Amongst the upheaval of Newcastle United appointing Joe Kinnear as the new director of football at St James Park this weekend one story might have been missed; as Cheick Tiote joined Papiss Cisse in being rumoured to be unhappy with the clubs sponsorship from Wonga.com.
From the day the company described as ‘legal loan sharks’ took over as the sponsors of the club the idea it could potentially offend the teams Muslim contingent was immediately raised.
Cisse, Massadio Haidara, Hatem Ben Arfa and Tiote are reported to be followers of the Islamic faith and the principle of the Wonga business is apparently against the belief system of these players.
First of all let me preface this by saying one thing. I am not writing this article in any way from a religious standpoint. As an atheist I do not and will not understand the power of a person’s religious beliefs so would never dream of commenting on the decision a person made if it was genuinely based on feelings beyond my comprehension.
Instead I will look at this from a purely footballing and business perspective; and quite frankly Newcastle can use this Wonga debacle to their advantage.
The rumour mill churns to the tune that Cisse and Tiote are not keen on wearing the new Newcastle kits should they have Wonga emblazoned across them; and Mike Ashley is not ready to undermine the new business commitment so we have something of a stalemate.
Which could work out perfect for Ashley.
Recent rumours saw Cisse linked with a £17 million move to Russia and after a disappointing campaign last year; at the age of 28 that would be a great deal.
As for Tiote I am not entirely sure what happened to him last season. Watching him against Arsenal on the final day of the season was the culmination of a poor campaign which saw him struggle throughout.
If he was to lay down an ultimatum on his future then selling him would also be a great idea. He has also been linked with Russia and if Newcastle could get over £20 million for this duo it could be really good business; something Mike Ashley rarely passes up.
Reinvest that money into two quality replacements and Ashley can have his cake and eat it.
image: © machernucha