Is the Fall of Blackpool and Newcastle United the Dreaded Curse of Wonga?
At one time Wonga.com had their logo attached to the kits of Blackpool, Hearts and Newcastle United. There was always plenty of Wonga Football updates to keep track of through www.wongafootball.com. The initial contract was agreed with Blackpool in 2010 (>2015), Hearts followed in 2011 (>2014) and then came Wonga’s major Newcastle deal in 2013 (>2017). This 4 year contract was worth £24 million equating to £6 million per year. Jumping on to Blackpool’s kit during the 2010 season was a very savvy move. The Seasiders had just been promoted to the Premier League and they had bright orange shirts for the lender’s high impact blue logo to fit on to. Perfect for Match of the Day.
It was just a shame that they had a pretty shocking year, heading straight down after finishing 19th. It did look like they would spring back the next season and then came the big test in the Championship play-off final where they faced West Ham. They unfortunately lost 2-1. In 2012/13, they finished way out in the 15th spot whilst in 2013/14 they just scraped by in 20th. Their luck was finally out across 2014/15 when they finished 24th and were booted to League One (this was when Wonga’s contract ended). In the most recent season they went down yet again in 22nd. The Premier League to League Two… does it get much worse?
Well yes! Our local team (Stockport County) played in the Championship (when named the First Division) not a lifetime ago and today they play part-time in the National League North. Since Wonga joined Newcastle they have been placed 10th (13/14), 15th (14/15) and now 18th that means relegation; this will hurt that much more after losing that last survival place to local rivals Sunderland. Newcastle have been relegated before and they shot straight back up and so the chance is high that this will happen again. Still, relegation doesn’t feel right when recalling Kevin Keegan’s golden 95/96 season when they finishing 2nd. In the following year Keegan would go on to resign after a poor run of form.
The Hearts contract wasn’t that valuable and it left a sour taste when the Scottish club abruptly wanted out. Newcastle’s fall from top flight football hasn’t been disastrous since they are expected to jump quickly back. However, since being contracted to the short term lender they have got progressively worse (10th, 15th and 18th), so perhaps things could deteriorate further. Much will depend on them keeping Benitez and such star players as Townsend and Wijnaldum. Mitrovic fortunately wants to stay. Blackpool’s crash has been torturous for their fans. I think what really hurts is that West Ham play-off final where they had an amazing chance to enjoy another year in the Premier League.
Who knows what would have happened if they’d won that match? Their financials would have certainly been greatly improved that could have triggered a drastic change in fortune. West Ham on the flipside have just had an incredible campaign finishing 7th. So is the fall of Blackpool and Newcastle down to the dreaded curse of Wonga? As bizarre as that may sound, having a payday loan kit sponsor caused anguish with both sets of fans and their communities. Who recalls Cisse refusing to wear their shirt? Unsettled players and bitter fans surely causes cracks. The big question is whether Newcastle and Wonga are on good terms now? An extension would surely require The Magpies to fly next season.