A group of fans have come together to collectively call on their local football clubs to drop their advertising of Wonga UK.
The fans, organised by Northampton Town supporter Bob Ward, are from 18 different clubs and they are pushing for the fans of another 60 other clubs to join them.
In a letter to The Guardian published today the fans claim that Wonga UK and other payday lenders would not be able to ply their trade in most other parts of Europe or the USA due to tighter regulations on the industry imposed in other countries.
“If they (the footbal clubs) 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,” says the letter.
It seems though that it is not up to the individual clubs but rather the Football League as they own the websites of the clubs and sell the advertising space nationally. Any club wanting to remove the Wonga UK advertisement, or any other advert from its site would lose out on the revenue generated by it because presumably they couldn’t replace the advert with another.
We live in a world full of advertising and most people would argue that the individual makes their own choice of how to respond to any advertising they are exposed to. Most of us are now ad blind – the brain has learnt to ignore them and besides, where do you draw the line? If we ban payday lenders from advertising in sport what about all the other less than white industries who throw bucket loads of cash at our clubs and in some cases are the main reason they are able to survive in the current financial climate?
Wonga UK currently have shirt sponsorship deals with Blackpool and Heart of Midlothian and spend an estimated £16 million a year in advertising. While asking Blackpool to give up their shirt deal should we also be asking Carling to withdraw their sponsorship from football because statistically 1 in 12 football fans will have a drink problem at some point in their lives?
What about the gambling addicted sports fan, what will we be doing for him? Should we ask our beloved clubs to turn away all those mega bucks the bookies and casinos pay them to display their flashing banners at us during the match just in case it happens to be in the line of site of someone with a gambling problem.
Perhaps we could segregate the seating inside football grounds but instead of doing it to keep the opposing fans apart it would be to keep potentially harmful advertising out of the sight of anyone showing any signs financial strife or addiction.
Wonga UK are no strangers to advertising controversy. Back in 2010 they received a warning from the Advertising Standards Authority for a TV campaign which “trivialised” the high interest rates applied to its payday loans. In January 2012 the Transport of London removed them from its list of sponsors and more recently PayPoint suspended all advertising from Wonga UK and other payday loan lenders until the Office of Fair Trading finishes their review into whether payday lenders are using advertising to target vulnerable lenders.
Find out why we don’t recommend Wonga UK by reading our Wonga review.