Newcastle United Extends FUN88 Deal

July 21, 2020

- Grant Whittington

The latest news on the pro-sports front is that English Premier League club Newcastle United have extended their sponsorship partnership with Asian online betting giant FUN88 for three more years.

The EPL club’s leading sponsorship partner since 2017, FUN88’s official company brand logo appears on players’ first team jerseys, as well as on their training wear. The Asian gambling brand is closely involved with the club’s fans also, offering in return for interaction everything from special fan experiences to free branded jerseys to free seasonal tickets. Established in 2008, FUN88 has been a supportive partner to the club and is and now remains Newcastle United’s main kit sponsor.

Interesting Time For Extension

Even though there appears to be nothing out of the ordinary about the extension at face-value – most people would think it a cause for a celebration – the extension of the deal does come at a particularly precarious time in terms of gambling sponsorships of pro-sports leagues in the UK.

The fact that gambling sponsorships have been undisputable lifelines to struggling clubs battling to make ends meet following an extended sports-hiatus appears to not feature very high up on the list of factors to be taken into consideration as the UK yet again considers banning all gambling sports sponsorships.

So crucial has the support offered by gambling sponsors been that the English Football League (EFL) and the UK Betting and Gaming Council have both expressed extreme worry over the possibility of clubs below Premier League-level potentially suddenly having to make do without the support of operators.

A recent submission made by the UK House of Lords has proposed that all gambling sponsorships be banned with immediate effect. This, along with at least 65 other recommendations, are according to the submitted proposal, intended to improve the overall gambling scene in the country.

The submission by the House completely ignores the plight of the English Football League. The EFL faces the harsh reality of losing out on £40 million in annual sponsorship income if the ban were to go ahead and be enforced.

The recommendations put to table by the House of Lords form part of proposals laid before parliament in view of a “modernised” UK Gambling Act.

Lesser Of Two Evils?

It’s of course also no secret that Newcastle has for an extended period of time been at the centre of much speculation regarding a possible buy-over deal involving Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. The reported and much-speculated-about deal will, if and/or when concluded, see the Arab crown prince own as much as 80% of the club.

The Saudi prince is no poster child for maturity and has on occasion been described as the epitome of a hissy-fit-throwing personality making friends and influencing people by venturing into full-on entitlement-style tantrums whenever anything fails to go his way.

Not only is he widely accepted as having been the person behind the covered-up botched murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he also got accused of having hacked Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ phone in an attempt to extract (and also broadcast – which he duly did) personal information pertaining to an extra-marital affair carried on by the richest man on earth.

The prince is regarded to be the product of a lifetime of over-indulgence, impunity, and an absolute shortage of discipline. Keen to present himself as some sort of a reformer, he’s only ever managed to cause international upsets, political strife, and reputational damage.

There’s no telling what an influence such as his could potentially do to a club such as Newcastle United. Which only makes the vilification of sports betting partnerships all that more preposterous, wickedly irresponsible, and downright insane.

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