Crying foul

NEWCASTLE United may be fighting on the unaccustomed battleground of the former Division Two, but they have a long way to go before they sink quite so low as club shirt sponsor Northern Rock.

Indeed, the public opprobrium in which this harbinger of the credit crunch is held makes it somewhat surprising that the club has signed a new 10m deal with the now state-owned bank.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It was mismanagement at Northern Rock, after all, that caused the first run on a bank in this country for more than 100 years and led to the then unthinkable scenario of nationalisation. However, as with the other now publicly owned banks, which seem intent on retaining the trappings of their former glories, such as huge bonuses, Northern Rock has failed to grasp the profound nature of this change. Since the bank was split into two this month, its toxic assets hived off into a so-called "bad bank", its managers may believe that they are now entitled to behave as if nothing has happened and to pursue deals such as the Newcastle United sponsorship.

Yet, however much Northern Rock may be looking forward to its envisaged return to private ownership, the fact remains that it is still dependent on public largesse. Indeed, were it not for public money and the guarantees that accompanied it, it is likely that the entire banking sector would have collapsed.

The very least that banks should do, therefore, is to look after taxpayers' cash, rather than fritter it away on extravagant sponsorships, until they have reached the point when they can once again pay their own way.