football

UK Football Fans Divided Over Gambling Sponsors

October 13, 2020

- Bradley Stott

Source: pixabay.com
Not all English football fans are keen on their clubs being sponsored by gambling and sports betting operators, an insightful new study has shown. In fact, as many as a third of football fans in the UK will purposefully avoid spending money on their favourite club’s kit whenever gambling sponsorships are involved or gambling-related branding can be seen appearing on items such as sports bags, t-shirts, towels, etc. 

There are currently 44 top-of-the-league football teams competing in English football championship events – and of these, 26 display gambling operator logos and emblems on their official team shirts. This wasn’t always the way things were. The last few years, in particular, have witnessed a massive spike in the signing of gambling sponsorship deals by some of the country’s most prominent football clubs.

Not only are sports book operators (bookmakers) doing their best to remain competitive in an industry marked by hounding rivalry, but teams too, have been struggling financially to make ends meet. This has obviously created the perfect landscape for sports sponsorships dominated by big-name gambling operators.

It’s In Their Faces

What seems to most irk football fans about gambling sponsorships, so reveals the study conducted by Survation, and in association with The Guardian, is the perception that gambling operators are tirelessly and non-stop trying to target not only popular sports clubs and teams, but also their actual fans.

What this means for sports betting sponsorships is that fans are becoming increasingly more negative towards their respective brands – and mainly as a result of a force-feeding of brand information. Even so, the value of gambling sponsorships cannot be denied or made light of. These types of partnerships have for years been heavily relied upon by clubs – whether for additional funding, or whether as a key source of financial driving power. What’s more, gambling sponsorships have allowed football clubs – and specifically “smaller” and less prominent clubs – to be broadcast and “seen” on small screens and big the entire world over. Most of the world’s biggest broadcasting deals would not be possible without sponsorship investments by big-money sports gambling stakeholders.

More Pros Than Just Money

There is however an opposite side to this particular story. According to the Betting & Gaming Council, gambling sponsorships and big money advertising such as the branding displayed on kits, shirts, etc., make it possible for fans to differentiate between legal sports betting operators and rogue offshore businesses. Unlicensed operators can oftentimes be seen displaying brazenly predatory behaviour – along with paying no taxes to local government and standing accountable to nobody.

At the same time, there does exist an interesting dynamic regarding the display of gambling branding on football club shirts. Supported by nearly 50 per cent of all survey participants, the so-called whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling ads screened during televised matches and events before the hour of 9 p.m. has effectively resulted in a massive 97 per cent decline in the airing of gambling-related commercials within that particular time slot.

EPL Welcomes Sponsorships

The English Premier League’s response to criticism from fans as well as from highly-placed government officials has however been one of an unavoidable reliance on the funding steered the league’s way as a direct result of sponsorship deals inked in partnership with regulated bookmakers.

The league has been staunchly defending its good right to become party to sponsorships offering monetary support – and especially so in increasingly more perilous times for sport in general.  The EPL, so lashed out league CEO Richard Masters during a recent televised rant, cannot afford to be picky about the colour of desperately needed money.

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