money, show little 'brand loyalty' and will feel a greater right to complain. - Post No. 29469
TheManOnTheTube 10:28am 17th Oct 2012
At least for the crazy enough fan to head North to St. James's Park we won't have to enter a stadium that was sponsored by that company with the bad TV adverts, and even worse trumpets on the ads.. Think of it that way! - Post No. 29471
maguiresbridge gooner 12:40pm 17th Oct 2012
TMOTT you never know mate with our lot if there's profit in it anything goes. - Post No. 29476
20th August 2014
Online Ed: Goalless away draw in Turkey