English soccer club Bolton drops deal with payday lender

LONDON (Reuters) - English football club Bolton Wanderers have dropped plans for a shirt sponsorship deal with short-term loan company QuickQuid after protests from fans and politicians.

The club announced the two-year deal only a week ago but issued a statement on Wednesday, saying: "Whilst we anticipated some negative responses from the initial agreement, we underestimated the adverse reaction to the sector of business in which the sponsor operated."

The backlash underlines growing public concern about the activities of "payday lenders" that offer short-term loans that are repaid when borrowers receive their wages.

Such companies have expanded rapidly since high street banks restricted short-term credit after the 2008 financial crisis. However, they have been heavily criticised for charging sky-high interest rates and treating customers poorly.

Bolton Chairman Phil Gartside said the club, relegated from the Premier League last year, did not want to alienate supporters and jeopardise strong ties with the local community in the northern English town.

"We don't want our commercial relationships to come between us and our community, and neither does QuickQuid," Gartside said in a statement.

QuickQuid is not the only payday lender that has tried to use football sponsorship to boost its brand.

Wonga, one of the biggest companies in the sector, will have its name on Premier League Newcastle United's black and white shirts from next season. It has already sponsored Championship club Blackpool and Scottish Premier League team Hearts.

Bolton have moved swiftly to find a new backer and will be sponsored for the next two seasons by FibrLec, a new sustainable energy company linked to the local university.

(Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by David Goodman)

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