A Wearside MP says SAFC's new deal with a short-term loan firm could put the club's community work at risk.
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson has written to the club's chief executive Martin Bain after the recent announcement of a sponsorship deal between the football club and Satsuma Loans, a branch of financial services company, Provident Financial.
In her letter, she says the club's positive community engagement work could be undermined by working with a company which has a representative APR of 1,575% and that investigation of Satsuma’s website shows a £1,000 short-term loan would mean paying back £431.04 in interest over 13 weeks, rising to to £990.04 if borrowed over a year.
"When the announcement of SAFC and Satsuma Loans was brought to my attention and after further investigation of Satsuma Loans repayment schemes, it was clear that I needed to write to the Chief Executive of SAFC. to get further clarification and rationale for this decision," said Mrs Hodgson.
"Payday lenders can be a dangerous way of pushing people already financially squeezed into debt, and sometimes even further into debt, when they advertised such quick loans with the sting in their tail of high interest repayments.
"Personal debt is a problem here in Sunderland and for our top sports team to be working with them needs further explanation about why this decision was come to, and what Satsuma Loans will be doing to work with our local communities."
Provident denies being a payday lender.
Announcing the deal earlier this month, SAFC commercial director Gary Hutchinson said: "From the first time we met with Provident, we were impressed with their commitment to positive and proactive engagement.
"This ethos mirrors our own approach as a football club steeped in its regional identity and heritage. We are very much looking forward to working closely with Provident and their Satsuma team."
Mark Stevens, Managing Director at Provident’s Consumer Credit Division said: "We are very excited to become an official partner of Sunderland AFC.
"We have already developed a great relationship with the people behind the scenes and we are delighted to be working with a fantastic club, which is a part of the fabric of the city and absolutely represents the ethos of what we aim to represent as a business and as a partner; that is to support local communities and provide a great experience for the fans.
"I’ve been to the Stadium of Light many times as a football fan and it truly is one of the best arenas to watch our great game. We very much look forward to being a part of match days with our innovative activities and supporter engagement initiatives, and joining the club’s journey, on and off the pitch, over the coming years."
Satsuma's website carries a number of pledges to customers including not to charge extra fees or charges, not to change the rate of interest throughout a loan period and only ever ask to ask cusotmers to pay back what was originally agreed.
The Echo approached SAFC for comment but understnads the club has not yet received Mrs Hodgson's letter.
Provident factfile - what the company says:
"Provident Financial has been supplying credit products in the 'non-standard' credit market for over 130 years.
"Satsuma Loans updates the long-standing, well-recognised customer benefits of home credit for the 21st Century demands of modern-day customers. Online payday lending, which we do not provide, has a number of criticisms.
"As a responsible lender it‘s really important to make sure we get the loan that’s right for you. In doing so we also need to make sure you can afford the loan and that your repayments are manageable.
"Responsible use of Continuous Payment Authority (used on one day a week only, and once only on that day, at a time agreed with the customer) Satsuma Loans may fall within the Financial Conduct Authority’s strict definition of highcost credit, however, it has been carefully designed to solve the problems of other highcost credit products and to meet the particular needs of its customers."