Football fans protest about loan company

A number of football supporters’ groups have become concerned about the sponsorship of the sport by the controversial payday loans company Wonga.com. Fans of 18 separate clubs have called on the teams to cease carrying advertising or sponsorship from the company.

Fans wrote a letter to The Guardian alleging that, while Wonga operates a legal business in the UK, "their practices would not be allowed in most other European countries, or in most of the USA."

The letter was instigated by Northampton Town supporters Bob and Dan Ward. Their letter suggests to clubs that, "if they really wish to advertise short-term loans for their fans in these difficult financial times, then perhaps it would be better to give publicity to their local credit unions."

Much of the adverting sold at lower division grounds is not the direct responsibility of clubs, but is sold centrally by the Football League. That is not the case with Wonga’s direct sponsorships, with their logo emblazoned across the shirts of Blackpool and Heart of Midlothian.

Wonga referred The Guardian to a letter from a Blackpool supporter Daniel Hogg, who wrote: "Wonga's sponsorship of my team Blackpool has been great – I think they deserve nothing but praise for that, and I reckon football fans can make their own minds up about whether they respond to their advertising."

The Football League’s response, and that of clubs, will give some indication of the power of supporters to affect commercial interests. With clubs struggling for every penny of revenue, it’s likely that many will be reluctant to refuse a Wonga handout.

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