Reflecting on 'Cissegate' 24 hours on

Posted by Marc Duffy

Matthew Lewis/Getty ImagesPapiss Cisse is seeking more support from his Newcastle teammates.

It is over a day now since the news broke that Papiss Cisse would not be travelling to Portugal with the rest of the Newcastle squad because of his refusal to wear the logo of new club sponsors, the payday loan company 'Wonga', due to religious reasons.

- Cisse left out of Newcastle tour

It is ten months since the Wonga sponsorship news broke. I wrote about the split opinions the news brought at the time.

This story goes to show how time can dull anger towards a particular issue. There seems to be a lot less resistance to Wonga among the Newcastle support now -- perhaps this is also down to the companies decision to give St James' Park it's rightful name once more? In fact, the opinions of most people I've spoken to about this all take the view that the club should sell Cisse ASAP. Some of these people were vocally 'anti-Wonga' ten months back.

One widely aired theory is that Cisse is taking his stance to 'force a move' or 'force a new contract'. Really? No one at Newcastle needs to force a transfer -- they're all always for sale according to the club's transfer policy. As for trying to force a new contract? Force a stubborn owner to award an improved contract? Good luck with that one. I don't think either of these things is behind Cisse's decision.

The fact is, we don't really know. We are all taking small snippets of information and making pretty large assumptions.

What I do know is that with the state of the current squad Newcastle can't afford to sell him right now. If he was to leave before another striker comes in, Newcastle would be playing preseason games with Shola Ameobi and unproven youngster Adam Campbell as the main striking options, although Alan Pardew doesn't mind playing players out of position up there as he demonstrated last season.

The club have talked about needing a striker for a year -- yet none have arrived. (Yoan Gruffran isn't a classic striker) Why would it be any different if Cisse was to go? If there weren't options available at the right price they'd sooner not buy anyone.

Darren Bent could well be set to arrive on Tyneside but there is no way he is good enough now to replace Cisse, even with the poor form Cisse showed at times last season. Bent is 29 and injury prone -- not a great combination. I'd take a punt on Bent at a couple of million, but five or six? Not for me (I hope he goes on to prove me wrong.)

A few Newcastle fans have been quick to write Cisse off. There's no doubt he was below par at times last season but I dread to think who Newcastle's opening fixture would be against if they hadn't benefitted from his last-gasp winners last season.

So the circus rolls on with Ringmaster Joe Kinnear leading the way.

I'm hoping that Wonga, Newcastle United and Cisse can all reach an amicable agreement like Frederic Kanoute managed with Sevilla and 888 in 2006. After initially refusing to wear the shirt because of their sponsor, Kanoute finally agreed to do so as long as he did not have to participate in any 888 promotional activity.

Perhaps Kinnear can show his worth as Director of Football by facilitating this while bringing someone in to play alongside Papiss, not instead of him. Kinnear has received a lot of criticism since taking the job -- a positive outcome to Cissegate might go towards backing up his audacious claim that he's the best Director of Football in the Premier League!

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy


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