With not much transfer news in the black and white region of the North-East, it is a bizarre issue with a current Newcastle player and his club that is taking all the headlines. Papiss Cissé has taken objection to the clubs new shirt sponsor Wonga by refusing to wear the logo. This objection has escalated to the player not only training by himself, but not leaving with the rest of the club on the club’s pre-season tour of Portugal. Cissé, a devout Muslim, has previously stated in June that the new pay-day loan company’s way of doing business is against his faith. The player has suggested the alternative idea of wearing a charity logo on his shirt; however this request has yet to be accepted by the club. With a resolution not as yet forthcoming, it begs the question whether Newcastle would be willing to let the player go over the issue.
This is not the first time this summer that a pay-day loan company sponsorship has drawn attention with the footballing world. Championship club Bolton Wanderers were due to be sponsored by QuickQuid until fans intervened with a petition. The Bolton hierarchy decided to cancel the sponsorship deal to delight of Bolton fans. Cissé’s issue of not wearing a company’s logo is not an unprecedented one as Freddy Kanoute, whilst playing for Sevilla, opted to wear a plain shirt with no sponsor rather than bare the logo of betting company 888.com. A compromise such as this one is something that Cissé and Newcastle are yet to have come to. PFA deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes has spoken on the issue stating “if someone felt very, very strongly that it’s (wearing the logo) not compatible with their beliefs, then some sort of solution should be found.” This shows the PFA will be willing to back Cissé if Newcastle do not budge on the issue. Any attempts to move the striker on based on the issue would definitely receive negative press, so it beggars belief that Newcastle would be willing to do so.
However, looking at Cissé’s form last season, it could be feasible that this issue is being used to usher the striker out of St. James Park. The striker was in blistering form in his first season with 13 goals in 13 starts. Last season Cissé started the most games in the Newcastle squad with 35 starts, but could only manage 8 goals. There are suggestions Cissé was hit with the Premier League’s ‘Second Season Syndrome’ which has blighted many strikers in their second terms. This has seen Newcastle’s new Director of Football Joe Kinnear comment that the club need a new centre forward. So with plans being made to bring in a new forward, the sponsor issue could be used as a reason to ship Cissé out. Despite this Newcastle may be playing a risky game as no new signing has been mooted out as of yet and a Cissé departure would leave Shola Ameobi as the clubs only out and out striker as well as Yoan Gouffran and the promising Adam Campbell as the clubs only other striking options. Newcastle have lost two striking options in the last year with Demba Ba heading to Chelsea and Nile Ranger being released. If there is to be a Cissé departure, Joe Kinnear will have to act soon as the clubs pre-season tour will be ending soon so any signing will not have long to blend in with the squad.
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