Situated on nearly every high street, betting companies have risen inconceivably in prominence across Great Britain. It’s difficult to conceptualise the world without football betting and how the Premier League would fare without the pivotal role in financial sponsorship.
The Evolution Of Premier League Betting Sponsorship
Not everyone will remember but 50 years ago betting was prohibited, and for the most part existed as underground activity on streets. Initially legalised, gambling was brought through by the introduction of the 1960 Betting & Gambling Act, and so-forth the establishment of betting shops flourished among the multitudinous of football supporters. Many of us have come to grips with the half-time advertisement on our televisions and now the invasion of our smartphones, as updates pop up with the best possible deals on our selected apps.
From behind the terraces, the betting scene is having an imposing influence, and more recently it has advanced into Premier League clubs through its financial predominance. Dating back to the 2002-2003 season, we saw The Cottagers (Fulham) become the first club to advertise Betfair.com on their home and away strips. Despite this case only lasting a year, the market was evidently changing from one previously in a field of consumer electronics and alcohol. It was the start of a host of lucrative global betting sponsorship deals in the Premier League.
Fifteen years after the first betting sponsorship we currently see 45% of Premier League clubs using bet kit sponsors – which you would assume to be at all time high. Newcomers Huddersfield and Newcastle, who were last season promoted from the Championship both agreed global betting sponsorship deals. These particular arrangements serve Premier League clubs growth to reach out to an international fan base. Newcastle United partnered up with Far Eastern online gaming firm FUN88 while Huddersfield signed up OPE sports to make it the highest value front shirt partner in their entire history.
Recent controversy has arisen within the Football Association, the governing body of English Football, over betting prompting a turn of events. In June, the FA terminated their four-year deal with the renowned betting company Ladbrokes, following apprehension over the influence of gambling on the game. A series of high-profile gambling disputes have seen high profile footballers such as Joey Barton charged for offences of placing 1,260 bets over a 10-year sustained period. The severe criticism comes under the spotlight for promoting gambling while implementing a blanket ban on footballers betting worldwide. A statement released confirming the FA would halt all sponsorships with betting companies starting from the end of the 2016-17 season.
The (2016-17) season marked a peak number with half of the Premier League sides tied down to betting companies at (10). This representation made history; the stats indicated more clubs were seeing the long-term benefits of signing up to the sponsorship deals. However, it is usually the mid table/lower tier teams who are involved in the betting sponsorships. Despite this, this season (2017-18) the sheer money generated throughout the nine betting deals has amounted to an excess of £47 million.
Premier League clubs, which are sponsored by betting companies, are listed below:
- Bournemouth – M88 – £3.5m
- Burnley – Dafabet – £2.5m
- Crystal Palace – ManBetX – £6.5m
- Everton – SportPesa – £9.6m
- Huddersfield – Ope Sports – £1.5m
- Newcastle United – Fun88 – £6m
- Stoke City – Bet365 – £3.2m
- Swansea – LeTou – £4.5m
- West Ham – Betway – £10m
As mentioned earlier, gambling has not always shadowed the Premier League. The (2017/18) season will be the first time that a beer company has opted not to sponsor a side in the division. Liverpool has one of the most indelible beer sponsors that come to mind, Carlsberg while their Merseyside rivals Everton had a long sponsorship deal with Chang. However, the everlasting contract has since expired, and now The Toffees will progress onto SportPesa, a global sports betting platform operating in East Africa- making it the biggest commercial deal in the club’s history.
More recent discussions have suggested that gambling should be banned on television to prevent influence on our younger generation. Already the Labour Party have declared their willingness to tackle the issue, stating they would interdict betting firms from sponsoring shirts. The scheme of this would be to halt a “hidden epidemic” of addiction and protect children from the dangers of early exposure to online gambling.
Countries such as Australia have already taken action, their Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that the government will ban advertising before 8:30 during live sporting events and for five minutes before/start of play. Whether Britain will take any action remains to be seen.