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Branded by the devil

ESPN staff
October 12, 2012
Newcastle's new shirt sponsor has attracted controversy © Getty Images

This week saw Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley attract headlines once again, after he agreed a multi-million sponsorship deal with controversial money lender Wonga.com.

The short-term loan company, who charge high rates of interest to clients in need of cash, has plenty of critics for its operation - and many of them came out this week to complain about the Magpies' latest deal.

So, while carefully skirting any judgment of the Wonga.com process (after all, you never know when you might need to borrow £20 only to repay £3452 a week later), we look at ten other 'ill-advised' shirt sponsorship deals from football's recent history:

Club America - Bimbo

We have nothing to suggest that the players for Club America are particularly stupid - but the sponsor on their shirts for the last few years nevertheless brands them that way. Apparently in South America Bimbo are a major bread company - the first, even, to bring sliced bread to the area. So at least that's proof that the inventor of the best thing ever (after all, sliced bread is always compared to every great thing that has come since) at least got rich off their invention.

Clydebank - Wet Wet Wet

The famous Scottish band took a break from spending that 'Love is All Around' money on various types of vitamins to help out the Scottish club ... by branding their deeply uninspired band name across the club shirts. The fact the sponsorship doubled up as an accurate weather forecast for matchdays at Kilbowie Park was always considered a welcome coincidence.

FC Nuremberg - Mister Lady

'Mister Lady' is presumably considered a hilariously ironic name in Germany, a country that once believed David Hasselhoff was a huge popstar in a naive, hugely concerning kind of way.

Anyway, the clothes company (which, judging by its website, provides wares for both misters and ladies) briefly sponsored the Bavarian club Nuremburg for a spell in the 2000s - no doubt providing opposition players (and fans) with some incredibly easy taunts during matches.

West Brom - No Smoking

For the 1985-86 season, the Baggies had a no smoking sign emblazoned across their shirts, for a reason that we can only presume has been lost in the sands of time. Why were the Baggies so concerned for the health of their fans? Why did they feel it was so important to spread the message of smoke-free living?

Nowadays, of course, the club is sponsored by a betting company, another equally addictive pastime. What happened to the club's decision-makers between the 1980s and now, to make them lose any altruistic concern for how their fans live their lives? When did they become so heartless?! We blame Gary Megson...

AC Milan's sponsorship deals in the 1980s weren't always the best... © PA Photos

Livingston - Intelligent Finance

This link-up is notable for only one reason - and one you might not have to be a genius to guess. Yes, shortly after inking a deal with financial services advisors 'Intelligent Finance', the Scottish club went into administration. You couldn't script it any better...

Scarborough - Black Death Vodka

Maybe back in the 90s everyone was more tolerant about ridiculously-named drinks - but we can't see too many clubs going for such link-ups these days (good luck to the Lancaster FC director who, in light of recent events, pens a sponsorship deal with 'Stomach-Destroying Cocktails').

Unfortunately, there are no sales details available to tell us whether loyal fans switched to Black Death Vodka in light of their club's agreement, or continued with their traditional post-match tipple of three litres of White Lightning and a kip on the sea front. We suspect the latter.

AC Milan - Pooh Jeans

The storied Italian club linked up with the questionably-named clothing company for much of the 1980s, in what is widely regarded as the first football shirt sponsorship deal ever. The deal begs so many questions - not least of which is why did anyone ever think a jeans company called 'Pooh Jeans' was a good idea?!

What was their advertising slogan - 'Don't wear any old jeans - wear Pooh Jeans'? I'm sorry, but even Don Draper would have struggled to market those...

Deportivo Wanka - Deportivo Wanka

All we are saying is, if you have a team name that so lends itself to schoolboy giggles (if you didn't first discover this team on Championship/Football Manager and then spend the next five minutes in fits of uncontrollable laughter, I don't know what to tell you, you haven't lived), then surely the last thing you do is then brand that name in big letters across the front of your shirt?! That's what emblems (small, out-of-the way emblems) are for!

Denmark - Dong

Our concerted efforts not to lower the tone in this list falls apart - but we prefer to blame the Danes. Between 2004 and 2012, the 1992 European champions had a link-up with 'Dong' - right around the time the phrase came to be slang for quite something else entirely. Yes, this is a puerile entry. Yes, we are suitably ashamed.

Barcelona - Qatar Foundation

Let us put it this way, if anyone put a bet on the Catalan giants breaking their respected 'no sponsors on the shirt' rule for a shadowy Middle Eastern group called the 'Qatar Foundation' they would now be extremely rich.

Possibly richer than the Qatar Foundation itself, although that is somewhat doubtful considering the sums they must have paid Barca to get their brand pressed onto their shirts - simply to remind football fans around the world that Qatar is a country and, erm, it has foundations and stuff.

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