Newcastle United’s home stadium will once again bear the name St. James’ Park, after the North England club reached an agreement with Wonga, its new sponsor, that allows for the club’s home to return to its historic and popular name. The stadium, currently known as Sports Direct Arena, will revert to St. James’ Park at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season, when Wonga’s sponsorship begins.
Newcastle management had rebranded the stadium Sports Direct Arena on a temporary basis to highlight that its naming rights were now for sale. However, as a gesture of goodwill towards fans, Wonga decided not to take advantage of the offer, preferring instead to revert its name to St. James’ Park.
Even so, Wonga, a short-term loan company whose name is a slang term for cash, is a controversial sponsor, because Newcastle is the biggest city in one of the poorest parts of England. The company offers short-term loans of up to $1,600, which are intended as an alternative to credit cards and personal loans. According to Reuters, the annual percentage rate on Wonga’s loans can exceed 4,000 percent. As such, many officials in Newcastle have called on club owner Mike Ashley to drop the deal.