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Thanks for the car but you can keep Big Ron

West Brom is this week launching its Brum Brum product with the added inventive of a free car, a Rover 25. But it has decided to drop the idea of unveiling the product with the support of controversial football pundit Ron Atkinson.

Anyone who follows the beautiful game will understand the following footie-speak. And for those who don&#39t follow football – get a life!

Unless you&#39ve been on Mars for the past few days you will undoubtedly know of the controversy surrounding football pundit Ron Atkinson.

Imagine how West Brom and MG Rover felt when Mr Atkinson – better known as Big Ron or Mr Bo Jangles – referred to Chelsea&#39s Marcel Desailly as “a f*****g lazy thick n****r” on television, thinking recording had stopped.

West Brom had engaged the services of Big Ron to launch a marketing campaign for their Brum Brum deal whereby they give away a Rover 25 car with the mortgage.

As if the above comment was not bad enough, the venue of the launch – West Bromwich – has a significant non-white population.

The remark was made on ITV and broadcast live to the Middle East during Chelsea&#39s European Cup semi-final game played in Monaco last Tuesday.

Sixty five-year-old Big Ron can hardly feel over the Moon after such a gaffe. In fact Mr Bo Jangles must be sick as a parrot as he has been given the red card by both ITV from whom he was reportedly earning £200,000 a year and from the Guardian newspaper, which netted him some £50,000.

Atkinson was once manager of Manchester United, the team that has dominated my own life for over 50 years now. United fans will remember him for making some mistakes in his time at the club but none that compare with his remarks on Tuesday.

In terms of stupidity his outburst compares with the high street jeweller boss Ratner calling his own products “crap”. That remark cost Ratner millions and the latest public idiocy will no doubt have a huge effect on Atkinson&#39s bank balance.

I would have boycotted the West Brom promotional event this week if Atkinson had been attending. I needed reassurance that he would not be taking part in the launch and this was given to me by West Brom&#39s head of public relations, Brian Seymour-Smith. I applaud the decision made by West Brom to drop Atkinson and hope his antics and the ensuing media frenzy does not mar what is an inspired marketing idea.

Of course, Atkinson has tried to defend himself by stating he is not a racist and pointing out that he was one of the first football managers in the UK to use black players. However, it is my view that in using the language he used he has unwittingly exposed an underlying racial prejudice.

All that having been said, I have reviewed the Brum Brum mortgage and, taking everything into consideration, believe it to be a gimmick that is worthy of consideration.

The question most will be asking is – what is the redemption penalty attached? The penalty (sorry, no football reference intended) is 7% of the mortgage loan for a period of five years.

With a minimum loan of £90,000 this equates to £6,300 redemption – a chunk of cash somebody has to pay if they decide to switch lenders within the five-year penalty term. However, the mortgage is portable and a loyalty bonus – currently 0.75% off the SVR – may be available after the five years.

Other features include:

• SVR of 5.99% with 95% LTV and no MIG up to 90%

• Free mortgage protection for six months which is optional after the free period. There are no compulsory products attached to the mortgage

• Valuation costs up to £350 will be refunded on completion

• There is an arrangement fee of £395 that can be added on completion

• The car on offer is a Rover 25 1.1i three-door hatchback which according to my local Rover dealer sells for about £8,000.

The Brum Brum product is not available through intermediaries.

All in all, I predict there will be huge interest in this game and forecast a win for West Brom. The product and the gimmick are good ideas but it&#39s a pity about the marketing near-own goal.


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