Wonga readies Newcastle sponsorship deal

SHORT-TERM lending company Wonga.com, led by Errol Damelin, is close to sealing a shirt sponsorship deal with Premier League football club Newcastle United that would see it replace Virgin Money from the start of the 2013-14 football season. Wonga, which already sponsors Championship side Blackpool United and Scottish outfit Hearts, is not interested in a stadium deal however, sources close to negotiations said. The firm’s contracts with Blackpool and Hearts expire next year, although it may continue to sponsor the two teams. Wonga, which has come under fire for the high levels of interest charged for borrowing money from the service, saw pre-tax profits more than treble last year to £16.9m. The company is believed to be readying itself for a New York initial public offering next year. Wonga declined to comment.