50% Of Premier League Clubs Will Be Sponsored By Gambling Companies In The 2019-2020 Season
The battle between gambling companies and their coverage of sporting events continues, with news emerging that half of all Premier League clubs will be sponsored by a gambling company in the upcoming top-flight season. On top of that, more than 50% of clubs in the Championship will have gambling sponsors as 17 out of the 24 teams has signed up with the likes of bookmakers and casinos.
The news comes just a few days after Huddersfield Town, who were relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season, have been reprimanded by the Football Association for wearing a shirt emblazoned with Paddy Power’s logo across it like a sash.
That turned out to be a hoax and was actually designed to draw attention to the campaign to stop clubs from having sponsors on their shirts at all, called ‘Save Our Shirt’. They gained a huge amount of publicity from the stunt, of course, so it’s not as if Paddy Power’s reasoning behind the campaign is entirely without benefit to themselves.
Yet it’s possible that the bookie has a point given the latest news over the number of teams that will be boasting gambling related sponsors for the forthcoming campaign. The company’s Managing Director, Victor Corcoran, said, “As a sponsor, we know our place, and it’s not on your shirt”. It’s clear that the company’s rivals don’t agree.
Why People Think Gambling Sponsorship Is A Problem
The relationship between betting and football has always been in existence, whether it be in the form of the Football Pools or simply the desire of football supporters to place a bet on the team they love ahead of watching the match, the reality is that the two have been virtually inseparable for years.
Yet the major concern surrounding the sheer number of betting sponsors is that the subject is becoming normalised for young fans who see their heroes running around in shirts emblazoned with betting companies during matches throughout the season.
Even though clubs are not allowed to have gambling sponsors on replica tops sold to young people, that’s quietly irrelevant when they’ll be watching the players wearing those shirts week-in, week-out and will have pictures of them on their walls that have the sponsor’s logo on them.
It’s why campaigners are so concerned and so adamant that something must be done about the issue, Professor Jim Orford of Gambling Watch UK told PA Sport that the evidence shows gambling is becoming ‘more normalised, particularly among young people’, whilst GambleAware’s Marc Etches said that we’ve reached ‘a tipping point’.
Clubs That Have Gambling Related Sponsors
Obviously not all clubs have sponsorship deals in place with betting companies to be their main sponsors, but even then most of the ones that don’t do have some sort of deal in place with a gambling company to be their ‘official betting partner’ or some such thing.
The deals struck by the various clubs mean that they stand to earn £349.1 million between them this season, which is an increase from the £315.6 million that the clubs playing in the top-flight earned last time out.
Here’s a list of the clubs in the Premier League for the 2019-2020 season and the sponsors, starting with the ten that have partnered with gambling companies:
10 With Gambling Related Sponsors
- Aston Villa – W88
- Bournemouth – M88
- Burnley – LoveBet
- Crystal Palace – ManBetX
- Everton – SportPesa
- Newcastle – Fun88
- Norwich City – Dafabet
- Watford – sportsbet.io
- West Ham – Betway
- Wolverhampton Wanderers – ManBetX
10 With Non-Betting Related Sponsors:
- Arsenal – Emirates
- Brighton & Hove Albion – American Express
- Chelsea – Yokohama Tyres
- Leicester City – KingPower
- Liverpool – Standard Chartered
- Manchester City – Etihad Airways
- Manchester United – Chevrolet
- Sheffield United – USG
- Southampton – LD Sports
- Tottenham Hotspur – AIA
Gambling Tightens Its Grip On Football Despite Critisim
What will concern campaigners is that gambling companies appear to be tightening their grip on football as a sport at a time when the links between the two industries are being criticised more than ever before.
Labour’s Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, has long been an outspoken critic of the gambling industry and has previously vowed that the Labour Party would ban betting companies from being able to sponsor football shirts if Labour ever get elected.
He didn’t pull his punches when asked about the number of betting companies sponsoring shirts for the forthcoming season, pointing out that it was less than twelve months ago when the industry announced that they were committed to reducing the amount of advertising around football but now they’ve gone against that entirely.
Watson believes that ‘the time for warm words is over’ and that stricter regulation will be needed if the industry doesn’t start to ‘act in good faith’.
Recovering gambling addict James Grimes is leading a charity walk called the Big Step, which will travel from Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium to their rival’s ground Old Trafford, but it will be going via six clubs that have betting sponsors. The walk is being done to raise money for Gambling With Lives, which is a charity that Liz and Charles Ritchie set up in the wake of their son, Jack, taking his own life when he was 24 because of his gambling addiction.
It comes on the back of a study showing that problem gamblers are ‘much more likely’ to attempt suicide than those that don’t gamble.
Does The Betting Industry Think It’s Doing Enough?
Given the promises made by members of the gambling industry around advertising and football, it’s fair to ask whether or not the industry as a whole thinks it’s currently doing enough to help problem gamblers and to remove the ever-pervading link between betting and football.
After all, the industry is imposing a ban on betting adverts being shown between 5 minutes before kick-off and the final whistle of football matches from this coming season. Whilst other sports don’t have quite the same relationship with betting that football does, the link between the beautiful game and football sponsorship has become ‘disturbing’ according to anti-gambling campaigners.
If the industry as a whole feels that they’ve done enough by promising not to advertise during matches and offering more money in terms of treatment and help for problem gamblers, it’s not an opinion that is shared across the board.
Paddy Power’s stunt with Huddersfield Town was designed to suggest that an end to shirt sponsorship should come about sooner rather than later, whilst GVC, the company that owns Ladbrokes and Coral, have also said that they don’t think gambling companies should be sponsoring football clubs. It’s easy for them to say as much, given the sheer size of both companies, but most of the clubs sponsored by betting firms are sponsored by smaller ones that are trying to make a name for themselves in a competitive industry.
Betting Not Even The Biggest Sponsors
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the entire conversation surrounding betting companies and football clubs is that they’re not even the most lucrative sponsors of the top-flight sides.
Manchester United boast by far the most lucrative deal, having gained an $80 million per year deal with the US car manufacturers Chevrolet, whilst Manchester City earn £45 million per year from their sponsorship by Etihad. Even that is debatable, given the fact that the airline is owned by Abu Dhabi, which is where City’s owner Sheikh Mansour is from and the rumours surrounding the club’s financial dealings.
It is the sheer number of clubs sponsored by gambling companies that are the problem, then, rather than the money they’re earning. Whilst none of the top 6 teams are sponsored by companies that have any relationship with the betting industry, 10 of the other 14 sides do. Indeed, it’s generally the clubs lower down the football league table that have deals with betting firms, with the peak coming in the Championship.
Betting firms need clubs that can’t attract bigger sponsors yet are still in the limelight and on the TV enough to make it worth their while sponsoring them, which is why the Championship is ideal. It’s also worth noting that the Football League is sponsored by Sky Bet, adding more gambling adverting to matches.