By Claire West

Yesterday Newcastle United agreed a new four-year deal with wonga.com which will make the digital finance company the Club's lead commercial sponsor.

Speaking on behalf of Tax Research UK anti-poverty campaigner Richard Murphy has written to the club condemning the decision to align commercially with Wonga.

Murphy says:

"May I record my disgust at your having taken sponsorship from Wonga — a company that lends at more than 4,000% interest rates and which as a result consigns people to debt entrapment and deep poverty."

The Wonga deal is believed to be around £8 million a year and Allan Pardew defended the deal by saying;
"As manager of this football club I can only say that to have the best sponsorship deal we've ever had is a good thing."

Wonga have just launched a small business offering amidst criticism that the high cost of borrowing will only appeal to those businesses that are desperate for cash.

Errol Damelin, founder and CEO of Wonga said: "We're really proud to be involved with Newcastle United.It is one of the biggest and most important clubs in the UK by any measure and has a fantastic following around the world."

Commenting on the news Karen Reay regional secretary of Unite, the biggest union in the north east, said: "This is the day when Newcastle's owners sold this city's great footballing name for 30 pieces of tainted silver. Newcastle board must think again and kick Wonga into touch."