Newcastle United fans have criticised the club's decision to enter into a sponsorship deal with loan company Wonga.

The Magpies confirmed last week that a four-year deal had been struck with the loan shark worth £24m over four years, £1.5m of which will be invested in the club's academy and foundation scheme.

Furthermore, Wonga, in attaining the shirt-sponsorship rights, have opted to return to the original stadium name of St James' Park, reversing a decision in 2011 taken by the Newcastle hierarchy to name the ground the Sports Direct Arena, in an attempt to sell naming rights for the ground.

But while the stadium name alteration has been well received, two fifths of the 1,000 plus supporters surveyed by the Newcastle United Supporters Trust are unhappy with the partnership and the nature of Wonga's business, which preys on the financially stricken and demands an annual interest rate of 4,214%.

Newcastle United fans
Toon supporters are unhappy after the club secured a sponsorship deal with Wonga.

Michael Thewlis, a NUST board member said: "It is clear from the initial results from our survey that this isn't a simple black or white issue and that there are many factors impacting on fans' opinions about this deal.

"Fans taking part in our survey understand that the Club needs to attract commercial sponsors to support the development of the Club and that the reported £6m per year is a good financial deal.

"However, despite the ground formally reverting back to St James' Park, fans are disappointed that the Club has not attracted a sponsor that enhances Newcastle United profile and is not the type of premium brand previously associated with the Club.

"Even among fans who support the deal, this disappointment is further exacerbated as the Club has chosen to associate itself with a company that charges very high rates of interest for loans targeted at some of the least well-off members of society."

The deal is the latest move from owner Mike Ashley which has caused discontent among Toon supporters, after his purchase of the club coincided with a lack of investment in the transfer market, a raft of big-name sales and relegation from the Premier League.

However, last season's fifth place finish in the top flight, which saw Newcastle qualify for the Europa League, has improved relations between fans and the board, while the club's frugality in the transfer window has resulted in several shrewd signings.

But fears are rife that the low-key announcement of the deal with Wonga was a thinly veiled attempt to downplay the significance of the deal, such was the controversy surrounding the new sponsors.

"Fans are genuinely appreciative of the steps that Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias have taken in the past year or so in stabilising the Club both on and off the field," Thewlis added.

"They are happy that the new owner has given the Club their first top five finish since Bobby Robson was manager; that we are competing in European competition for the first time since Glenn Roeder was in charge; that they have bought and sold wisely in the transfer market; and put in place a more realistic and sustainable wage structure at the Club.

"The Trust and the vast majority of fans surveyed are not anti-Ashley or anti-Llambias. As a Trust, we want to work with the Club in a constructive manner - and the fans support us in that aim.

"But trying to pretend that this is a great deal for the Club and its supporters only inflames what is an already difficult relationship.

"In the survey, many fans expressed their disbelief that the Club continues to treat them in such a high-handed way and continues to shoot itself in the foot and take the gloss off the achievements they have made in the past couple of years."