Betting Football Gambling Letou Paul Fox Premier League Soccer Sports partnerships Swansea City

The rise of betting partnerships in the Premier League

By Paul Fox | October 5, 2017

Last month the Labour party announced that football clubs will be banned from signing shirt sponsorship deals with betting companies if the party comes to power.

I can see why Labour has concerns around this issue and agree that more needs to be done to help individuals with gambling addictions, but I am not sure that banning shirt sponsorships is the right move to make.

Instead, the industry and the government must come together to protect those that are vulnerable. By working with sports administrators and heads of betting companies, politicians can fully understand and address the challenges that exist and create a plan of action to help the people that need it.

There are already measures in place to ensure visibility of the sponsor is restricted; for example, we have no logo visible on the Swansea City children’s shirt, but perhaps more could be done.

The fact is that football and betting have always been linked, going hand-in-hand like horse racing and gambling, with punters previously going down the bookies before the internet changed the face of the industry.

The Premier League now accounts for the highest number of football bets across the world, but it is not the reason that betting companies become shirt sponsors.

At LeTou, we have long been established in the Asian and international markets, but prior to sponsoring the Swansea City shirt this season we were not so recognisable in the UK. Having a logo on a Premier League shirt gives organisations instant credibility with customers, safe in the knowledge that their money is with a reputable company.

A lot of the growth in betting companies sponsoring clubs has come from brands in Asia, with operators wanting to be compete with rival organisations. As a result of this, it can be challenging to stand out in a very crowded market of online bookmakers.

The first thing that I did after signing the contract with Swansea City was to remove the Chinese characters from our logo on the shirt to ensure that we were viewed as a global brand. Asian companies are often seen as being faceless, simply writing a cheque, putting their name on the front of a shirt and never to be seen again.

But I believe that building a relationship with the club is far more meaningful. This is why we immediately donated our entire corporate hospitality and season ticket allocation to two local charities. I’d like to see more betting companies follow our lead to help create a positive association with the industry.

It will be interesting to see whether betting partnerships will continue to grow as rapidly over the next few years as they have since the first deal was signed with a Premier League club in 2002.

Should Labour get into power then these agreements may disappear entirely, but until then there is unlikely to be a drastic change while prices remain more competitive for clubs outside of the top six.

That said, I do believe that the glass ceiling has now been reached for many Asian operators in terms of cost, so we could well see the return of more Western brands over the coming years.

READ MORE: The pros and cons of betting sponsorship in football

Betting Football Gambling Letou Paul Fox Premier League Soccer Sports partnerships Swansea City