ALAN Pardew vowed to turn Wonga.com’s cash into silverware at Newcastle United.
Pardew’s backed the club’s controversial new shirt sponsors, who have also paid for the stadium to revert back to being called St James’s Park.
The four-year deal, which kicks in from next season, was labelled the “biggest” in Newcastle’s history at yesterday’s launch by managing director Derek Llambias.
Wonga – a payday loans company which has come under fire for its high interest rates – will also invest “at least” £1.5m in the club’s Academy, which is seeking coveted Category One status.
And Pardew’s confident their investment in the club’s first team – and youth system – will bring long-term success to St James’s Park.
“I can only say as the manager of this football club, to have the best sponsorship deal we’ve ever had for four years, is a good thing,” Pardew told the Gazette. “Now it’s about building the first team, never take your eye off that.
“But it’s about having the financial muscle to start improving the Academy, where we’ve kind of lagged behind some of the senior clubs.
“There’s no reason why we can’t aim to be one of those (top-four) clubs, especially on an organisational front.
“We might not have the funds to buy the best young Brazilian, but we need to turn the ones we do attract, whether they’re local or from other areas or countries, into great players.”
Newcastle’s deal with Wonga – who also sponsor Blackpool and Heart of Midlothian – has attracted criticism given the nature of the firm’s business.
North East politicians are among those to have expressed disappointment at the move, while some supporters have questioned the ethics of their club being sponsored by a loan company. However, Pardew – who spoke to Wonga co-founder Errol Damelin before the deal was finalised – has backed the link-up.
“I listened to the owner, and their customer satisfaction levels are higher than any other bank or lending facility,” he added.
“But I can’t really talk for the company, if I’m honest, other than to say when they’ve been involved in a football club, they’ve been very successful.
“If our fans do have any concerns, maybe they should contact Blackpool fans and see how they’ve done.
“The feeling I get is that Blackpool fans have been happy with Wonga, and what they’ve done to improve the club.
“They’re an active sponsor – they want to be involved.”