Gambling Premier League Sponsorship

The House View – New Premier League gambling rules are a halfway house

April 20, 2023

It all started in West London, back in 2002, when Fulham’s deal with Pizza Hut came to an end and they put Betfair on the front of their shirt.

Fulham were the first of many Premier League teams to put the name of a betting brand on the front of their kit, but after last week’s landmark decision made by the clubs we will only see them until 2026/27. 

This season eight of the 20 clubs in the Premier League have a gambling brand as their front of shirt sponsor. The total combined value is estimated at £60 million. 

Front of shirt is only one of the assets Premier League teams have for their sponsors. For a start betting brands will still be allowed to appear on the shirt sleeves – we will see the value of these sponsorships soaring as a result of this. It is not just shirt sleeves where we will see values increase, clubs will be desperate to make up for the lost revenue where they can and LED, stadium and stand naming rights will all increase in value.

Looking back, the 2016/17 season was when gambling front of shirt deals peaked with 50% of the clubs having them.

Currently, gambling brands make up for 22% of front of shirt sponsorships across Europe’s top three leagues despite restrictions on sponsorships in Italy and Spain. They have even gone up 3% in the last year.

Italy and Spain tightened their rules on gambling sponsorship in both 2019 and 2021 respectively. Javier Tebas, President of LaLiga estimates that they have lost £80 million and the Italian Football Federation say they have lost closer to £90 million. In both of these countries the regulations were brought in without a great deal of lead time leaving clubs in a tricky position. 

Down in the EFL, they have not placed the same restrictions on front of shirt deals. Clubs are deemed to be too dependent on gambling brands for financial solvency. It will be interesting to see how sponsorship deals will be structured now because if clubs achieve promotion they will have to change sponsors. 

The vast majority of the gambling brands that are on club’s shirts are Asian bookmakers. For example, Labrokes has not had their brand on the front of a shirt since 2016/17 when they partnered with Notts County. 

Another sports loss is another sports gain, the ICC has decided to open up and will allow betting brands to appear on the front of international cricket shirts for the first time. Over the pond in the US, we are seeing a relaxation around all sorts of regulations around betting sponsorships – it will be interesting to see where this leads.

While the front of shirt is very visible, I would argue LED and stand/stadium naming rights have the potential to draw even more attention to a brand. LED is especially interesting with betting brands being able to advertise live odds to the viewers at home during the game. Surely this is more likely to encourage people to part with their money than any name on the front of a top.

Stoke City for instance are owned by the Bet365 Group, have Bet365 on the front of their shirts and play at the Bet365 stadium. If they get promoted they would have to find a new front of shirt partner, but be able to keep the naming rights and stadium branding. That doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

I don’t see the ban being an issue for clubs, their commercial directors will find ways to make up the revenue. My problem is with the stopping at front of shirt deals, they are at a halfway house, if they want to get gambling out of football they need to be stronger. If not then why bother doing this.

By Alex Brinton, Content Manager iSportConnect

Gambling Premier League Sponsorship