By Mark Baber
April 19 – The announcement that Wolverhampton Wanderers have agreed a deal with US headquartered payday lender Dollar Financial for their Money Shop brand to be the club’s main sponsor has stirred up controversy, with two local MPs and the heads of two local councils writing to the club’s chief executive Jez Moxey asking him to reconsider the deal in the interests of supporters and constituents.
Wolverhampton MPs Rob Marris and Pat McFadden, Roger Lawrence, the leader of Wolverhampton City Council and Pete Lowe, the leader of Dudley Borough Council have published open letters to Moxey following last Wednesday’s announcement that Money Shop was to become the “new main club sponsor of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club (Wolves) from the beginning of season 2016/17.”
In its announcement of the deal the club had stated that: “As part of this significant commercial agreement, The Money Shop’s brand will appear on Wolves’ first team and under-21s’ home and away shirts and on all technical training kit as well,” and that “the partnership between the two organisations will last for a minimum of three years.”
In their letter to Moxey, Lawrence and Lowe wrote: “We are writing to you as long time season ticket holders to express our concern and unease at the decision to allow The Money Shop to sponsor Wolves next season.”
“We believe organisations like The Money Shop can cause great harm by charging excessive interest rates on loans to individuals who can least afford them.
“We recognise that it is difficult for football clubs to find sponsorship but would ask you reconsider this decision.”
The Money Shop, which has a shop in Wolverhampton town centre, advertises loans including a representative example of a £200 loan which has a representative APR of 729%.
In October last year Dollar Financial agreed to refund £15.4 million to 147,000 customers after the Financial Conduct Authority said many had suffered as a result of the firm’s affordability checks, debt collection practices and system errors.
In his letter, Marris, a Wolves season ticket holder of 20 years standing, stated that: “The market in pay day lending has doubled in just four years exploiting the most vulnerable people in our society.”
He believes that the sponsorship decision “reflects badly upon the club and on our city.”
Recognising that the club is unlikely to backtrack on what is a done deal, the councillors suggest: “If this is not possible would you consider offering a series of advertisements for Wolverhampton City Credit Union and the Castle and Crystal Credit Union in Dudley, which provides loans at more reasonable rates, in the programme or around the ground during the season?”
Meanwhile a fan petition has been launched on change.org asking for reconsideration of the deal. “We strongly feel that that the Money Shop’s business practices, whilst legal, do not fit with the ethics of the football club, the supporters and the area it represents and believe that this is something that as custodians and employees of the club you should seek to consider and uphold where ever possible,” says the petition.
The petition had been signed by over 2,800 supporters.
Wolves Head of Marketing, Matt Grayson has replied to the uproar, saying, The Money Shop “have been part of Wolverhampton’s High Street since 2001, paying business rates to the City of Wolverhampton Council,” and that “they’ve also been a Stand Sponsor at Molineux since 2009.”
According to Grayson: “The Money Shop have 250 high street stores, are fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, and short term loans are just one part of a range of diversified financial products which they offer, such as travel currency and pre-paid cards.
“They are going above and beyond regulation in promoting financial transparency and the bigger main club sponsorship of Wolves gives them a significant media platform to champion this message.
“Although we respect the different views that have been put forward over the last few days, the Money Shop have signed a three year, legally binding deal with Wolves.”
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