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Wonga Dispute Causes Papiss Cisse Rift

There have been many decisions made by the board at Newcastle United that have baffled, perplexed, stumped, and even angered the fans surrounding St James’ Park.

Decisions like renaming the stadium, sacking Chris Hughton, selling Andy Carroll (although looking back on it, that wasn’t a bad bit of business), and lately, the change of shirt sponsors from Virgin Money to Wonga.com.

For those of you who don’t know, Wonga.com is a money lending company, specifically designed to prey on the poor and desperate, and then charge extortionate interest prices, and although they dress it up as fast and easy, it can get people into severe debt.

And by spending roughly £6m a year on their sponsorship deal with Newcastle United, they have long standing advertisement in a highly populated area of the country. One player who has taken serious exception to this partnership is talisman Papiss Cisse.

The top goal scorer for Newcastle last season is a devout Muslim, and wearing a shirt with the Wonga logo on it would be going against his religion, breaking Sharia law by promoting the controversial money lending company.

And with Cisse not joining the squad with its pre-season foray into Portugal, the relationship with the club appears to be strained at the moment. But will this dispute lead to Cisse packing his bags and moving to a different club? I’m not so sure.

As has been stated, Cisse is not too happy with the club at the moment, but as of right now, they have not explored any other avenues, such as Cisse having a charity sponsor on his shirt, or having a shirt that does not include the Wonga logo.

Both of these options would be acceptable, as Fredi Kanoute played for Sevilla with a non-sponsored shirt while they were sponsored by a betting company.

One interesting thing about the whole situation is that Cisse did not complain in the slightest, at least not in the public eye, about having to wear the Virgin Money shirt, and banks do provide loans, albeit with not as much interest at Wonga seeks on their scheme. So what has changed now? Is it that he genuinely believes that he shouldn’t wear a Wonga shirt? Or is it that maybe he has been seeking a new contract for a few months, and is creating an uproar to try and get a little extra pay in his pocket?

Either way, other Muslim players such as Cheik Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa haven’t said anything about the new sponsorship deal, and as far as I know, will be featured in the kit next season.

However, if Cisse has truly had enough, Anzhi Makhachkala are very interested in buying the £15m rated player. While not on his hottest form last season, along with most of the Newcastle squad, Cisse has proven a useful player, and at times, prolific.

If Cisse was to leave the club, Alan Pardew has been vocal in his interest in bringing in at least one more striker, seemingly likely to be Darren Bent, or Loic Remy, both of whom I believe to be bad transfers for the club.

Darren Bent is nearing 30, and from what I understand, would be against the club’s transfer policy that signings have to be under 27, as they have to be considered value for money by Newcastle’s owner Mike Ashley, with the ability to be able to sell them on if the price is right.

If Bent signs for Newcastle, he will be at least 31 or 32 when he leaves, which would leave very little of the reported £8m fee for the striker to be recouped. Remy is an entirely different kettle of fish.

A player that has shown a lack of loyalty already, as well as an upcoming sexual assault charge, which could lead to jail time, would be a disastrous move for the club, especially if he’s convicted.

To sum up, the Newcastle board need to stop being stubborn and allow Cisse to have a blank shirt.

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