Pardew: Wonga can get Newcastle into the top four

The boss labelled the deal as the best the club has ever had, while Shola Ameobi believes it will add stability along with recent eight-year contracts given to the coaching staff
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew insists the club's new sponsorship contract with Wonga gives them the tools to challenge for the Champions League places in the Premier League.

The four-year deal, reportedly worth around £8 million annually, has been criticised due to the payday loan company's business model, but the switch will also see the Sports Direct Arena given back its original title of St James' Park - a move that has won over many fans.

Pardew says he is sure the partnership will be a success and the catalyst for the club to push for the top four, while revealing he questioned Wonga's South African owner, Errol Damelin, before the deal went through to make sure everything was in order.

"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," the 51-year-old told reporters.

20/1 Newcastle are 20/1 with William Hill to finish in the top four this season
"It's about building the first team and it's about having the financial muscle to start improving the academy – that's an area where we've lagged behind some of the senior clubs. Now there's no reason why we can't be one of those top-four clubs, especially on an organisational front.

"I listened to the owner and their customer satisfaction levels are higher than any other bank or lending facility. When Wonga have been involved in football clubs they've been very successful."

Pardew then urged fans to take Championship side Blackpool, who are currently sponsored by Wonga, as reason to not be alarmed by the revelation, before insisting many similar companies are involved with other high-profile football clubs without attracting such criticism.

"If our fans do have any concerns maybe they should contact Blackpool supporters and see how they've done," he added. "The feeling I get is that Blackpool fans have been happy with Wonga and what they've done for the club.

"You see other companies, whether it is Standard Chartered, who are the same type of business as Wonga, or betting companies sponsoring football clubs and nothing gets said.

"When we get it we have MPs calling for all kind of things and it just seems strange."

Magpies' forward Shola Ameobi also hailed the deal, indicating the company have expressed an aim to help the club in the long-term, adding more stability to the recent eight-year contracts given to Pardew and his backroom staff.

"It's fantastic news," the 30-year-old said. "For me, speaking to the guys from Wonga I sensed that they want to help Newcastle turn into a club which brings young players through. That's so important – we need the sustainability involved in bringing players through.

"The chairman and manager have brought stability to the club and now Wonga want to help them take the next step. Speaking to the guys, it was certainly my impression that they want to make sure it's a fans' club. They want to see the whole community brought into things."