The presence of bookmakers in football is undeniable, and it’s unlikely that they’ll be eliminated from the scene any time soon. In a recent report, The Drum stated that only three teams in the English Premier League don’t currently have a gambling sponsor.
The BBC claims that, in the Premier League, half of the football clubs are sponsored by casinos. The Guardian also says that in the EFL Champions League, the number is 17 out of 24 teams.
Whether you play casino online or a sportsbook, you’re bound to find that sponsorships are standard in football. Join us as expert Samuel Richardson tells us more about these profitable relationships.
Concerns Surrounding Sponsorship
This year, government officials and non-profit organisations are focusing on the jersey as a point of contention. They argue that the uniform should be advert-free. In other words, it shouldn’t be a billboard for gambling operators.
The UK Gambling Commission has already made several efforts to control operators this year. MP Carolyn Harris supports the banning of bookmaker t-shirt ads.
The Gambling Commission, established in 2005, banned the use of credit cards at online operators in 2020. Many suspect they’ll enact further restrictions and draft a new Gambling Act. Despite these concerns, operators are likely to play a role in football for quite some time.
Bet365 and Betway are two of the major sponsors of football teams. There are many other clubs sponsored by operators like M88, ManBetX, Sportsbet.io, Mansion Bet, Paddy Power and Fun88. These bookmakers support English and even international organisations. Other operators that sponsor clubs include Marathon Bet, 1xBet, W88, SportPesa, LoveBet and Vbet.
The Guardian reported that in the 2019-20 season Premier League, clubs would earn £349.1m in t-shirt sponsorships. That amounts to more than a 10% increase from the previous year. These numbers could continue to rise if legislation against shirt sponsorships doesn’t pass.
Paddy Power is one of the players, along with Ladbrokes, that’s calling for an end to jersey ads. They ran an ad campaign against the use of shirt advertisements and later removed their logo from the Huddersfield Town and Motherwell FC kits.
The campaign caused an uproar among fans after the operator released a kit that violated FA guidelines and sported a massive Paddy Power logo across the shirt. They then removed the logo and are now calling for competitors to do the same.
In the Premier League, William Hill sponsors the Tottenham Spurs, Bet365 both Leicester City and Newcastle United, and Betway has West Ham United. These are just a few of the partnerships and teams admit that removing gambling sponsorship from football will be a gradual and challenging task.
The clubs sponsored by casinos have come to depend on these funds, especially after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown froze ticket sales and regular-season games for months. Many teams will likely continue their partnerships with casinos in a less public fashion.
Both the BBC and the Guardian report that Parliament will ban logos from jerseys. They support the national initiative to remove sponsor advertisements from the gameday kit. These newspapers have also been a platform for the concern that many government officials and organisations show over gambling addiction.
Carolyn Harris, chair of the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group, is confident that Parliament will remove operator logos from shirts by 2023. The ministry of consumer affairs in Spain has also expressed concern over the ubiquitous presence of operator logos in La Liga. It plans to remove them from jerseys by next season.
The Future of Gambling Sponsorships
The UK Gambling Commission and other authorities will continue to regulate their activities and enact further restrictions if operators fail to cooperate. Gambling has played a role in sports for many years, though, and it’s unlikely that any government will completely ban operators from participating in organised sporting events.