Our Crack Tongue & Groove
Knowing the difference between right and Wonga
Later that same day I met up with some friends to go and watch Newcastle United play at St. James’ Park, standing, as usual, in The Gallowgate End. Despite feeling numb, I couldn’t miss the game - I wanted to be there – it’s something that lets me put all other worries on hold for 90 minutes; the one constant in my life.
And it still is: I’ve never considered jacking it all in despite the relegations, the broken promises and the ever increasing costs, but the news that the new team shirt sponsors are to be the loan company, Wonga, has left me seriously wavering when it comes to further commitment.
The firm is probably the UK’s best known “payday” outfit, so called because the majority of their loans are made to the working poor, people who often don’t have enough money to feed themselves, or their family, before payday arrives. There have also been reported cases of people not in work managing to secure loans with them. In short, their target audience are the poorest, the most vulnerable people in society, who are being asked to repay loans that work out at an astonishing APR of 4,214%.
And it’s certainly a great deal – for Wonga – who in the last financial year managed to more than triple their income to £184m. And with the current financial climate looking likely to get worse - a lot worse given the Tories’ war on the poor - things are certainly looking peachy for Wonga.
But can you think of a more egregious example of turbo charged capitalism at its most despicable? Wonga is a company that is completely and utterly socially useless; a company that can only make a profit by taking money directly from those in society who can least afford it. They contribute nothing to the UK except bigger debts and even more worry for people who are struggling to make ends meet, people who are under constant assault from the Tories, and the Tory press, who label them “feckless” and “scroungers”.
And now we learn that some £24m of Wonga’s profits are to be handed over to Newcastle United (no doubt to fund the wages of millionaire players) in a move which is breathtaking in its audacity to transfer cash from some of the poorest people in society to some of the richest.
In all my years supporting the team, they’ve not won a single trophy thanks largely to being terrible for most of the time, but I can forgive such terribleness – it’s almost part of the deal. What I’m finding it harder to forgive is this partnership. It has gone from beyond the merely terrible and into the realms of the obscene.